Schoelcher commemoration in Grand Case: Chance-Duzant wants “support for the little things we ask”

POSTED: 07/22/15 11:26 PM
Chance-Duzant-Gibbs-Labies - LBAttorney Patricia Chance-Duzant is on a roll during her address. Photo Today / Leo Brown





GRAND CASE, St. Martin – Victor Schoelcher, the 19th-century abolitionist writer who had a large influence on the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, leaves his mark every year in Grand Case when a celebration is held to honor his legacy. Also this year there was the traditional church service, the cultural parade and the speeches on the field next to the village’s cultural center. However, by inviting the chair of Grand Case’s community council Patricia Chance-Duzant to speak, the Collectivité called a lot of criticism upon itself, because the speaker did not mince her words.

“We have a lot of work to do in Grand Case,” Chance-Duzant said. “We are going to ask the Préfète to help us get the things done that we have not been able to get done before. We have asked for things in 2005; unfortunately that were the same things we asked for in 1980.”

The attorney dived right into the heart of the matter: “We have a crisis here in Grand Case. When it rains, it pours, and when it pours, we get flooded. I was ashamed to be a representative of Grand Case after the last hurricane. We were up to our knees in the water. We should be free of that crisis.”

Chance-Duzant suggested that floodings would not occur, if only “certain people do their job.”

“You cannot clean up the ravines twice a year and then sit down and twiddle your thumbs and think you are not going to be flooded. The ravines are filled with sand and trees. Do not let us go through this again.”

Chance-Duzant said that, when human efforts fail to do everything that is necessary to prevent flooding, there is no such thing as a natural disaster. “Clean up the bridge, the exits, the ravines, take out the trees,” she urged.

The attorney added that it must be possible to get funding to restore the bridge and to fix houses in Grand Case and shantytown.

“Slavery as we think of it in the old days is not slavery today. Greece has become a slave of Europe and is fighting for liberty. France has taken the initiative to support it. We want them to taken an initiative to support the very little things we ask for.”

Chance-Duzant noted that Grand Case is the gourmet center of the Caribbean and that the cobweb of overhead cabling does not go well with it. “You think that American and European tourists don’t see those things?” she asked.

The attorney furthermore urged the Collectivité to clean up the mess near the airport where, according to her, a dumpsite is developing.

Collectivité President Aline Hanson said later that there is a difference “between wanting to do something and having the financial capacity to achieve it.”

Hanson described emancipation and freedom as two universal values and that Victor Schoelcher championed them. “Human freedom is part of universal freedom; without respect, we have no society.”

The President described developments in the community – from the industrial Hope Estate, the renovation of the airport and the extension of the runway, to the opening of the slaughterhouse and the construction of the Cité Scolaire in La Savane that will house 900 students. The renovation of Chevrise, where buildings will be demolished and replaced with modern housing, is an ongoing project.

Hanson had a message for youngsters who robbed supermarkets in Grand Case and Cul de Sac and the pharmacy in Grand Case. “After you come back from Basse-Terre (the prison in Guadeloupe – ed.) you have to take your life into your own hands, because we won’t do it for you.”

Territorial Council member Daniel Gibbs and Préfète Anne Labiès also addressed the gathering.

The morning began with the traditional church service in the center of Grand Case. While dignitaries were in church, Bob Marley-songs blasted through the empty boulevard but as the hour progressed, more people trickled into the village for the parade.

Dignitaries led the way after the church service. MP Cornelius de Weever represented as the second acting president of the parliament of St. Maarten. There were no representatives from the cabinet in attendance. The parade led everyone to the field next to the Cultural Center. The Gunslingers and the Jolly Boys took care of the musical entertainment. In the evening, fireworks concluded the celebration.

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