The Movement Pou Lagwiyann Dékolé (“Save Guiana”) began almost three weeks ago in so-called French Guiana, in South America. Schools, businesses, stores, the university, gas stations, the airport, as well as the port are closed. Road barricades strategically erected are considerably slowing the pace of life so that people may take the time to seriously reflect upon the situation in which Guiana finds itself as a result of French exploitation. Afrocentricity International considers that the demands of our sisters and brothers from Guiana for greater social, economic, cultural, and let us say it, racial justice, are totally legitimate. France, which has been illegally occupying Guiana since 1643, benefits from the country’s wealth and geostrategic assets, but gives next to nothing in return.
First used as a colony where enslaved Africans are introduced against their will and forced to work for free for hundreds of years, then as a place where undesirable and criminal French citizens are dumped with the construction of bagnes in Cayenne, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and l’Ile du Diable from 1852 until 1946, Guiana becomes, starting in 1964, due to its proximity to the Equator and the French debacle in Algeria, an important site for the French spatial industry with the Centre Spatial Guyanais located in Kourou.
Guiana became a French department in 1946 but did not benefit from its association, albeit forced, with France, much to the contrary. In fact, it is this very sentiment of having been neglected that ignited this movement Pou Lagwiyann Dékolé. The grievances of the Guyanese people are indeed many: insufficient schools (5000 children do not have access to elementary schools), dilapidated hospitals crippled with debts, a deficient justice system, almost no structures to provide technical training for school drop-outs (which leaves them with no social insertion option and explains in great part the very high unemployment rate among young people (40%) and the high incidence of criminality), inadequate roads, inaccessibility of electricity and drinking water for almost one third of the population, unavailability of telephone networks for thousands, an elevated infant mortality rate, etc., etc.
On the other hand, Guiana has become and remains deeply dependent upon France. As a result, local industries are not encouraged, when they are not simply discouraged. In addition, our Guyanese brothers and sisters are held hostages, with few airlines that often charge outrageous prices. And, of course, like all colonies, Guiana’s natural resources are confiscated by France, in particular its immense equatorial forest, which covers almost 98% of its territory and which remains one of the richest forest in the world because of its unique biodiversity.
In response to the demands for 2.5 billion euros placed by the Movement Pou Lagwiyann Dékolé in order to begin mending all those deficiencies, the French government is playing deaf and claims to be able to release only a little over 1 billion euros over 10 years. This offer is simply unacceptable, and the movement is bound to harden and intensify, until the French government gives in. Afrocentricity International affirms its solidarity with the Guyanese people, and will continue to monitor further developments closely. More than anything else, however, Afrocentricity International encourages the Guyanese people to question once for good the colonial link that ties them to France and which allows the latter, just like a shameless parasite, to continue sucking the Guyanese people’s blood while getting richer. The time may very well have come to move to the next stage, emancipation and decolonization.
Unity is our Aim, Victory is our Destiny!
Ama Mazama, Per-aat
Molefi Asante, International Organizer
Philadelphia, April 9, 2017