The Spark

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

Guadeloupe:
Two Militants Unjustly Convicted!

Apr 29, 2013

Guadeloupe is an island of 400,000 people in the Caribbean and an overseas French department. A report from there appeared in the April 26th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group active in France.

On April 17th, a court issued its verdict concerning two militants of Combat Ouvrier (Workers’ Fight) and leaders of the high school paper Rebelle (Rebel): Raphaël Cécé got a five-month suspended sentence and Sony Laguerre an eight-month one. The judges ordered them to post $10,000 bail and pay various amounts to concerned parties, that is, the police. Thirty young people in the court room greeted the verdict with protest shouts. Then they held a protest meeting in front of the court with high school and college students from Rebelle, militants of Combat Ouvrier, the General Confederation of Labor of Guadeloupe, the teachers union and the students’ parents.

The police brought charges against Sony Laguerre and Raphaël Cécé after Rebelle’s peaceful rally last May 18th of youth in front of the Pointe-à-Pitre-Abymes police station. Forty high school and college students came to support one of their comrades summoned to the police station. The police charged three times without warning and rushed at the youth seated with their banner on the station’s steps. In their haste, the police got in each other’s way. Two of them were hurt and fell. That was the reason Sony Laguerre was charged. Raphaël was charged with a death threat against the cops for saying: “If two rebels remain on the ground, there will also be two cops on the ground,” a statement he never made.

The true reason for this harassment against the Rebelle youth is that for several years now, school authorities, principals, and the local government have been doing everything possible to silence this little high school paper that mocks authority. It denounces the administration’s abuse against students, the poor condition of the schools, cafeteria food and many other problems. Further, it denounces capitalist society. Rebelle youth are regularly summoned to the principal’s office, even to the police station to remind them of the law. But the harassment they suffer only increases the sympathy of high school and college students for them. At each hearing, about forty youth have marched together to the court, the Rebelle banner raised high, and shouted protest slogans. They received many expressions of sympathy from the population, including some of their parents.

On April 19th, Rebelle together with Combat Ouvrier held a press conference in Pointe-à-Pitre to denounce the disgusting verdict. The two young men have appealed, and invited their comrades and the organizations supporting them to prepare stronger demonstrations in the months ahead.