Solidarity with the General Strike in French Guiana!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 29.03.2017, www.thecommunists.net
The RCIT states its full solidarity to the struggle of the French Guyanese people. For about two weeks, various mass popular organizations have been protesting to demand security, access to drinking water or electricity, better health care, transport and an increase in wages, with improvements to the quality of public service.
The 37 unions united in the l’Union des Travailleurs Guyanais (UTG, the trade union federation of Guyanese workers) have joined the movement and unanimously voted to support a general strike. Currently the population and the various actors of the social movement are blocking all roads of the cities in the littoral (Cayenne, Kourou, Saint Laurent of the Maroni), and the commercial port, the Guiana Space Center, the Prefecture, etc. All schools of the coast are closed, all the shops in the town of Cayenne declined their curtain, air flights are cancelled, and the rocket that was planned to take off last Tuesday has been postponed.
French Guiana is a small Latin American country with 250,000 inhabitants. It is a colony of French imperialism and possesses strategic importance as it is home to the Guiana Space Centre, a space-travel base, which allows France as well as the European Union to regularly send military and civilian satellites into the outer space.
The public unrest is the result of the neglect of this French department by Paris for decades. On the one hand, the state invests billions of Euros to launch rockets every month, on the other hand, there is a lack of money for health, education, etc. The medical-chirurgical center of Kourou is even planned for sale to private investors. There is no money for public services, for peasants, carriers, etc. Guyana today has an unemployment rate of 22% of workers of which nearly the half are young people. The country’s poverty rate is estimated at more than 60%. Antoine Karam, Senator for Guyana, stated that “nearly 30 percent of the population does not have access to either drinkable water or to electricity, but on the other hand we have a space station.”
In contrast, France has an official unemployment rate of 9.7%. This reflects the economic, political and social subordination which French imperialism has imposed on its colony.
Unfortunately, a group called “500 Brothers” plays an influential role in the protests. Marching in the streets of Cayenne dressed in black and wearing ski masks, they shout right-wing slogans calling to fight against delinquency and advocates “the eradication of squatters”, i.e. against the increasing number of migrants coming from North Brazil and Venezuela. Their spokesman named Mickaël Mancée stated that ““A dead thief is a thief who does not steal anymore” and “if petty criminals want war, we will wage it.”
France’s “socialist” government of Hollande agreed to send an inter-ministerial mission composed of high-ranking administrators to try to find a compromise only after the people successfully blocked the entrance of the Kourou Spaceport and thus prevented the launching of rocket to space on 25 March.
However, any illusions would be mistaken. These representatives of the French government have nothing to offer the working class of Guyana. They only want to control the unrest of the people and guarantee the exploitation and the profits.
It is crucial that the working class does not rely on the leadership of the 500 Brothers and the trade union bureaucracy. Committees of action should be built in all workplaces and neighborhoods and their delegates should meet for a national congress of struggle to lead the general strike as well as any negotiations with the authorities. It is also necessary to create committees of self-defense against the state repression as well as potential attacks by the right-wing groups.
Socialists in mainland France should call for solidarity of the French unions and workers parties with their brothers and sisters in Guiana.
The RCIT unconditionally supports the right of national self-determination of the Guiana people and advocates an independent workers and peasant republic as part of a socialist federation of Latin America and the Caribbean.
To counter the influence of the reformist Socialist Party as well as the right-wing 500 Brothers and to outline a socialist perspective for the struggle, it is urgent to build a revolutionary workers party as part of a world revolutionary party. The RCIT calls on all authentic revolutionaries to unite on the basis of a revolutionary platform in order to create an international revolutionary organization as a first step towards the creation of such a world party.
International Secretariat of the RCIT
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