Residents of Majicavo in Mayotte await deportation. (Photo: Chafion Madi, AFP)
Mayotte is a French overseas territory island located in the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and Madagascar. It is also near the Comoros Islands, whose citizens travel to Mayotte as undocumented immigrants. The French government began operation Wuambushu, meaning take back, to force these migrants to return to their home country, but the Comoros Islands refuses to readmit them. Europe's colonial legacy has created yet another racist, humanitarian crisis.
Originally published in Initiative Communiste. Translation by Philippe Gendrault.
The Macron regime has undertaken in the island of Mayotte a nauseating communication operation with police violence and evictions, evictions from homes but also from the territory. This operation is part of three revolting political objectives of the Macron regime:
- To fuel the rise of xenophobic ideas in order to reach out to the extreme right, to promote actions against illegal immigration.
- To divert attention by asserting the firmness of the Macron regime confronted with the total opposition of the French people to its policies.
- To extinguish any attempt at solving the very serious problems of underdevelopment faced by this Comoros archipelago island. CRS (Republican Security Companies – police units for crowd control) and police clubs will not build needed roads, hospitals, schools, produce water and electricity and other production necessities, which Mahorais workers need above all because those are the only solution to the island's very deep social crisis.
According to journalists of La 1ere, the police operation began this Sunday with confusion and violence:
“The situation, according to our information, would have quickly degenerated. "It's chaos" tells us one source "it's a mess" for another. Indeed, Clashes have been taking place as part of Operation Wuambushu. Since Friday, France’s national police force, CRS 8, has been mobilized in Tsoundzou. Police officers were reportedly surrounded and in consequence, some police officers should have used their firearms. The CRS 8 and the Raid unit (another police unit of “rapid intervention”) intervened on site. Since Saturday, eight CRS police, including six this Sunday, have been injured according to a police source.”
But who can forget that Mayotte’s problems are rooted in colonial history and neocolonialism maintained, despite the departmentalization in this island of the Comoros archipelago? Who can forget that capitalism and EU imposed austerity make it impossible to solve the island’s very serious problems?
When independence was declared, the Comoros lost the island of Mayotte. While it is true that the 1974 referendum was pronounced locally with 2/3 votes for remaining part of France, the agreements of 15 June 1973 explicitly explained that the results of this referendum on December 22, 1974, should have been considered on a global basis and not on an island-by-island basis. At the proclamation of the independence of the Comoros, Ali Soilih led a socialist government and claimed the restitution of Mayotte. Paris, through its secret services, facilitated a coup d'état led by Bod Denard. Ali Soilih was then executed. The regime installed in the Comoros transformed Moroni (Capital city)) into a hub helping the circumvention of sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Since then, political instability has been maintained in the Comoros, which is the 21st poorest country in the world. The immigration of Comorians to metropolitan France and to the island of the Réunion is most significant, with an emigrated population larger than that of the archipelago itself.
It is an on-going fact that the UN and its General Assembly, since the resolution of November 12, 1975, relating to the admission of the Comoros to the United Nations, in which it reaffirmed the need to respect the unity and territorial integrity of the Comoros archipelago, composed of the islands of Anjouan (Ndzuwani), Grande Comore (Ngazidja), Mayotte (Maore) and Moheli (Mwali), has not ceased to recall the patent violations of Paris concerning Mayotte; for example the resolution 49/18 of 12/6/1994 for the twentieth anniversary of the referendum. An international law that particularly obliges the French. And in this matter, when the minister of interior, Darmanin, instrumentalizes the problems of underdevelopment of Mayotte in a dangerous wild goose chase with the RN of Marine Le Pen, it should be clearly said that those whom Darmanin designates as illegal in Mayotte do not violate UN resolutions. In 1995, the Balladur government introduced a visa regime for Comorians wishing to join Mayotte. Since then, the imbalances between Mayotte and Anjouan, and the integration of Mayotte as a department, mean that Mayotte accounts for a large proportion of illegal immigration to France, and almost half of all deportations.
Obviously, we are today at the beginning of a “love story” between Darmanin and Mayotte. This is the second time that he demonstrates his interest for the French overseas department. In 2022, he did express his wish to create reformatory centers for young offenders (10 to 12 years old) from Mayotte, while at the same time increasing means of repression for local police forces.
The current Minister of the Interior obviously very attracted to the idea of becoming Prime Minister, even if this means replacing the very unpopular Elisabeth Borne (present prime minister), will use everything at his disposal to make himself look good; his latest card being the immigration law soon to be voted in the National Assembly. With this, he is preparing a one-two punch in Mayotte from April 22 to June 17, still unconfirmed by the State, which will be the testing ground for future deportation procedures in France, hence Operation Wuambushu (which means "take back"). This operation, in the same vein as its 2022 coup, has the objective, at least on paper, of fighting immigration and gang crime. How? First of all, by destroying illegal dwellings built by Comorians (origin of the Mahorais people). If illegal migrants are caught, the police must bring them back to the Comoros Islands immediately. Half a thousand gendarmes are expected to participate in this operation. The CRS 8, which specializes in urban violence, will be sent to the front against gangs but especially against migrants who will end up crammed into detention centers too small to accommodate so many people.
This operation, of course, is supported by the local right wing, including the LR (The Republicans) member of parliament Mansour Kamardine, who is calling for "getting rid of these bands of barbarians". It must be mentioned that Mayotte is an overseas department that voted in majority for Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential elections ... And yet, it is also the poorest department of France with 77% of its inhabitants living below the poverty line. Industry is non-existent, hospitals are rare, epidemics are regular, and public services are deficient. This is to say that if we want to solve the problem of Mayotte and we mean to really solve it, Macron’s politicians should stop systematically resorting to the only solution they seem to know, “violent repression" and should implement instead, a real economic development of the island. Of course, providing people with work might raise their class consciousness, a very dangerous prospect, which the Macron regime fears most as it is witnessing the return of the working class in France itself with the huge social mobilization, which we are experiencing these days.
Apart from the authoritarian aspect of Darmanin's action, in addition to the cruelty of chasing away families with school age children, one must recognize the profound uselessness as well as the publicity stunt of the operation. Every year, there are such actions against Comorian migrants, and every year the flow of migration remains significant. Everything in the shantytown that will be destroyed will be rebuilt within two months. As for criminals, even before the operation, some of them seriously doubted that the operation Wuambushu would put an end to their activities. For years they have managed to escape the police after their crimes. This is a classic right-wing strategy, aimed at pretending to pound the table: tackle the consequences of poverty through repression, without addressing its causes, and then start all over when the consequences appear once again.
Young people from Mayotte, young people from France, let us not be fooled by Macron’s propaganda. Mayotte needs work, a real industrialization plan that respects its ecosystem and its inhabitants, an efficient public service including accessible and adequate hospitals, schools, post offices, new housing instead of slums. But we must be clear, it will not be Macron, destroyer of French social programs who will do it, nor will it be the EU, which does the same thing at the continental level. What is needed is a system putting human beings as well as work at the center of social life. This system has a name, overused by traitors, but which still shines, it is called socialism.