DANY MARIE, STEFAN GUA, DAVID SAUVAGE, ASHOK SUBRON & CLENCY BIBI
For Rezistans ek Alternativ, General Workers Federation, Center for Alternative Research and Studies

Dear Hon. Deputy Prime Minister,

This is an Open Letter addressed to you by Rezistans ek Alternativ, General Workers Federation and the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies.

We refer to the exchanges between Rezistans ek Alternativ representatives and you, and we refer to your Statement in the National Assembly on the 28th July 2020, on the issue of Pomponette Beach.

As you are aware, Pomponette Beach has been the subject of struggle, of vast protest movements in which Rezistans ek Alternativ, the General Workers Federation and the Center for Alternative Research and Studies played a central role, since 2016. Many of our activists co-organised several campaigns for the last 4 years and have several times been the subject of police arrests and prosecutions. The latest being the trial where David Sauvage, National Committee member of Rezistans ek Alternativ, was found not guilty by the District Court of Souillac and the attempt to arrest and prosecute Ashok Subron by the CCID in July 2019.

The Pomponette struggles also crystallized, in a nutshell, the whole issue of beach grabbing and destructive tourism model adopted by the political and economic ruling class and oligarchy of Mauritius.

On the 1st of May of 2018, when Rezistans ek Alternativ, General Workers Federation and the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies proudly removed the shameful iron sheet ‘baraz’, we adopted a solemn declaration:

Ce 1er mai à Pomponette nous disons tous “ARET KOKIN NOU, ARET KOKIN TOU, ARET KOKIN NOU LAPLAZ, nous réclamons :

Le barrage érigé à Pomponette, doit être enlevé au plus vite. Nous demandons la LIBÉRATION de notre plage et qu’elle soit proclamée publique à nouveau.

En parallèle, que les projets d’hôtels en prévision soient suspendus, 

Cela doit aller de pair avec la mise sur pied d’une “Coastal land and Tourism Audit Commission” afin de replanifier, revoir le modèle de développement autour du tourisme. Il est grand temps que le “Integrated Coastal Zone Management” soit mis en place. Nous devons pouvoir évaluer tous ces projets de “Smart Cities”, immobiliers de luxe et faire reculer, arrêter ces constructions qui empiètent sur notre littoral déjà bien abimé et réduit.

Il ne faut plus construire d’hôtels sur nos plages. Que cela soit fait à l’intérieur des terres. Tout le monde doit pouvoir profiter du secteur florissant du tourisme : favorisons davantage les petites entreprises de Tourisme chez l’Habitant de qualité. L’écotourisme connaît un véritable succès ailleurs, pourquoi pas à Maurice ? L’Habitant peut pourvoir à cette demande, dans un esprit de partage, et de mise en valeur de l’authenticité de notre île.

Les conditions de travail dans l’hôtellerie doivent être revues.

Des lois qui doivent arriver au plus vite afin de préserver des Zones sensibles gravement menacées par les développements “sauvages” sur ces sites et autour. (Ex : “wetlands”, dunes de sable…)

Les voies de recours légales concernant les permis EIA doivent être revues afin de donner plus de possibilités aux citoyens d’intervenir pour la protection de notre environnement et de nos ressources naturelles.

The 1st of May 2018 was the second time we removed the fencing which interdicted access to Mauritians to their ‘commons’ and natural treasure. We also removed the said ‘baraz’ a third time on the 30th of June 2019, when the lease given by the Government to the South African Company legally elapsed. History has already given this civil disobedience movement, its credit for this epic struggle.

Given that the lease agreement with “Clear Ocean Hotel” has lapsed, Mauritian citizens are expecting that the 16.5 arpents forming part of the Public Beach be accessible and re-proclaimed public.

Instead of the above we are disturbed by your statement of 28th July 2020,  now, as at date, the site (Pomponette) is still earmarked for hotel development.” (underline is ours)

This is the most irresponsible statement a Minister could have ever made in this critical moment of our society, where some 100,000 people and their families, are living in stress, anxiety concerning the future of their jobs and well being. How can a responsible Government and Minister envisage the construction of a new hotel at Pomponette, when the old tourism model is on its knees, exposing its vulnerability and bankruptcy? A responsible government and Minister would at least put a halt and freeze to all new hotels projects, more so that many of them are causing prejudice to our people, coastal line, beaches and natural wealth.

Rezistans ek Alternativ, General Workers Federation and the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies, are solemnly calling on you, as a first step to put down the erected ‘baraz’ at Pomponette beach by the 16 of August 2020, to enable public access.

We are also informing you that failing to do so by you and your government will result in a massive pacific civil disobedience action by citizens and movements to pull down these shameful ‘baraz’, more so than they have become a public safety issue and is potentially endangering life of citizens. We will spare no effort to mobilize citizens, workers of the tourism industry, and citizens of the region to participate in such civil disobedience action, as taught to us by Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mandela.

Rezistans ek Alternativ, the General Workers Federation and the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES) are also calling on you, after the pulling down of the ‘baraz’, to take the following political decisions:

(i) for Pomponette be re-proclaimed forthwith a Public Beach;

(ii) a freeze and a moratorium of 25 years on the construction of all new hotels, smart cities and luxurious bungalows for sale to foreign billionaires;

(iii) to organise citizens’ conventions all around the coastal region to enable citizens, villagers, coastal people and all stakeholders to define an alternative people-led tourism, in harmony with ecosystems, well-being of citizens and coming generations.

We are sure that being now the deputy Prime Minister, you would at least stand by some of your foundational left wing principles and politics. The whole of the Mauritius will be awaiting your political decisions in the coming days. The coming two weeks will tell: will you stand by your principles, or are you one of these ‘fakes’?

This 4th of August 2020