• Short Summary

    Continuing his tour through central and south America, VISNEWS cameraman visited Cayenne and the former penal settlement on Devil's Island, French Guiana, recently.

  • Description

    Continuing his tour through central and south America, VISNEWS cameraman visited Cayenne and the former penal settlement on Devil's Island, French Guiana, recently.

    French Guiana is situated on the north-west coast of South America between Dutch Guiana and Brazil. Wild and primitive, it is unspoiled by modern trends. Rich is hardwood forests and unexploited mineral deposits, it is the least explored of the three Guianas.

    Cayenne is the capital, and the colony's chief port. Its population of 13,348 is comprised of French administrative employees, indigenous natives, and Chinese. The town forms an almost perfect square, and has clean and well macadamized streets. Architecturally, the only building of any consequence is the residence of the Prefect. An unusual and amusing sight are the many water buffalo who roam freely through the streets.

    The harbour at the mouth of the Cayenne River is shallow at its entrance, and craft drawing more than 14-feet are obliged to anchor six miles from the town. Principal exports of Cayenne are gold, cocoa, phosphates, hides, woods, and spices.

    From Cayenne Riff took a boat across to the infamous Devil's Island, a rocky, palm-covered islet 27 miles to the north-west. Actually covering three islands, the now idyllic-looking Devil's Island was a penal settlement until 1945. On King's Island, the biggest of the three, were the depots, administration buildings, and some prisoners. St. Josef's Island was for common criminals, and the smaller Devil's Island was reserved for the more important prisoners. Dreyfus was imprisoned here for ten years.

    Prisoners lived freely on Devil's Island. They did no work, and lived in huts they built themselves from palm branches. The island is so small that it is possible to walk from one side to the other in five minutes. With no room to bury them, the dead prisoners were tossed into the sea to the shoals of sharks. There were no guards, but in the long and sinister history of the island only two prisoners have ever succeeded in escaping.

    Riff said the Island was the most wonderful place he had ever seen, and prophesied that one day it will become a delightful holiday resort.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA63HZ8DP6GGGPGSPZEXAALJAKC
    Media URN:
    VLVA63HZ8DP6GGGPGSPZEXAALJAKC
    Group:
    Reuters - Incuding Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    07/04/1961
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:03:27:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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