State of the Union – Annexation: French Guiana

Go Lean Commentary

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There is the Big Dogthe Alpha – and then there are the other dogs. While this is just nature, it also applies to the societal developments. In the Caribbean region, for example, there is the Big Dog of the United States of America dominating the region? Who is next? The British and …

The French.

This does not refer to just these French Caribbean islands, but rather the whole Republic of France, in which these Caribbean member-states are considered Overseas Departments (administrative sub-sets of the national government); see census numbers here:

Member –State Land Area (Mile2) Population GDP Millions GDP Per Capita
Guadeloupe 1,628 405,000 $6,169 $21,780
Martinique 1,128 402,000 $9,610 $24.118
Saint Barthélemy 21 8,938 $255 $37,000
Saint Martin 53 35,925 $599 $20,600
French Guiana 32,253 250,109 $4,900 $20,000
Republic of France 248,573 66,991,000 $2,833,000 $43,652

There is one French territory in this region that is NOT included in the roadmap for Caribbean confederation, as described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This refers to French Guiana, the territory on the mainland of South America, adjacent to Suriname; see photo above.

While the US is Number 1 in the world for Single Market economies, the French is shortly behind; (UK #9; France #10; The Netherlands #28). In the Caribbean, the French structure calls for the administrative designation of an overseas departments that have identical powers to those of the regions of metropolitan France. (This is different than overseas collectivities which is the particular status of Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin). As integral parts of the French Republic, an overseas department is represented in the National AssemblySenate and Economic and Social Council, elect a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and use the Euro as their currency.

So nowadays, Guiana is fully integrated in the French central state; they are even a part of the European Union, and its official currency is the Euro. The region is the most prosperous territory in all of South America with the highest GDP per capita.[2] A large part of Guiana’s economy derives from the presence of the Guiana Space Centre, now the European Space Agency‘s primary launch site near the equator. As elsewhere in France, the official language is French, but each ethnic community has its own language, of which Guianan Creole is the most widely spoken.

French Guiana and the European Space Agency were prominently featured in the Go Lean book – Page 105; see Appendix below – as a model for Self-Governing Entities (SGE). The hope – as expressed in the book – was that this territory would someday join the regional neighborhood.

French Guiana is complete administratively, but still features a lot of societal defects – not colonial de jure; but colonial de facto. It is the opinion of this Go Lean commentary, that this homeland needs … its neighbors: regional integration, which is the best strategy for anti-colonialism. See this VIDEO and news article here, highlighting the blatant discord there in that territory:

VIDEO – French Guiana Marches Against Colonialism –

General Strike and National Protest on March 28, 2017


Opinion Article – How Racism Hampers Health Care in French Guiana
By: Estelle Carde

Limited access to health care is exacerbated by everyday discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin.
Oft-overlooked French Guiana, one of France’s five overseas departments, has suddenly captured international media attention. And the news from this small South American territory is not good.

Crime, overcrowding in schools and hospitals, unemployment, the cost of living and slums have reached alarming levels.

Citizen discontent led to a massive demonstration this March, the most intense such strike since 2009. Demonstrators are asking for a $US2.7 billion emergency aid package from the French government to assist in the territory’s social and economical crisis.

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Health care is a particular concern in the former penal colony of 276,000 people. Hospitals are under-staffed and technical facilities are lacking. In some areas, the nearest hospital is a two-day canoe trip away.

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The recent deaths of five premature babies from infection at Cayenne hospital, in the capital, have heightened concerns.

But there’s one critical health care-related issue that almost no one is talking about: racism. In a diverse territory comprised of people of European, African, Asian and Indigenous descent and a growing immigrant population, limited access to health care is exacerbated by everyday discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin.

Too many foreigners?
Foreign-born residents of French Guiana are among those impacted by discrimination in the health-care system.

Though socioeconomically the territory lags severely behind the rest of France, French Guiana constitutes a regional haven of wealth whose attractiveness has grown since the 1960s. Today, more than one in three inhabitants is born abroad. People from Suriname, Brazil and Haiti represent the largest immigrant groups.

This “tidal wave” of immigration is often cited as the main cause of French Guiana’s current socioeconomic crisis, even in some French political circles. The discriminatory behaviours that sometimes result from such widespread immigrant-blaming may be only thinly veiled.

State health office assistants might apply stricter conditions than legally necessary to those seeking medical benefits. Some, for instance might ask the foreign-born applicants to give proof of longer residency than required by law, thinking that it will discourage them from settling in the territory.

The same arguments are, in fact, used to justify similar discriminatory practices against immigrants in mainland France, too. But in Guiana they are more openly displayed.

Ethnic categorizations
Immigrants are not the only group that experiences discrimination in accessing health care in French Guiana. Members of minority populations, whether they are French or not, can also be affected.

This is partly because in French Guiana, people commonly use ethnicity to identify themselves and others. Creole, Maroon, Amerindian, Hmong, Chinese or French Métropolitains (mainlanders) are frequently invoked categories.

Under French law, the government cannot collect data or use it based on ethnicity. But in Guiana such usage goes back to the territory’s early times as a slave colony.

And, of course, each grouping comes with its stock of stereotypes: “Maroons are child-like”, for instance, or “Hmongs are disciplined” and “Amerindians drink their dole money”.

But these assumptions are not set in stone. Because they serve to justify power relations between groups, they tend to change with the ethnic identity of the speaker. This social dynamic plays out in French Guiana’s health-care system.

In Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, French Guiana’s second largest city, Maroons – the descendants of escaped former slaves – are the majority population and therefore the largest group of health-care users. Health-care professionals, on the other hand, are primarily Creoles or French mainlanders.

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These professionals often point to the Maroon people’s history to explain certain patient behaviours. In the 18th and 19th centuries, slaves who escaped from plantations would hide in the forest, creating communities that remained more or less isolated from coastal Guianese society for almost 200 years.

In 1969, the large territory they still occupy – mainly tropical forests in the country’s interior – was finally integrated into the Department of Guiana. At that point, they began to gain access to French citizenship and public services such as education and health.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals readily highlight these facts to explain Maroons’ difficulties in accessing treatment, inferring that they are not yet used to doing things “the Western way.”

‘Them’ and ‘us’
Such references to historical facts are charged with connotations. Some Creole professionals suggest that Maroon people are undeserving of care because they only had to “leave their forest” to access to such services. Contrasting that status with their own position as “Guianese taxpayers” who fund these services, some may use this as justification to refuse Maroon people help in accessing treatment.

This attitude can be better understood considering the Creole people’s own history in French Guiana. Their process of accessing civil rights was slow and gradual. Social empowerment came only at the tail end of a gradual Westernisation process that began with slavery in the 17th century.

After emancipation and the granting of French citizenship in 1848, this population slowly rose to local economic and political power, spurred along by Guiana’s transformation into a French department (1946) and a national policy of decentralisation (1982).

Now hard-won Creole dominance is threatened by Maroon people, who recently obtained the same civil rights as them, and whose numbers have surpassed their own numbers in the Western part of Guiana.

Health professionals from the French mainland, for their part, tend to emphasise the “cultural differences” of these “new citizens”. They cite, for example, the “traditional” way in which Maroons transmit information (watching without asking questions) and their way of “living in the moment” to explain their apparent inability to request health coverage prior to needing treatment.

This tendency to highlight cultural differences can also end up amounting to discrimination because it overshadows systemic failures that do impact access to health care, such as the lack of health coverage offices in the country’s rural inland regions. This tendency is more present among professionals who have been in Guiana for just a few months and who readily admit to being allured by the very different culture of this “exotic” overseas corner of France.

Discriminatory behaviours among health professionals therefore exacerbate the failures of the ailing health-care system now under protest by Guianese demonstrators. Foreigners and Maroon people are the first victims of administrative failures due to their vulnerable socioeconomic status. They are also worst hit by geographical obstacles because they represent a majority of inhabitants in the territory’s remote rural areas.

But this accumulation of racist, economic and geographical inequalities is no accident. It is the result of centuries of history of Guianese society.

Source: TeleSur Media Network – Published April 13, 2017; retrieved July 26, 2017 from:


Translated from the French by Alice Heathwood for Fast for Word.

Estelle Carde is a professor of Sociology of Health at Université de Montréal.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Guiana Workers ‘Toughen Up’ Mobilizations Against French State 

This theme – “All is not well in the Caribbean” – aligns with the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean, where the assertion is that the problems facing the Caribbean region are too big for any one member-state alone. There needs to be a regional solution. The book posits that shifting the help-seeking responsibility to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy will result in greater production and greater accountability. This deputized agency is the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the CU.

This commentary is a follow-up to the 5-part series on the subject of the State of the Caribbean Union. Our Caribbean region is unique in that there are 4 different languages and 5 colonial legacies, spread across 30 member-states and 42 million people. The goal is to execute the 5-year plan of the roadmap and then add a 31st member: French Guiana. Based on the dispositions in the foregoing VIDEO and news-opinion article, French Guiana can use the Go Lean empowerments NOW! That land is suffering from many of the same dysfunctions that plague the rest of the Caribbean and the neighboring states of Suriname and Guyana. There might be the need to act NOW to seek refuge and relief.

The other 5 entries in the series are as follows:

Just the phraseology “Caribbean Union” assumes a collective collaboration of all the territories that identify with Caribbean culture; there is the need for better local stewardship. This Go Lean effort is a confederation of sovereign and non-sovereign territories, as is the case for French Guiana. There is no need for independence, as the authority of these territories can still be deputized into the CU as an umbrella intergovernmental organization. In total, the Go Lean/CU roadmap will employ strategies, tactics and implementations to impact its prime directives; identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a “Separation-of-Powers between CU federal agencies and Caribbean member-state governments”; so the limitations of national laws in a member-state does not have to override the CU. A CU constitution would apply to the installation – and continuation – of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and Self-Governing Entities (SGE) that operate in controlled bordered territories like campuses, industrial parks, research labs and industrial plants.

The Go Lean/CU roadmap always anticipated the French Caribbean territories. This theme was detailed in previous Go Lean blog-commentaries; consider this sample: Managing Volcanoes in the French Caribbean – Martinique and Guadeloupe Welcoming the French in Formal Integration Efforts Caribbean Integration Plan for Greater Prosperity French Caribbean ready for the Martinique Surf Pro Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Maarten Join the Association of Caribbean States

Now the status of the French Caribbean is indistinguishable from colonial status. All authority still rest in Paris. But there is an opportunity for more (and better) autonomous governance in the region. As depicted in these previous commentaries, this opportunity is extended for the French Caribbean to align with the rest of the Caribbean region to adopt strategies, tactics and implementations to assuage the societal dysfunctions … together.

This quest of optimizing the entire Caribbean economic-security-governance eco-system is more than just a dream; this was the motivation for the origins of the Go Lean movement. This vision is defined early in the book (Pages 12 & 13) in the following pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence:

ix. Whereas the realities of healthcare and an aging population cannot be ignored and cannot be afforded without some advanced mitigation, the Federation must arrange for health plans to consolidate premiums of both healthy and sickly people across the wider base of the entire Caribbean population. The mitigation should extend further to disease management, wellness, mental health, obesity and smoking cessation programs. …

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xxii. Whereas the heritage of our lands share the distinction of cultural tutelage from European and American imperialists that forged their tongues upon our consciousness, it is imperative to form a society that is neutral and tolerant of the mother tongue influences of our people to foster efficient and effective communications among our citizens.

xxiii. Whereas many countries in our region are dependent Overseas Territory of imperial powers, the systems of governance can be instituted on a regional and local basis, rather than requiring oversight or accountability from distant masters far removed from their subjects of administration. The Federation must facilitate success in autonomous rule by sharing tools, systems and teamwork within the geographical region.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

The Go Lean book posits that the inefficient Caribbean communities – French Guiana included – can be reformed and transformed if they adopt the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies as depicted in the Go Lean roadmap. The book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society. For one, the strategy calls for the implementation of Self-Governing Entities like the European Space Agencies and many more industrial sites – i.e. 10 Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities on Page 105 of the book.

The effort of the Go Lean roadmap is not “stuck” on Caribbean geography; rather we are committed to Caribbean culture. As such we confederate with territories not only in the Caribbean Sea but also those in the Atlantic Ocean (Bahamas, Bermuda and the Turks & Caicos Islands), on the Central American mainland (Belize) and the South American mainland (Guyana, Suriname and now French Guiana). All of this constitutes the Caribbean homeland.

Together, Caribbean stakeholders can succeed in efforts to improve; to end the parasite status with European capitals (and Washington) and instead exert our autonomy as mature democracies. We can be protégés instead of parasites.

Yes, we can … reform and transform our homeland to make it a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix – The Bottom Line on the French Guiana Space Center

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organization of 20 member states, dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000 with an annual budget of about US$5.51 billion (2013). ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly with the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Center (CSG) at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. The main European launch vehicle, Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs and further developing this launch vehicle.

The CSG has been operational since 1968; it is particularly suitable as a location for a spaceport as it fulfills the two major geographical requirements:

• it is quite close to the equator, so that the spinning earth can impart some extra velocity to the rockets for free when launched eastward, and

• it has uninhabited territory (in this case, open sea) to the east, so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures cannot fall on human habitations.

CSG is the spaceport used by the ESA to send supplies to the International Space Station using the Automated Transfer Vehicle. Commercial launches are bought also by non-European companies. ESA pays two thirds of the spaceport’s annual budget and has also financed the upgrades made during the development of the Ariane launchers.

Source: Go Lean … Caribbean book (Page 105).

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