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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #305 - Ecology, Colonialism: Caribbean areas to defend (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 31 May 2020 08:41:41 +0300

The so-called overseas territories have only French bananas and sugar cane produced by the descendants of master slavers and the flow of tourists in search of an exoticism fashioned from scratch. Intensive monoculture, air and sea traffic, the driving forces of the colonial and capitalist economy, destroy land, bodies and ecosystems. To be saving, ecology must be decolonial and anti-capitalist. ---- The reality of the West Indies under French domination is comforting more and more of its inhabitants in the idea of making them areas to defend. The living, human or not, is exploited there, sacrificed by France, the Békés [1], the European Union, large private investors.
For the white man, the destruction of the Caribbean territories is customary. In 1900, 99% of the primary forest of Puerto Rico had disappeared, in favor of colonial plantations [2]. The same phenomenon is observed in Martinique.

The banana plantations extend there for kilometers, just like the sugar cane fields which, today, are ablaze due to an extreme drought. To these monolithic landscapes responsible for deforestation and the poisoning of populations are added the artificialisation of the soil and the erosion due to the establishment of hotel establishments on the coast.

Tourism in the sights
Although mashed, the thick plant cover of Martinique somehow remained until the 1950s. But, the tourist could not spread his towel on a beach covered with Ipomoea pes-caprae [3], a creeping creeper to stabilize the sand, our politicians saw fit to uproot them to plant coconut palms, and to replace the black sand of certain beaches with white sand, leading to sedimentary destabilization [4].

These decisions were able to satisfy a Western clientele able to "energize the space" [5]Martinique, to the detriment of its inhabitants, its fauna and flora.

The tourism sector carries a heavy responsibility. On an area of 1100km² live 376,480 Martiniquaises and Martiniquais who, in 2018, had to face a surge of 1,046,735 "visitors", cruise passengers or staying ten days, not among but next to us, thus maintaining the racial apartheid and the colonial economy in which we have been immersed for four centuries.

There are around 2.8 tourists for 1 Martinican, and the potential inclusion of Mount Pelee as a UNESCO World Heritage site risks doubling this ratio. In 2018, tourists offered € 57.3 million to car rental agencies, owned by Békés, whose number has doubled since 2011.

Traffic jams and deplorable air quality are part of everyday life, decision-makers refusing to set up efficient public transport services, preferring to protect the interests of car dealers and beké importers. New vehicle registrations increased by 20.4% in 2018. The pollution generated accumulates with that of maritime traffic.

It has been seven years since I had returned home, and the Eden of my childhood has turned into a playground, an aquatic park for tourists, mostly metropolitan. Corals are dying, fish are fading, while reddened bodies and diving masks appear by the hundreds.

Tripadvisor invites us to discover beaches and forests, but also the emblematic places of colonial history. It becomes an attraction and my homeland, a postcard, before being an environmental jewel to preserve the idleness of some, the venality of others. The locals inevitably end up refusing this tourist colonization.

In the West Indies, when politicians are concerned with preserving the coastline, it is above all in the interests of economic profitability and tourist interest. One can wonder about a preservation of the coastline of which tourism, at the origin of its destruction, is the only motivation.
Capitalist "protection" of the environment
Faced with criticism, the tourism sector has responded since the early 2000s, through concepts full of contradictions. So supposedly sustainable and ethical ecotourism often goes hand in hand with cultural tourism, both involving (too) large flows of visitors to natural sites, threatening the biotopes [6].

And when our policies are concerned with the preservation of the coastline, it is above all in a concern for economic profitability: the 55km² of coral reefs and the 20km² of mangroves (on part of which the Bernard Hayot Group has established a huge shopping center ) of our island must be preserved because they generate services whose annual value is estimated at 250 million euros [7]; mainly generated by leisure activities. One can wonder about a preservation of the coastline of which tourism, at the origin of its destruction, is the only motivation.

A maintained outbuilding
The Antilles however depend on maritime traffic, and therefore on the Hexagon, because we do not eat what we produce (99% of banana production is exported). The Békés, masters of mass distribution, sell basic necessities at usurious prices, partially justified by the granting of sea, a colonial tax on products arriving from the sea formalized in 1866.

We ruin ourselves for eating because we live on an island, while chemical inputs can be exempted from granting sea fees by local authorities, for large planters [8]. Our lands are polluted ad vitam aeternam by chlordecone, and more than 92% of Martiniquaises and Martiniquais, Guadeloupéennes and Guadeloupéens are contaminated. In 2018, imports of "fertilizer" increased by 13.2%, due to the banana industry, claiming however to convert to sustainable agriculture.

The mass tourism and colonial agriculture are "live" the Martinique though they devastate the. The Antilles under French domination must assume their autonomy. We must strive towards food independence to get rid of the yoke of France.

There will be no ecology in the West Indies as long as mass pleasure flights, cruises and intensive import-export continue ; that the West Indians will not be in charge of defending the environment, and therefore of the destruction of the capitalist system, of the corruption and cronyism that maintain it. Ecology must be decolonial and anti-capitalist, without which it will not exist.

Canoubis (anti-colonialist, environmentalist and feminist activist from Martinique)


[1] In the French West Indies, a Béké is a Creole inhabitant with white skin from Martinique and Guadeloupe, descendant of the first European settlers.

[2] Romain Cruse, A popular geography of the Caribbean, Inkwell memory, 2014.

[3] Named potato in Durand in Réunion, potato-seaside in the Antilles.

[4] Saffache, 1999.

[5] Laetitia Dupuis, "The erosion of the coves of the city of Schoelcher: determination of the dynamics and processes involved. Environments and global changes", research dissertation from the University of the Antilles, 2016.

[6] Biological environment hosting a set of life forms composing the biocenosis: flora, fauna, snow, and populations of micro-organisms.

[7] Coral Reef Conservation, program for Ifrecor.

[8] Opinion of the Competition Authority n ° 19-A-12 of July 4, 2019 concerning the functioning of competition in Overseas.

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