Dominica’s Minister of Tourism Defends Disney, Feb. 18, 2005

ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) — The tourism minister on Tuesday defended plans for an upcoming Disney movie expected to portray Dominica’s Carib Indians as cannibals, calling the film a work of fiction that could bring economic benefits to the poor island. The government has said Disney is planning to use the island as a shooting location for the sequel to the 2003 blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Production could begin in April. On Sunday, Carib Indian chief Charles Williams said he was informed by Disney producers that parts of the script portray the group’s ancestors as cannibals — a characterization Caribs have long denied. Williams is calling on Disney to remove references to cannibalism, which he says would malign the group. Tourism Minister Charles Savarin called the criticism unwarranted. “Nobody is saying that (the film) is an accurate historical report of what happened in Dominica,” Savarin said in a statement broadcast by private Kairi FM radio. “We have to get beyond our history and not continue trying to live in the past.” Savarin said Dominica, one of the poorest island’s in the Caribbean, stands to benefit greatly from exposure in the movie, but warned that criticism could prompt Disney to film elsewhere. He urged critics “not adopt a position which will have a negative impact on the welfare of the society.” Walt Disney declined to say if the film would refer to Caribs as cannibals.