Chance-Duzant takes aim at the Collectivité during Fête speeches | THE DAILY HERALD

GRAND CASE–Outspoken district representative Patricia Chance-Duzant stoked controversy in her address during the Victor Schoelcher Fête official speeches on Saturday in what may, or may not, be her last stint as a district council representative due to the reshuffle of districts and boards due to take place on August 3.

But it was not unexpected. Audiences have become accustomed to turning uncomfortably in their seats during one of her tell-it-like-it-is speeches. For new Préfète Déléguée Sylvie Feucher, the tone and content may well have come as a surprise. Interestingly, the two were seen chatting together after the ceremony.

“In the organic law, district councils are supposed to be consulted first on matters of the territory, whether it be changes in urbanism, perimeters, land management, roads, equipment, education, and social matters, before going to a vote in the Territorial Council but since this party was elected in March 2017, not once did they solicit the advice of the councils,” she railed.

“Last year, I begged the Préfète, Presidents and Vice-Presidents to unite and prepare for hurricanes. I warned that we were in danger, but nothing was done. The Collectivité is not listening to us; no freedom of speech, but abuse of power and human rights. We could have been better prepared.”

President Gibbs did not rise to the bait, only referencing her speech by atoning for the slow pace of reconstruction and state of the Boulevard in Grand Case due to the burying of cable and network infrastructure.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience during this process,” he said. “But the last thing you can say is that nothing is happening. I could accept that not enough is happening, but to say nothing has been done, I cannot accept that Mme. Chance.”

He said the Boulevard will be temporarily resurfaced mid-November 2018. Other drainage work will take place in the Spring of 2019.

Territorial Councillor Jean-Raymond Benjamin, in a short address, asked inhabitants of Grand Case to be patient with the reconstruction process. “It’s going to take some time for us to do a proper job to get everything back the way you deserve it,” he said.

   Continuation of speeches then took on a more traditional tone with references to Victor Schoelcher and other abolitionists. Senator Guillaume Arnell, Préfète Feucher, and Députée for St. Martin and St. Barths Claire Guion-Firmin all spoke.

President Gibbs mentioned the birthdays of former Mayor Albert Fleming in the audience and his own father Victor. He also noted some confusion over whether Schoelcher’s birthday was on the 21st or the 22nd. Wikipedia indeed mentions his birthday as being July 22.

 Earlier the dignitaries attended a church service before viewing the parade on the Boulevard. Something different this year was the presence of the Scouts and Guides of France who took part in the parade with Grain d’Or dancers and Association SXM Majorettes and listened to the speeches.

The scouts are on the island for one month helping with reconstruction and clean-up. Dutch-side Minister of Tourism Cornelius de Weever was also present for the Fête. Speeches ended with the usual toast of champagne.

Traditional games, island boat racing, and other activities took place in the afternoon, followed by live bands and entertainment from the stage throughout the evening.

Source: The Daily Herald