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mercredi 1 janvier 2014

De Gaulle, Chirac, the bomb and Polynesia

Bliss and woes of the nuclear in the South Pacific

The French Polynesia isn’t a paradise for everyone. The decision of Paris to pursue its nuclear tests until 1996 had painful consequences.

Remember Moruroa and Fangataufa…
Towards the late 1950s, France has entered fully the era of decolonization. Tempers are getting frayed between Paris and Algeria. Visionary, Charles de Gaulle understood that the process was irreversible and he will accompany it. Only here’s: where go for testing the H-bomb? The Sahara, it’s over. The whole Black Africa is ablaze and there was no colony in Asia… the ultimate solution, it’s the French Polynesia.

How did Polynesia become military playing field?
At that time, all the 118 isles of Polynesia shelter just over 80 000 inhabitants. A population insignificant and ignored in the heart of the largest ocean, the Polynesians were still living like before: by the early twentieth century. It was the ideal place to install the supreme weapon, cherished by the General.

September 4, 1966: De Gaulle comes to reassure native Polynesians…
Build an airport, non-existent at the time, was only a matter of money without real importance in the boom of the “thirty glorious years”. It’s the same for the port, the military and technical needed installations. There still to choose the perfect place: the lot fell on Moruroa and Fangataufa in the East Tuamotu.

 In September 1966, during his visit to Polynesia, Charles de Gaulle attended an air firing shot at Moruroa. For mysterious reasons, YouTube refuses integrating these unique and uplifting images. So to see them, I can only invite you to click here: De Gaulle at Mororoa in September 1966

To take action it only remained to deport, purely and simply, a few dozen inhabitants of these both atolls. This was done without further ado and with any qualms.

Birth of a banana republic
To silence any hint of protest from the Polynesians, the French government made two very simple things. The first is to choose some “tavana” (respected leaders), give them a little power and a lot of money for them to load to silence the grumpy people and maintain calm. The second: inject huge sums to make Tahiti a “developed” place on the western model. This was done continuously until 27 January 1996, the last French nuclear tests on Moruroa Atoll.

The infirmary-hospital of Moruroa in 1974
At the time, Jacques Chirac is President of the Republic. In Polynesia, the strong-man is called Gaston Flosse. In the affairs of the state for many years, it has the distinction of being a close friend of French President who supports him and covers up for all his actions, whatever they are.

This very special relationship between the two men added to the silence that France wants to impose on all that is happened in French Polynesia and the megalomaniac ambition of Flosse, will lead the country to the situation it knows today. An ultra-minority elite which built huge fortunes by diverting off its object the “nuclear rent” with the blessing of Paris; a privileged and overprotected officials and treated as caste with indexed wages; and finally the others. 

Some of the French nuclear tests at Moruroa
The others are those who are unemployed, the real figure is impossible to establish because there is no unemployed benefit in Polynesia. The others are 50% of the population.  They depend on the RST (Plan Territorial Solidarity). The RST was created so that those who cannot pay social security contributions can benefit from coverage. To qualify for this scheme, you must prove net monthly income a less than the poverty threshold.

…and that infirmary-hospital of Fangataufa in 1975
In other words, half the population lives below the poverty line. It’s good here, to keep in mind that Polynesia is a French territory.

Corruption and manipulation
Flosse involved in a multitude of political and judicial affairs, lost power in 2004. But he recovered it in 2013… Since the Polynesia undergoes permanent manipulations of a political class just as corrupt as his former leader. Nine overthrows of majority in six years! All that is due to the about-face of elected persons, eager to get a ministry or other benefits of the same order and without never going through the ballot box.

Polynesian Presidential palace in Flosse’s manner …
In the current government, installed within the past three months, the President, the Vice President and more than half of the ministers are indicted in the political and financial affairs. The most of them implicate Flosse (already sentenced in some). But, despite that, he is yet still representative in the Assembly of French Polynesia and senator of the Republic. The second Polynesian senator, lawyer by profession, has been sanctioned by his order and banned from practicing for some time.  
… and the habitat of many Polynesians

Misery and despair
While the local political class plays, with billions of the State, to steal power each other every six months, the slums are growing, poverty is increasing and despair tends to become the most widespread feeling in Polynesia. Entire economy collapses, no jobs are created and the prices soar in all sectors.

Never forget…
The political replacement exists outside the corrupt seraglio. Will it have such financial means to be heard in the upcoming elections? Unfortunately nothing is less certain.

An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Monak

Copyright Julien Gué. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.

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