The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Guadeloupe:
Reactions against a journalist's anti-foreigner propaganda

Sep 10, 2001

On September 5 Ibo Simon, a famous TV talk show host on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, went on trial in the capital of Point-à-Pitre. The organization "Friends of Haiti" had sued him, and as a result he was summoned to appear before the court for having made racist and anti-foreigner remarks against Haitian immigrants. This suit was supported by a number of organizations and political groups of the left and far left (including our comrades, Combat Ouvrier, that is Workers Combat), nationalist groups and unions. An "Appeal against Barbarism" was signed by a large number of people and well-known personalities.

Ibo Simon’s racist, anti-foreigner and contemptuous remarks aren't new, but they have taken a much more systematic and violent direction in recent months, in particular since the local government election campaigns. Supporting himself on the feelings of frustration of many people and on their feelings of insecurity, linked to the increase in crime of every type, and putting the blame on immigrants, Ibo Simon obtained more than 20% of the votes in Point-à-Pitre, forcing the current mayor into a runoff election.

The fact of being black himself doesn't prevent Ibo Simon from regularly taking on "blacks" who he says are only good for nothing and lazy. But his racist hatred is aimed especially against the Haitian community, which makes up the most important immigrant population. He regularly calls Haitians vermin, riff-raff, even dogs, and Ibo Simon has several times launched appeals to form attack groups to kick Haitians out of certain neighborhoods.

But the Haitians aren't the only ones whom Ibo Simon uses as scapegoats and on whom he puts all the responsibility for the problems of the island: crime, unemployment, lack of hospital beds, etc. He also attacks people from the small island of Dominica which is located between the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the second largest community of immigrants in Guadeloupe. Ibo Simon and his supporters had called on people to ransack the house of a family from Dominica in the town of Morne-à-l'Eau last July 22. He accused the renter of not paying his rent and of having had an argument with the Guadeloupean landlord. Ibo Simon appealed to his supporters to carry out more of these punitive expeditions.

Although the government's Radio and TV Council has been dealing with the question for a long time, it doesn't seem to be in a hurry to make a decision to demand that Ibo Simon be kicked out of his job.

In any case, the workers of Guadeloupe have many reasons to not let such remarks and such actions occur without reacting. By trying to turn the attention of the poor against "foreigners,” Ibo Simon and those like him only protect the bosses, who alone are responsible for the unemployment, misery and exploitation which rages on the island.