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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Taubira en faveur d’une "politique foncière" pour les descendants d’esclaves

by (No author listed in the on-line version)

Taubira in favour of a "land ownership policy" for the descendants of slaves.

Translated Saturday 18 May 2013, by L.O.S

Minister for Justice, Christiane Taubira "has never wanted to get involved" in the debate surrounding a "financial compensation" for slavery, a position reiterated by the Council for the representation of black associations (Cran) on Friday, but instead advocates a "land ownership policy" for the descendants of slaves overseas.

Referring to the racism and discriminations that are "the traces of that violence", the minister for Justice affirmed, in an interview with Journal du Dimanche, that "we are all accountable for the injustices that persist and repeat themselves, because they are rooted in this period of slavery and colonization". "I know there are calls for financial compensation, but this is a debate in which I have never wanted to get involved", she adds, explaining that she holds "in this regard a position that has been constant for some fifteen years." "There is public action to be taken in the struggle against racism, the deconstruction of racism, at its root. To make sure the countries of Europe that today bear this history understand that they are essentially heterogeneous and that the diversity of their population is the legacy of this very history. Today, racism and discrimination are the traces of that violence. We must struggle resolutely against it, in the same way the slaves, the "maroons" [1], and the humanists struggled against the system of slavery" she says.

Coinciding with the day of commemoration for the abolition of slavery, the Cran announced on Friday that it would issue a writ against the Caisse des Dépôts, accusing the group of having profited from the slave trade.

However, the keeper of the seals also recalls the "confiscation of lands" in the overseas territories that "means that, generally speaking, the descendants of slaves have very little access to land ownership". "Without causing civil war, land ownership policies and land consolidation would thus have to be envisaged. A few things have to be put into place without expropriation, while explaining very clearly the meaning of a public action that would consist in purchasing lands", says Christiane Taubira. "In Guiana the state took land ownership, so there, the situation is easier. In the Antilles, it is mostly the descendants of the masters that kept the lands, so there," she admits, "putting things into place remains more delicate."

[1people, most notably in Jamaica, who escaped their slave masters and founded free settlements.

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