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Martinique, French Guiana: “No” To More Autonomy

The referendum which took place on Sunday, January 10th 2010, in the French Overseas Regions of Martinique and French Guiana to vote for either more autonomy from France or to keep the same status, was along awaited and its results have left bloggers with mixed feelings. The following is a roundup of some Martinican blogs and their insight on what took place.

Blogger Imaniyé publishes precisely the question which appears on the ballot paper:

…les Martiniquais et les Guyanais devaient répondre par oui ou par non à cette petite question : «Approuvez-vous la transformation de la Martinique en une collectivité d’outre-mer régie par l’article 74 de la Constitution, dotée d’une organisation particulière tenant compte de ses intérêts propres au sein de la République?»

…Martinicans and Guianans were to answer yes or no to this little question: ‘Do you approve of the transformation of Martinique [from the author: French Guiana] into an overseas semi-autonomous region, under the Constitution 74th Article, endowed with a specific organization respecting its own interests within the French Republic?’

After hearing the final NO to more autonomy both from 80% of Martinican and 70% of French Guianese voters, many people's first thoughts went to the island's Father-figure, the late Aimé Césaire and the way he could have reacted, had he lived to see this referendum that he so longed for. Imaniyé starts her post [Fr]with this introduction:

Hier, les Martiniquais se sont prononcés pour le maintien du statut quo du pays et non pour un choix où les élus locaux auraient plus de pouvoirs. J'en connais un qui doit se retourner dans sa tombe.

Last night, Martinicans decided to keep the status quo on the island and not to give any extra powers to the local representatives. I know someone who must be turning in his grave.

Going even further on this line, on MontrayKreyol [Fr], Thierry Caille imagines his meeting with Aimé Césaire and makes him comment posthumously on the results of the polls:

À l'énoncé des résultats du référendum du 10 janvier 2010, je me suis entretenu avec Aimé Césaire, que j'ai trouvé, désabusé, triste, sans colère apparente qui a tenu à s'exprimer devant les martiniquais, tous. Je vous livre ses propos, tels qu'il me les a fournis ….

After the results of the January 10th referendum, I spoke with Aimé Césaire, whom I found disillusioned, sad, without any visible anger. He wanted to address the Martinicans, all of them. Here am I delivering his words as he told them to me…

Controversial Martinican author, Raphaël Confiant, who blogs at MontrayKréyol, denounces [Fr] his fellow Martinicans’ voting NO, in a very critical way, after the month long all-out-strike that touched Martinique last year.

In French Guiana, some representatives who supported the 74th Article (for more autonomy) clearly expressed their disappointment; even anger. Martinican Bondamanjak and French Guianese OuebTV.fr report on Christiane Taubira‘s comments after the results were in [Fr]:

…le non massif des Guyanais et des Martiniquais à une autonomie accrue était ‘un cri de détresse’ jugeant que le ‘jeu de la peur a très bien fonctionné’ dans une population craignant de perdre ses revenus sociaux.

…the major NO to get more autonomy from the French Guianese and the Martinicans was ‘a cry of despair’ as she judged that ‘playing with people's fears worked out well’ in a population who was afraid to lose their social welfare.

At the opposite end, the blog Martinique73ou74, created for this special occasion (as well as to host the debate around the referendum) publishes the statement released by the mayor of Fort-de-France, Serge Letchimy after the results [Fr]:

Cette campagne nous a divisé, mais elle ne nous a pas séparé. C'est la victoire d'une lucidité, d'une sagesse, du peuple Martiniquais.

This campaign has left us divided but not apart. It represents the victory of the lucidity and the wisdom of the people of Martinique.

Look at the comment section for JLDL's post which reports a statement from Jean-Louis de LUCY who was featured as a Béké, in the controversial documentary “The Last Masters of Martinique“. He says [Fr]:

La population martiniquaise s’est massivement et clairement exprimée et dans sa grande sagesse a déjoué le piège tendu par les indépendantistes.

The Martinican population has massively and clearly expressed their decision and has wisely avoided the trap of the Independents.

Both supporters of the 73rd and 74th articles now say that the situation is still very tense – even after the vote – since the worst problem remains unsolved: unemployment on the island.

For more information about the debate, please visit the videos of Martiniklité on Dailymotion [Fr and Fr Cr].

The thumbnail image accompanying this post is courtesy Flickr user Dean Terry, used under a Creative Commons License. Please visit his photo gallery.

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