Pressure groups on the small Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe continue to strive for their goal of independence from France.
Pressure groups on the small Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe continue to strive for their goal of independence from France. The twin islands of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre - the most northerly of the windward Islands - have been a French Department since 1946.
SYNOPSIS: With warm temperatures throughout the year, it's rain forest-clad volcanic peaks and its coral-reef waters, Guadeloupe has great tourist potential which the authorities are trying to develop. Pointe-a-Pitre, the main town, has a picturesque colonial charm and attracts the ships and aircraft of several nationalities.
But behind the attractive Caribbean facade is evidence of unrest. For the past decade, several groups have been demanding autonomy from France. They continuing social and economic oppression back to the 17th Centaury when France, after settling Guadeloupe, imported slaves to work on colonial plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1848 and 93,000 slaves were freed. Many labourers and traders then came from India, Syria and else where to work on the island's crops of sugar cane, bananas, cocoa, coffee and others.
The separatist movement became firmly established in 1967 after an alleged incident of a wealthy European setting his dog on a poor black worker which led to three days of riots. A few weeks later, during a demonstration, several people were killed and wounded. During trials of accused Guadeloupian separatists in 1968, the existence of a national group, known by the initials G.O.N.G., was revealed. today there are several such groups and here the leader of four of them meet to compare notes.
It is poverty such as this, in Pointe-a-Pitre's shanty towns, that fuels the separatist movement. Most of Guadeloupe's population of 300,000 is black and the protestors accuse France of continuing to exploit them. The islands' economy depends on the export of agricultural produce to France. Ironically, while people here seek freedom from France, the tiny associated island of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy are themselves seeking separation from Guadeloupe and status as a French department.