Dominican Caribs in 'Pirates' row
A Dominican Carib chief is calling on the island's Carib community to boycott the upcoming sequel of movie blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean because of how Caribs are portrayed in the film.
Carib chief Charles Williams said Disney has portrayed the Caribs as savage cannibals, a myth the community has long sought to dispel.
Shooting on the sequel is expected to begin in April, with hundreds of Dominicans applying to be extras in the movie.
According to the chief, the movie's bosses approached him saying they wanted to discuss a particular scene that they deemed to be sensitive.
He said during the discussions, Disney told him there would be a strong element of cannibalism in the film, but that they would refrain from showing blood and flesh-eating.
One scene mentioned involved a beach chase where savages were in pursuit of someone they wanted to be their leader. After capturing the man he is taken to a cave where he and other prisoners are told that they will be eaten.
Mr. Williams said that despite being told by Disney that he would be allowed to see the script, they later refused saying that is against their policy.
When asked why he objects so strongly to the suggestion of cannibalistic practices, Mr Williams said "people call us savage cannibals and say you used to eat people; and it is a stigma that we have been living from all those years, that is still active and alive and strong."
Mr Williams pointed to Island Carib Cannibalism, a document by Robert Mayers, and said it strongly states that there is no evidence to prove history's claims that the Caribs were cannibals.
The Carib chief claims this belief stems from the Europeans who colonised the Caribbean.
He said this belief is still widely accepted today, and that if the Carib community supports the Disney movie, this will only serve to subject yet another generation to that stigma once again.
Mr Williams said while it may not be possible to completely eliminate the belief that the Caribs were cannibals, the struggle to dispel that myth is one that must be kept active.
"We are people like all other persons…and that we have the democratic right to live and human rights like everyone else under the God's sun."
Asked if there were any positives in the film for the Caribs, Mr Williams said there were none. He said the film perpetuates stigma and discrimination and he cannot support this.
But in an island that is struggling economically, the film will bring some much needed foreign exhchange so calls for the boycott may fall on deaf ears.
Chief Williams said: "Money is not all in life, according to the saying, a good name is much better than riches."
About 3,000 Caribs live on the island of Dominica, which has a population of 70,000.
Many Caribs were killed by disease and war during colonisation up to the 1600s.