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Martinique - Political Movements

Last modified: 2001-11-30 by dov gutterman
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Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais

[Flag of the MIM]
by Jaume Ollé

There is also a flag for the independentists: it is black-red-black with thin white stripes between the black and the red.
On the red near the hoist appears a yellow Madyoumbe. The independentist movement is called Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais.
Pascal Vagnat, 1 and 13 March1996

This flag is listed under number 196 at the chart "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" [asp] as :
"Martinique (Martiniquan Independence Movement [MIM]) - French Overseas Department, Caribbean."
Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999

Mouvement des Democrates et des Ecologistes pour une Martinique independante

by Ivan Sache, 29 September 2000

A flag very similar to Front National de Libération de la Martinique flag was seen by L. Nyssen during a recent trip in Martinique. The report he made in Vexillacta #9, September 2000, gives several details about the meaning and origin of this flag. Note that the flag seen in situ has proportion 1:2 (evident from the photography on the cover of the Vexillacta issue), whereas Front National de Libération de la Martinique flag has proportion 2:3.
The flag was seen in several places in the south of the island, on the territory of the municipality of Sainte-Anne. It flies at the honour position on the balcony of the city hall of Saint-Anne, by decision of the municipal council from 5 October 1995. According to the decision, the flag should "symbolize the resistance of Martinique people to French and European colonial oppression and be a rallying symbol to promote the nation and helps to the construction and conception of a state
[independent] of Martinique." The mayor of Sainte-Anne, Garcin Malsa, is president of the Modemas (Mouvement des Democrates et des Ecologistes pour une Martinique independante / Movement of Democrats and Ecologists for an independent Martinique). The flag, or at least its colours, have a long revendicative history. The three colours are said to have been used on scarfs and headbands durign the 1870 insurrection against the white (beke) landowners and the government which supported them (remember that slavery had been abolished only in 1848). The colours reappeared in 1965 and were used in a vertical pattern by Ojam (Organisation de la Jeunesse anti-coloniale de la Martinique / Organization of the anti-colonial Youth of Martinique). Five years later, an independentist groups created the current flag design, shortly followed by the Parti progressiste martiniquais . After the regionalization, the flag was more or less abandoned until the mid-80's burst of nationalist-ecologist revendications. The writer Guy Cabort Masson claims that the flag was designed by Alex Ferdinand and himself during the May 1968 troubles in Paris, was transfered secretly to Martinique in 1971 and adopted by the first independentist movement of the island, the MIM . The first publication of the flag appeared in two reviews directed by Cabort, "En avant" and "La Voix du Peuple". In 1974, the flag was used by all the movements which organized the strike of banana plantation workers.
There are as usual several explanations for the colours:
1. Green for the country, its trees and fields
   Black for the colour of skin
   Red for the revolt against injustice.
2. Red and black for the fight
   Green for revendication and appropriation of the country
3. Red to glorify the sacrifice of the rebel Amerindians and 'marroon niggers' [the slaves who had escaped and refugeed in the mountains], to exhort the legitimate struggle for existence and liberation of the consciousness and the nation
   Green to glorify the faith in the fecund country, to honour the nourishing earth and sea, mould of the heritage and bearing hope for the future generations of the Martinique people
   Black to affirm the essentially black African origin, so much denigrated by the European ethnocentrism, and express the 'negritude'* of the creoles, i.e. the culture of mostly nigger people born in the Americas, but without promoting ethnonationalism and to acknowledge the amerindian, asiatic and european heritages and legacy.

* I use intentionnally 'negritude' and 'nigger' although I am aware of the pejorative connotation associated with these terms in English. The term of 'negritude' (litt. 'niggerness', constructed on 'negre'/nigger' and 'solitude'/'loneliness') was coined in 1939 by Aime Cesaire, writer and politician from Martinique, in his poem 'Cahier d'un retour au pays natal' (Notebook of a return to the motherland) to restore the dignity of those "who never invented anything" and had became mute because of slavery and colonization. The concept was extended to Africa by Leopold Senghor, writer and former president of Senegal. The concept of 'negritude' is not unanimously accepted by the black community, and several writers of English expression such as Richard Wright from USA and Derek Walcott from St. Lucia have rejected this 'particularization' of the black people. Since Modemas has some origin in Aime Cesaire's Parti Progressiste Martiniquais, the use of 'negritude' in the proposed explanation of the flag colours is not coincidental. The use of Marcus Garvey's flag colours is also not coincidental.
Ivan Sache, 29 September 2000

Vexillacta #12, June 2001, relates the nullification of the municipal elections in Sainte-Anne (Martinique, French Oversea Department). The 'tribunal administratif' (tribunal dealing with internal disputes in the French civil service), upon request of the Government Commissioner, nullified the local elections of 11 and 18 March 2001 in Sainte-Anne. The election of Garcin Malsa as mayor and general councillor is therefore nullified. One of the reasons for the nullification was the hoisting of the
red-green-black flag on the city hall. This is the MODEMAS flag, therefore the flag of Malsa's political movement. The city hall is cnsidered as a neutral building, and hoisting a political flag on it is prohibited. Moreover, hoisting the flag on an election day was considered by the tribunal as a means of pressure on the electors.
Ivan Sache, 3 July 2001

I was lucky enough to have a honeymoon in september in Martinique. I saw th independantist flag of MODEMAS once in Fort-de-France, between the "Place de la Savane" and the sea, as far as I could guess by someone who was renting boats or something like that. I saw it too on stickers which were pasted mainly on electrical poles. You can see on it two creole sentences : "Pe'yi -a se' ta nou" : This land is ours, and "Nasyon Matinik" : "Martinique nation". It displays an independantist flag , ratio indeed 1:2, with a bright red triangle a green upper part and black lower part. As far as the triangle is concerned, its point reaches the 3/7 of the length (4,8 cm out of 11,2) These dimensions looked to me rather faithful to the real flags I saw.
The other place where I saw it, and more than one time, was Sainte-Anne, the commune who is famous because it had decided to put this flag on its city hall.
I can say too that :
1) the city hall is not the only place where it is flown : I saw it on every roundabout I saw on the territory of the commune. But on the city hall, as I realize now, looking more precisely at the picture I took, it is flown upside down (voluntarly or not : I don't know).
2) the independantist flag is not the only one flown on the city hall of Sainte-Anne : you can see too : the flags of France, of Corsica, and of Palestine... I think this is the only city hall in France where these flags are tolerated near the French tricolore.
Olivier Touzeau, 20 November 2001

These are Creole forms of "Ce pays est ŕ nous" and "Nation Martinique". Note that the two flags are not really hosted but hang on the balcony columns. I don't think there is any provision regarding hoisting flags on a city hall except during an election. MODEMAS flag caused a lot of trouble only when it was hoisted during the last election in Martinique.
I won't be surprised to see the Corsican flag on several Corsican city halls. In Sainte-Anne, of course, the meaning of this flag hoisting is a solidarity among supposedly oppressed people.
Ivan Sache, 27 November 2001

Front National de Libération de la Martinique

[Flag of the FNLM]
by Pierre Gay

The Front National de Libération de la Martinique (National Front for Liberation of Martinique) that was active in the years 60s and 70s. The colors were taken from the Parti Progressiste de la Martinique (Progressive Party of Martinique) of Aimé Césaire (used in vertical 1957-1962)
After 1975 the colors in the same arrangement as above were used by the Revolutionary Workers' Party, but with emblem in the triangle.
Same colors are also used by the Front de Lutte Révolutionnaire de Martinique (Front for Revolutionary Fight of Martinique) but with a different disposition.
Jaume Ollé, 08 December 1998

Parti des Travailleurs de Martinique

[Flag of the PTM]
by Jaume Ollé

Conseil National des Comités Populaires

[Flag of the CNCP]
by Jaume Ollé

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