Next Sunday, France is holding a referendum in Mayotte, one of the Comoro Islands that it still controls. The question is whether Mayotte wants to remain a French 'territory' or become a French 'department' with the same rules and regulations as metropolitan France. At the moment, there are 4 overseas departments -- Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana and Réunion. They use the euro, normal French stamps, and are an integral part of the European Union in spite of their distance from Europe.
Not a word about this referendum has been mentioned in metropolitan France.
There is no doubt that Mayotte will vote to become a department, because it means more money and more advantages for the 220,000 residents. France pours 400 million euros a year into Mayotte while the entire budget of the Republic of the Comoros is 60 million euros. (The Republic of the Comoros is comprised of the other 3 islands.)
France is a big supporter of the United Nations and is always criticizing countries that ignore UN resolutions. Unfortunately, it has been ignoring UN resolution 3385 since November 12, 1975, which decreed that France's continued occupation of Mayotte is illegal, as it breaks the territorial unity of the Comoro Islands group.
Actually, I can only see problems for France, since there is massive illegal immigration from the Comoros. Then there is the discrepancy of an almost completely Muslim French department where headscarves are permitted in state schools -- that could cause controversy.
Rather than wanting independence, the people of Mayotte want to become more French, which is why they will almost certainly vote for department status. The nearby island of Anjouan tried to declare independence from the Comoros a few years ago, but only as a fallback scheme when it was clear that France would not accept to annex it.
The extreme poverty of the Comoros and all of the money being poured into Mayotte by France creates extreme envy, and nothing good can come of it.
Why don't we who live in France have a vote as to whether we want Mayotte as a department? I admit I wouldn't be allowed a vote (as I'm not a French citizen) but I pay my taxes which go to subsidise these DOMs.
That is what a lot of people said. Our current president had even said once that nothing that affected France and the European Union would ever be decided without a referendum. It is even questionable whether the unilateral aggrandizing of the European Union is legal at all.
Why does France want to annex Mayotte? Strategic reasons? Or old colonial pride?
I've been following events in Martinique and Guadeloupe, of course - there are people from those départements in Québec, and the strikes are of great interest to the much larger immigrant group from Haiti (we have scooped a sizeable proportion of their educated workforce), but had never heard of Mayotte. Have you ever been there?
It happens tomorrow: on March 31, 2011 Mayotte becomes the 101th French département. In preparation, there have been quite a few modifications to local laws -- the abolition of Islamic courts, the requirement for both men and women to be age 18 for marriage and the abolition of polygamy.
There are still zillions of other things to do, most of them having a deadline of 2014. People did not have last names, so last names were assigned (and explained) to them, and just about nobody has any proof of ownership of land -- so a full survey of property must be done with mostly sworn declarations along the lines of "my father's father's father built the house and farmed the land from the old stump to the big rock..." I'm sure there will be quite a few interesting conflicts. People who claim too big a piece of land might suddenly change their mind when the next phase begins -- property taxes! Addresses have to be created as well.
Even though the standard of living is already 1000% higher than the nearby Comoros, it is not expected to rise to the level of metropolitan France for at least 30 or 40 years. It has the highest illegal immigration rate in France also and deports more people (all from the Comoros) than all of the rest of France. The main goal for Comoran women is to have a baby in Mayotte before they get sent back, which is why the deportations are often done within 48 hours (compared to months in the rest of France).
There might be a bit about Mayotte in the news tomorrow on the "big day."
That was very interesting Kerouac. Having been to the Comores I get the gist of the complications France faces. By the way, Mayotte becomes the 101st French departement..........when I tried to say 101th th th....... I got all tongue tied ;D ;D ;D
From France 24: France formally added the Indian Ocean archipelago of Mayotte to its list of “départements” on Friday, but celebrations to mark the occasion were postponed after eight of the overseas territory's 19 councillors failed to turn up.
I bet they'll be there to get their paychecks though.
I saw a program on this in the US about six months ago. The program said the Sarkozy was trying to get as many of the illegal immigrates off the island before it becomes a department because of the European Union agreement France will be responsible to pay for all that French citizens get, like health care, and many other costly government benefits. Similar to the costs we in the US have for all the illegal immigrates from Mexico. I have a feeling this is going to be costly for France.
Oh, it will indeed be costly, but it is a question of pride. The fact that Mayotte has so desperately wanted to remain French flatters the government. It's true that they had probably not calculated that half of the illegal immigrants for the entire country would arrive in Mayotte.
It's not a secret this time, although most of the world is not paying attention.
The maritime domain of France was just enlarged by 151,000 km² with the application of a UN convention concerning the continental shelf in the Indian Ocean. It received a big chunk offshore of Réunion (58,121 km²) and a bigger chunk around some of its small islands (Saint Paul and Amsterdam) for a total of 93,202 m². The United Nations is currently studying a claim for an additional 150,000 km² at verious places around the world, which would make it the biggest ocean domain country in the world ahead of the United States (currently #1).
What makes this a bit different from other territorial claims around the world is that France promises to never exploit mineral or oil rights in any of these territories, unlike quite a few other countries with ocean claims.