His Excellency Charles Angelo Savarin
President of the Commonwealth of Dominica
Charles Angelo Savarin (born 2 October 1943) is a former member of Parliament and current President of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Savarin served as a Senator in the parliament during the Interim Government (1979-1980); during the first term of the Dame Eugenia Charles, Dominica Freedom Party administration (1980-1985); and during the Dominica Labour Party government (2005-2013).
Early life and education
Mr. Savarin was born in the town of Portsmouth in the Commonwealth of Dominica on 2 October 1943. He attended the St. John’s School in Portsmouth, the Dominica Grammar School in Roseau, and Ruskin College, Oxford, United Kingdom. He pursued professional training in Industrial Relations in London, Development Studies in Oxford, United Kingdom and International Relations in Berlin, Germany.
He has held several ministerial appointments during his more than twenty-four years long parliamentary career. These include Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with special responsibility for Trade, Industry and Tourism (1983- 1985); Minister for Tourism and Enterprise Development (2000-2005); Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade & Labour and Minister with responsibility for the Public Service (2005-2007); Minister for Public Utilities, Energy & Ports and Minister with responsibility for the Public Service (2007-2009); and Minister for National Security, Immigration, & Labour and Minister with responsibility for the Public Service (2010-2013). Savarin has also served Dominica at the diplomatic level, first as Minister Counsellor/Dominica High Commission to the United Kingdom (1985-1986).
Savarin served as a teacher at the Dominica Grammar School from 1963 to 1970.
Mr. Savarin has had a long and distinguished career as a Trade Unionist, Diplomat, Politician, and Cabinet Minister. It is widely accepted that Hon. Charles Savarin is one of the most skilled and coruscating debaters of his generation and quite possibly one of the most devastating platform speakers of his era.
Following the downfall of the Patrick John Government in 1979, Mr. Savarin was appointed Chairman of the Committee for National Salvation (CNS), the body which oversaw the transition to an interim government comprising all sections of the political divide in Dominica at that time.
Savarin contested the 1980 General Elections on a Dominica Freedom Party ticket losing to Mike Douglas in a four way race. Savarin polled 405 votes to Douglas's 531 votes. In 1983, Mr Savarin was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office with special responsibility for Trade, Industry and Tourism. In 1986, he was posted to Brussels and appointed by the Freedom Party Government of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles as Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the European Union. He also served as principal ambassadorial spokesman for African/Caribbean/Pacific States on bananas. That assignment ended in 1993, when he returned to Dominica to become General Manager of the National Development Corporation (NDC).
Mr. Savarin was elected Political Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party on April 20th 1996 following the resignation of Brian Alleyne who had succeeded Dame Eugenia Charles as Political Leader following the 1995 General Election.
Following the General Elections of 31 January 2000, the veteran politician, who at the time was the Political leader of the Dominica Freedom Party formed a Coalition Government with the Dominica Labour Party, with Hon. Roosevelt Douglas as Prime Minister. He was appointed Minister for Tourism. After Douglas died some eight months later, Pierre Charles was appointed Prime Minister. He added the responsibilities of Enterprise Development and The Public Service to Savarin's portfolio.
At the height of the fiscal crisis between 2001-2003, Mr Savarin, along with his other cabinet colleagues, played an important role in seeking to mobilise public support and acceptance of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) through a series of country-wide Town Hall Meetings. Savarin was one of the most vocal defenders of the Pierre Charles government, often acting for Charles when the later was overseas. He was also Chairman of the cabinet sub-committee on the economy. This placed him in the forefront of discussions and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and other donor agencies. Savarin was also one of the main speakers at town hall style meetings of the government to inform the public on the serious difficulties facing the economy.
Following the death of Pierre Charles on January 6, 2004, Savarin remained as Tourism Minister following the appointment of Roosevelt Skerrit as Prime Minister. The Freedom Party continued to decline and won no seats in the May 2005 General Elections. Savarin was however rewarded for his loyalty to the coalition and was named Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Labour. In a 2008 Cabinet reshuffle Savarin was made Minister of Public Utilities, Ports and The Public Service.
Savarin joined the Dominica Labour Party in 2005 and was instrumental in the public campaign for the 2009 General Elections. He co-hosted a popular night time show alongside Attorney Anthony Astaphan and DLP stalwart Eddie Lambert. Savarin known for his platform oratory skills was also a key figure on the DLP political platform.
Prior to his appointment as Minister for National Security, Immigration, Labour and the Public Service in 2010, Savarin, served as counsellor and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and also as the Ambassador/ Permanent Representative to the European Union, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Swiss Federation.
In 1986, he was appointed Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the European Union, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Swiss Federation. He was also the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva and principal ambassadorial spokesman for African-Caribbean and Pacific States ACP, on bananas. As principal ACP negotiator he was instrumental in the successful negotiation of the new Banana Import Regime, EU Regulation 404 of 1993, which secured special preferential access conditions for ACP bananas entering the European Single Market.
Upon his return to Dominica Savarin served as General Manager of the National Development Corporation from 1993 until his resignation in 1995 when he was elected Parliamentary Representative for the Roseau Central Constituency. He was re-elected in 2000 serving till 2005. He was also Political Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (1996-2006).
As part of the Trade Union movement, Savarin served as General Secretary of the Civil Service Association (CSA) for nearly two decades and almost single-handedly organised public service employees into the most powerful trade union in Dominica. During the public service protest action over a 5% salary cut in 2003, Savarin was at the forefront in defending government's action. This aggravated the PSU Leadership with General Secretary Thomas Letang threatening to revoke Savarin's lifetime membership to the Union.
Savarin who had gained nationwide recognition for two CSA-Ied strikes; the 1973 public service strike over the transfer of radio personality Daniel "Papa Dee" Cauderion, and the September–October, 1977 CSA general strike which had virtually crippled the island.' Savarin had grown in stature and was the most notable trade union leader on the island. The CSA's orientation was middle class, not working class. Though its membership came from the formerly disenfranchised Dominican working class which had gained socio-economic ascendancy through earlier Labour Party reform, most of the CSA leadership was now sympathetic to the Freedom Party. Indeed, the CSA and other local trade union now followed the pro business and neo-colonial philosophy of the US AFL-CIO which had pursued a fiercely anti-Leftwing policy in Latin America.
The Sisserou Award of Honour, Dominica’s second highest award, was conferred on Charles Savarin for his contribution to politics at the Parade of Uniformed Groups on National Day, 3 November 2006.
On 30 September 2013, Savarin was elected President of Dominica. Savarin replaced President Eluid Williams, who was elected last year to complete the term of office of then President Nicholas Liverpool, who resigned because of ill-health. Savarin was sown in on 1 October 2013.
Honours and awards
The Dominica Award of Honour was bestowed on Savarin on 30 September 2013. Created in 1967, it is the highest honor presented by the state under the Meritorious Service Honours Act, Chapter Ninety Nine of the Commonwealth of Dominica. This award is conferred on persons who have made significant contributions to the country.
Savarin is married to Clara Savarin nee Etienne. He is the father of five children.