Grand Case Fête dedicated to the slavery abolitionists

GRAND CASE–President Daniel Gibbs, in his speech at the Grand Case Fête on Friday, reminded that it was not only Victor Schoelcher who fought to end slavery, but other abolitionists from Delgrès, Toussaint Louverture, to the Martinique member of Parliament Auguste-Francois Perrinon were also equally deserving of the credit.

Perrinon, who died in St. Martin in 1861, worked alongside Victor Schoelcher to end slavery in the French Caribbean, he noted.
“Their determination, the courage of their convictions, forced the government of the second Republic to sign the second decree to end slavery on April 27, 1848,” Gibbs said. “But sadly, modern forms of slavery still exist throughout the world today, and we all have a responsibility to be vigilant on crimes of human exploitation, organ trafficking, prostitution, begging and forced labour.
“Today we pay tribute to Victor Schoelcher and remembering him is testimony to our solidarity and respect for the struggles of our forefathers for more freedom, less oppression and to escape from slavery.”
This year’s Victor Schoelcher Fête was shorter than usual since the parade did not take place on the Boulevard as planned, leaving elected officials to go straight from the church into the speeches. A short parade of sorts did take place later, however, at the Cultural Centre with Explorateurs Drum Band and the SXM Majorettes.
Gibbs, who gave the third of five speeches, joked he was not sure whether to give a political speech or stay on message with the slavery theme, after following the speech of Grand Case district representative Patricia Chance-Duzant.
Chance-Duzant once again had elected officials cringing in their seats with her outspoken remarks, but acknowledged the new Gibbs administration still in transition could not really be held responsible for what she viewed as bad decisions of the past.
She complained she had not been contacted about hurricane preparedness for the district, criticised the state of the roads, insisted on repairs to the historical pier, and brought up the controversial issue of Grand Case Beach and sun loungers over which she said there are “legal issues.”
She ended by thanking the people for their support to her Députée election campaign. Gibbs, when he got up to speak, did not respond to all her remarks, instead telling her that “she will always have a voice here.”
“This is not a national Fête, it is our Fête and you will always be welcome,” he added. “This is about an open team and we are afraid of no one. To the contrary, we enjoy being with everyone.”
Jean-Raymond Benjamin, President of Grand Case Cultural Centre, and whose father Victor Benjamin was celebrating a birthday, said a new Grand Case Cultural centre is back on the drawing board after plans by the former Aline Hanson administration were rejected. He said the old building will be torn down and a new one built, but had no details of a time frame.
Other speeches were given by Préfète Déléguée Anne Laubies and Députée for St. Martin and St. Barths Claire Javois. As usual, speeches ended with a champagne toast.
Audience members included former Mayor Albert Fleming, who celebrates his birthday today, Territorial Council members, President of the Economic Advisory Council Georges Gumbs, former Dutch-side Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Father Cornelius Charles, Pastor Eugene Hodge and members of the clergy, and representatives of the District Councils.
The Fête celebration continues today and Sunday in Grand Case, with traditional activities, sports, non-stop live music and animation from the main stage on the ball field.

Source: The Daily Herald