May 14, 2012
The following is translated from the May 11th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of comrades in France. It comes from a report from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean which is a French overseas department. The word béké in the article is a Creole word referring to the descendants of the former white European slave owners, but has come to mean any exploiter, whatever their race.
On May 3rd, Ghislaine Joachim-Arnaud, the secretary general of the General Confederation of Labor of Martinique (CGTM) and a member of the leadership of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the West Indian Trotskyist organization, won her appeal in court against her conviction for “inciting racial hatred.” She had been put on trial as the result of a complaint made by Jean-François Hayot of the Respect DOM (Overseas Department).
The original court found her guilty – because she had signed the guest book of the TV station ATV with one of the slogans of the 2009 strike that tens of thousands of demonstrators chanted in Creole: “Martinique is ours, it’s not theirs, a band of békés, thieves, profiteers, we’ll kick them out. We’ve got to continue this fight.”
The béké and other bosses’ lobby wished to take vengeance for the 2009 general strike and to prevent her from expressing herself freely. The 2009 strike had cost them a great deal.
This is above all a victory for all the workers mobilized around Ghislaine Joachim-Arnaud , for her comrades at work, her comrades in the CGTM – the principal organizers of the committee to support her. It was also a victory for the militants of some political and union organizations in Martinique which had supported her, including those of her own organization, Combat Ouvrier.
Finally, the defense lawyers, by their legal and militant defense against injustice, made an important contribution toward the acquittal.