“No to impunity”.
Several thousand people demonstrated this Saturday in Martinique against the threat of prescription in the file of chlordecone, an insecticide accused of having poisoned the island and neighboring Guadeloupe where the mobilization started more timidly.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people took to the streets according to the organizers, 5,000 according to the police, some wearing anti-Covid masks, others not.
"The Martinicans have mobilized by the thousands," said Francis Carole, president of the Party for the Liberation of Martinique (Palima), to respond "to the spitting that launched the French state, namely the threat of prescription" in the record of this insecticide which infiltrated the soils of the island for hundreds of years.
“We had never seen such an important event since 2009,” he added.
- RCI Martinique (@RCI_MQ) February 27, 2021
"Tell the prefect to go and plant bananas"
Drums, maracas and songs… The seriousness of the subject did not prevent the gathering from taking place in a festive atmosphere.
"Prescription dapré yo, di prefet alé planted bannan" ("according to them there will be prescription, tell the prefect to go and plant bananas"), the demonstrators sang in particular, taking up the tune of a song from carnival, illegal this year due to Covid-19.
Mobilization # chlordecone in Martinique.
Of the world !
- Zaka (@ZakaToto) February 27, 2021
The insecticide was authorized between 1972 and 1993 in the banana plantations of the West Indies, polluting water and agricultural production, while its toxicity and its persistent power in the environment had been known since the 1960s.
"They poison us, they kill us," proclaims a banner of the CGT Martinique held by two women dressed in red, while others had opted for red, green or black, colors of the flag adopted by a majority of Martiniquais.
: more than nine in ten West Indians contaminated with chlordecone
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More than 90% of the adult population in Guadeloupe and Martinique is contaminated by chlordecone, according to Public Health France, and the West Indian populations have one of the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in the world.
Several associations from Martinique and Guadeloupe were heard on January 20 and 21 by the Parisian examining magistrates in charge of the case.
As early as 2006, they had filed a complaint against the poisoning of their islands with chlordecone.
But during this hearing, the investigating judges in charge of the case since 2008 explained to the plaintiffs that there could be statute of limitations and that the case could lead to a dismissal.
An option that shocked public opinion and led to this great mobilization this Saturday.
A more timid demonstration in Guadeloupe
If the mobilization, in the current health context, is a great success in Martinique, it is more timid in Guadeloupe where 300 people, according to the local CGT, the organizing union, participated in a simultaneous demonstration in Capesterre-Belle-Eau.
In Paris, the site of the third simultaneous demonstration, just over 200 people gathered at Place de la République.
"The whole of French society should take up the cause so that there is no prescription," said Toni Mango, head of Kolèktif Doubout Pou Gwadloup, for whom the threat of prescription will serve as a catalyst for the mobilization.