In Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, between 10,000 and 15,000 demonstrators erupted on Saturday morning, February 27, at the call of the “Lyannaj pou Dépolyé Matinik” (collective to clear Martinique of chlordecone and other pesticides).
The Lyannaj pou Dépolyé Matinik has been tenaciously coordinating the fight against pesticide pollution for three years and demands that the responsible (powerful Béké, white people descended from the first colonizers) farmers, importers, as well as the politicians who allowed them to break the rules be convicted.
Lyannaj managed to gather for this large meeting almost forty unions, ecological, feminist and cultural organizations, not to mention the spontaneous arrival of artists and even Christian pastoral workers who called of their own accord to participate in the meeting. Almost all left-wing political parties, despite some reluctance on the part of some of them, finally joined the initiative.
The initiative was also promoted by a very dynamic collective in Guadeloupe, which at the same time held a protest in the commune of Capesterre Belle-Eau, and by a collective in Paris which called a meeting of more than 800 anti-slavery people. It must also be counted that in Fort-de-France, all those people around the demonstration on the sidewalks were signaling that they identified with the demands being put forward. Clearly a very significant part of the population took the opportunity of the united call of about forty organizations to express their rejection of the impunity planned to be granted to the polluters.
Jijé yo! Konané yo!
” Justice on them! Condemnations on them! ” That was the massive cry of that day. The people, both young and old, showed enthusiasm to face the contempt of the rulers and their state. The people seemed to be saying that they did not want February 27 to be a mere ceremonial scare, but the first step in a new phase of mobilization. Both the state and its prosecutors and judges must understand that the fifteen years of judicial silence will not pass any longer. Patience is over.
The people are doing justice to those who for decades led the struggle under difficult conditions. The people salute those who worked to gather and accompany the agricultural workers in their struggle in defense of their rights. The people unite to demand justice, respect and reparation, because there are too many people responsible for this situation for there to be no culprits: they are the Békés banana capitalists, the state that supports them, and a number of elected parliamentarians who are complicit. They are the ones who imported from the United States a product known for its toxicity. They are the ones who bought the patent to produce it, they are the ones who sold it. They are the ones who produced it in France and Brazil, they are the ones who produced it, they are the ones who marketed it and used it.
They are the ones who forced the workers to spread the product with contempt for their health and their lives. They are the ones who asked for the marketing authorization and they are the ones who gave it. They are the ones who asked for an exemption when the ban was imposed in France and the ones who gave it, the ones who stored and used it despite the end of the exemption. They are the ones who gave it to their workers to be used in their own gardens. These are the ones who demanded that small planters spread chlordecone to benefit from subsidies.
All these delinquents, all these criminals must be tried and convicted. The polluters must pay.
There must be reparations! The profits accrued must be used to repair the damage for which they are responsible. No prescription for our prostate cancer, endometriosis, and all the other diseases caused by chlordecone.
No to prescription for poisoning crimes. No to the attempt to justify legal pesciation. No to police mistreatment of our comrades in struggle, no to repression against activists who are prosecuted when no one bothers the poisoners. For reparation for the crimes committed and for the conviction of those responsible to be accompanied by fundamental transformations in agriculture, in the economy, in health, in society. No to the Chlordecone IV plan, which perpetuates the inanity of the three previous plans. That the state that has acknowledged its responsibility makes amends for its crimes.
For a healthy and nutritious agriculture in place.
For a fishery that meets our needs.
For health care based, first and foremost, on prevention and care, utilizing the full potential of our country.
Chlordecone was used starting in the 1970s to combat pests on banana trees. Although its use has been banned in the US since 1976, its use was allowed in Martinique until 1993, and continued clandestinely after that date. Its use by banana growers for more than 20 years has caused severe contamination of the soils, rivers, and continental shelves of Martinique and Guadeloupe.