French president Francois Hollande began his Caribbean tour, where he will make historic visit to Haiti
Posted by AFP on Saturday, May 9, 2015 Under: Diplomacy
Francois Hollande on Friday began his tour of the Caribbean in St. Barthelemy and St. Martin, two small islands of the French Antilles where he is to participate Saturday and Sunday in Martinique and Guadeloupe in two major international meetings on climate change and memory of slavery.
"Thank you? Be here (...) Thank you for waiting so long," he told Mr. Holland, arrived at 17:00 local (2300 in Paris), warmly welcomed by hundreds of locals and tourists just outside the small airfield of Gustavia.
The last visit of a president at St. Bartholomew dates back to that of Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1980.
Mr. Holland was notably accompanied by the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, the Minister of Ecology and Ségolène Royal of the Minister of Overseas George Pau-Langevin.
In the wake of this Caribbean sequence, the President will depart for a historic visit to Cuba and Haiti on 11 and 12 of May.
In Saint-Barthélemy and Saint Martin, became in 2007 the local authorities overseas (COM), emancipated from Guadeloupe, the head of state is expected on local demands.
St. Barth's rich, who had only 17% voted for him in 2012, wants to reach an agreement with the state to clear a grotesque tax debt accumulated since the change of status and even offers to help with the expenses of State on its territory (police, teachers, etc.).
In St. Martin, binational Franco-Dutch island, the situation is different. The community faces serious financial problems due to difficulties in collecting the tax and especially a tense social situation with almost 10% of the 40,000 inhabitants touching the RSA. And there are many who work in the Dutch part without declaring French side.
- "Wave of complaints" by the descendants of slaves -
In Guadeloupe, where he will inaugurate on May 10 a large storage center on slavery, on the occasion of the day dedicated to him, he was beaten by several local initiatives handing on to center stage the issue of reparation, which Hollande is opposed to.
Mr Ezelin, Guadeloupe lawyer, told AFP that "two assignments were initiated in the courts of first instance of Basse-Terre and Pointe-à-Pitre" to "citizens all descendants of slaves" demanding compensation from the State for the "damage" resulting from the slave trade and slavery.
"There will be a wave of complaints," said another lawyer member of a group that defends the plaintiffs. The International Committee of black people (NHIC) will soon be added to this procedure, according to its president Jacqueline Jacqueray.
In addition, a local representative of the Representative Council of Black Associations in France (CRAN), Gilbert Edinval, said he filed a complaint against the state in early April for crimes against humanity, while Joëlle Ursula, the former singer Zouk Machine, has in turn mounted a collective with other West Indian artists to initiate a similar action.
The representatives of the Caribbean, and the presidents of Senegal (Sall), Mali (Ibrahim Boubacar Keita) and Benin (Thomas Yayi Boni), country of departure of the slave trade, will join François Hollande in Pointe-a-Pitre to inaugurate the Memorial Act, "the largest center in the world devoted to slavery," according to the Elysee, which also addresses resistors, lifestyles, the abolition and modern forms of slavery.
This building with modern architecture aims to "keep the memory and reconciliation with history," in the words of Victorin Lurel, PS president of the Guadeloupe region, bringing this project and who faces criticism on the cost (EUR 80 million) and the desirability of such a place, far from the daily concerns of the population.
Previously Mr. Holland will chair Saturday Martinique regional climate summit, ahead of COP 21 in December in Paris.
The "Caribbean Climate" will host about thirty delegations throughout the Caribbean, including Haitian President Michel Martelly, 13 prime ministers and six ministers, including probably a Cuban.
The island nations of the Caribbean contribute only 0.3% of greenhouse gas emissions but feel climate change with its corollary of rising water levels and strengthening extreme weather events.
As at a summit in the Indian Ocean in August 2014 or the Pacific in November 2014, will be discussed to promote a geographical solidarity of France, second world maritime power, with neighbors of the three oceans.
In : Diplomacy