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Martinique (France): Political Movements

Last modified: 2006-05-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: martinique | independentist | modemas | hammer (black) | machete (black) | star (yellow) | map (yellow) | map (green) | sainte-anne |
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Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais

[Flag of MIM]

Flag of Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais - Image by Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1998

The flag of the independentist movement Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais is horizontally divided black-white-red-white-black (1:1:4:1:1). On the red stripe near the hoist appears a yellow madyoumbe.

Pascal Vagnat, 13 March 1996

This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #196, with the following caption:

Martiniquan Independence Movement (MIM)
French Overseas Department, Caribbean

Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999

Mouvement des Démocrates et des Ecologistes pour une Martinique Indépendante (MODEMAS)

[Flag of MODEMAS]

Flag of Mouvement des Démocrates et des Ecologistes pour une Martinique Indépendante - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 September 2000

In Vexillacta [vxl], #9, September 2000, Lé Nyssen reports the flag of Mouvement des Démocrates et des Ecologistes pour une Martinique Indépendante.
The flag is very similar to the flag of Front National de Libération de la Martinique. However, the flag of MODEMAS has proportion 1:2, as shown by the photography on the cover of Vexillacta, whereas the flag of FNLM flag has proportion 2:3.

The flag of MODEMAS was seen by L. Nyssen in several places in the south of the island, on the territory of the municipality of Sainte-Anne, whose Mayor Garcia Malsa is the President of MODEMAS. The flag flies at the honour position on the balcony of the city hall of Saint-Anne, by Decision of the Municipal Council from 5 October 1995. According to the Decision, the flag should "symbolize the resistance of Martinique people to French and European colonial oppression and be a rallying symbol to promote the nation, and helps to the construction and conception of a[n independent] state of Martinique."
The flag, or at least its colours, have a long revendicative history. The three colours are said to have been used on scarfs and headbands durign the 1870 insurrection against the white (béké) landowners and the government which supported them (slavery was abolished in France only in 1848). The colours reappeared in 1965 and were used in a vertical pattern by OJAM (Organisation de la Jeunesse anti-coloniale de la Martinique / Organization of the anti-colonial Youth of Martinique). Five years later, an independentist groups created the current flag design, shortly followed by the Parti Progressiste martiniquais. After the decentralization and regionalization process (1982), the flag was more or less abandoned until the mid-1980s burst of nationalist-ecologist revendications.
The writer Guy Cabort Masson claims that the flag was designed by Alex Ferdinand and himself during the May 1968 troubles in Paris, was transfered secretly to Martinique in 1971 and adopted by the first independentist movement of the island, the Mouvement Indépendantiste Martiniquais. The first publication of the flag appeared in two reviews directed by Cabort, En avant and La Voix du Peuple. In 1974, the flag was used by all the movements which organized the strike of banana plantation workers.

There are, as usual, several explanations for the colours of the flag:

  • Green for the country, its trees and fields; black for the colour of skin; red for the revolt against injustice
  • Red and black for the struggle; green for revendication and appropriation of the country
  • Red to glorify the sacrifice of the rebel Amerindians and marroons (the black slaves who had escaped and refugeed in the mountains), to exhort the legitimate struggle for existence and liberation of the consciousness and the nation; green to glorify the faith in the fecund country, to honour the nourishing earth and sea, mould of the heritage and bearing hope for the future generations of the Martinique people; black to affirm the essentially black African origin, so much denigrated by the European ethnocentrism, and express the negritude* of the creoles (the culture of mostly black people born in the Americas), but without promoting ethnonationalism and to acknowledge the Amerindian, Asiatic and European heritages and legacy

*The word négritude (constructed on the French words nègre, negro, and solitude, loneliness) was coined in 1939 by Aimé Césaire, writer and politician from Martinique, in his poem Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a return to the motherland) to restore the dignity of those "who never invented anything and had became mute because of slavery and colonization". The concept was extended to Africa by Léopold Senghor, writer and former President of Senegal. The concept of negritude is not unanimously accepted by the black community, and several writers of English expression such as Richard Wright from USA and Derek Walcott from St. Lucia have rejected this "particularization" of the black people. Since MODEMAS has some origin in Aimé Césaire's Parti Progressiste Martiniquais, the use of negritude in the proposed explanation of the flag colours is not coincidental. The use of Marcus Garvey's colours is also not coincidental.

Ivan Sache, 29 September 2000

Vexillacta [vxl], #12, June 2001 relates the nullification of the municipal elections in Sainte-Anne. The tribunal administratif (the court dealing with internal disputes in the French civil service), upon request of the Government Commissioner, nullified the local elections of 11 and 18 March 2001 in Sainte-Anne. The election of Garcin Malsa as Mayor and General Councillor is therefore nullified. One of the reasons for the nullification was the hoisting on the city hall of the MODEMAS flag, therefore the flag of Malsa's political movement. The city hall is considered as a neutral building, and hoisting a political flag on it is prohibited. Moreover, hoisting the flag on an election day was considered by the tribunal as a means of pressure on the electors.

Ivan Sache, 3 July 2001

I was in Martinique in September 2001. I saw the flag of MODEMAS once in Fort-de-France, between Place de la Savane and the sea, as far as I could guess used by someone who was renting boats or something like that. I saw it too on stickers that were pasted mainly on electricity poles, with two creole sentences, Péyi - a sé ta nou (This land is ours), and Nasyon Matinik (Martinique nation). The sticker displays the MODEMAS flag, ratio indeed 1:2, with a bright red triangle a green upper part and black lower part. As far as the triangle is concerned, its point reaches the 3/7 of the length (4.8 cm out of 11.2) These dimensions looked to me rather faithful to the real flags I saw.
The other place where I saw the flag was Sainte-Anne. There the city hall is not the only place where the flag is flown : I saw it on every roundabout I saw on the municipal territory. On the city hall, as evidenced by the picture I took, the flag was flown upside down (voluntarly or not, I don't know).
The MODEMAS flag is not the only one flown on the city hall of Sainte-Anne. It is flown along with the flags of France, of Corsica, and of Palestine. I think this is the only city hall in France where these flags are tolerated near the French Tricolore.

Olivier Touzeau, 20 November 2001

The flags are not really hoisted but hang on the balcony columns. I don't think there is any provision regarding hoisting flags on a city hall except during an election (see above).
I won't be surprised to see the Corsican flag on several Corsican city halls. In Sainte-Anne, of course, the meaning of this flag hoisting is a solidarity among people considered as oppressed.

Ivan Sache, 27 November 2001

Front National de Libération de la Martinique

[Flag of FNLM]

Flag of Front National de Libération de la Martinique - Image by Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1998

The Front National de Libération de la Martinique was active in the 1960-70s. The colors of its flag were were borrowed from the Parti Progressiste de la Martinique, led by Aimé Césaire, that used them in a vertical arrangement from 1957 to 1962.
After 1975, the Revolutionary Workers' Party used the same flag, adding its emblem in the triangle.
The Front de Lutte Révolutionnaire de la Martinique used a different arrangement of the same colours.

Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1998

Parti des Travailleurs de la Martinique

[Flag of PTM]

Flag of Parti des Travailleurs de la Martinique - Image by Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1998

Conseil National des Comités Populaires

[Flag of CNCP]

Flag of Conseil National des Comités Populaires - Image by Jaume Ollé, 8 December 1998