Neocolonial policy of France on the edge of collapse- French Guiana is also on the path to liberating itself from colonization-ANALYSIS

Neocolonial policy of France on the edge of collapse- French Guiana is also on the path to liberating itself from colonization-ANALYSIS
# 03 May 2024 13:15 (UTC +04:00)

In the 21st century, France still does not intend to withdraw from its neocolonial policy. Official Paris today still maintains control over 13 territories in South and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, thousands of kilometers away from its European borders.

These territories, with different administrative and legal statuses, have been turned into victims of France's exploitative neocolonial policy for centuries.

The largest of these territories is considered French Guiana. Its area is 83,534 square kilometers, slightly smaller than Azerbaijan in terms of territorial size.

French Guiana is located in the northeast of the South American continent and has been under French administration since the 17th century. When we look at history, we can see the extent to which France's colonial policy has negatively affected the ethnic composition, population, and quality of life in the territories it occupied, with French Guiana being a prime example. It was the French colonists who systematically exterminated the local indigenous peoples and began to exploit indigenous labor by importing African slaves from Africa. The consequences of this relentless colonial policy are still felt today. Only 3% of the population are indigenous peoples, while 70% are descendants of Africans brought here as slaves. Despite efforts to change the ethnic composition through "whitening" attempts, the French population in the region accounts for 12% and continues to decline. On the other hand, France has also used French Guiana, with its harsh tropical climate, more as a place to exile criminals and political activists.

However, from the mid-19th century onwards, France developed a "strong affection" for French Guiana. This was due to the discovery of significant gold and bauxite deposits in the region. It was from this period that France began to regard French Guiana as one of its main colonies.

Therefore, unlike its neighbors Suriname (Dutch Guiana) and Guyana (British Guiana), French Guiana was not granted independence. In the 21st century, France still does not want to grant independence to the region, despite protests from the local population and the severity of the social situation, implementing racial and national discrimination policies in the region. Instead, since 1946, France has declared French Guiana as its overseas department, tightening its control over it even further. For example, France can declare a state of emergency and military rule in French Guiana without the consent of local authorities.

The scale of French exploitation is so significant that today, 80% of the production capacity in French Guiana, from agricultural lands to immovable property, belongs to French corporations. Compared to the mainland, unemployment in the region is three times higher, while social benefits and labor rights are twice as low. These factors have led to the marginalization of indigenous people in political and economic governance, along with the rise of the struggle for freedom in French Guiana, alongside the memory of historical colonization. These protests against neocolonial France already have initial results. Last month, local parliamentarians, mayors, and members of territorial councils granted legislative representation to six representatives of the indigenous people in the legislative body, giving them the right to make final decisions on infrastructure projects, including indigenous land areas. They adopted this decision inspired by a similar decision adopted in New Caledonia.

In light of popular protests, if official Paris confirms the region's autonomous status, 90% of the land owned by the French state would be given to indigenous peoples. Thus, France's largest colony, which it has exploited for 400 years, would now slip from its grasp.

In other words, just like in New Caledonia and other overseas territories, aspirations for independence have surfaced in French Guiana. This process is closely monitored by Azerbaijan, which is also fighting against neocolonialism. The regions victimized by France's colonial policies are aware of this and highly appreciate Azerbaijan's support for the process.

French Guiana, in its struggle for freedom, also values the support it receives from Azerbaijan. Cindy Adela Pollux, a member of the Political Bureau of the Social Liberation and Decolonization Movement of French Guiana, expressed gratitude for Azerbaijan's attention to France's neocolonial policy and its support during an event organized by the Baku Initiative Group on "Decolonization: Empowerment and Development of Women" held in Baku in November 2023.

Official Baku, in turn, intends to continue supporting French Guiana and other peoples who have long been under France's exploitation in determining their own destinies.

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