Kanaks Rebel Against French Settlers

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[National Liberation] [Anti-Imperialism] [Principal Contradiction]

Kanaks Rebel Against French Settlers

Months after rebellions began in Kanaky (aka New Caledonia), fighting continues against the French militias and colonial forces. In New Caledonia, voting is restricted to families who have been living there since 1998.(1) This is in order to establish the dominance of the natives over the settlers in the voting system. On 2 April 2024, the French Senate voted for an amendment to the rule which would allow voting for anyone who has lived in New Caledonia for a continuous ten years, on a rolling basis.(2) This triggered the resistance of the people, as one Kanaky source recently reported:

“The toll of the riots since May 13 is very heavy: Nine people were killed and hundreds of others injured, 200 houses burned or looted and nearly 900 businesses closed. A first estimation raises the “damage” to 1.5 billion euros. More than 3,000 soldiers, gendarmes and police were deployed there by the colonial State. Great victory for the Kanak people: hundreds of French families made the decision to pack their bags and leave the colony for good.”(3)

However, the struggle over voting rights itself has cooled as parliamentary crisis struck France, and French President Macron announced on 12 June 2024 the suspension of the proposed changes in voting rights in New Caledonia. France is now focused on an emergency election at home to try to prevent a sharp rightward turn in the parliament and presidency.

Background on Kanaky

For our readers to understand New Caledonia (home of the Kanak), we might use a shortcut of thinking about Puerto Rico (home of the Boricua). New Caledonia is an island near Australia and Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) claimed by France with a history of brutal colonization and imperialist domination. Europeans arrived in Kanaky in the late 18th century, beginning the colonial period in which the natives (Kanak people) were enslaved, sold, exposed to European disease, displaced from their land and placed on reservations. After France gained control of the area, nickel was discovered in the territory and the French government began sending prisoners to extract the resource and settle on the land. Ever since that time settlement has continued, though the Kanak people remain the largest group.(4) The Kanak people have been struggling for independence and liberation for generations, with recent events reflecting the latest upsurge of resistance. In recent years, the liberation movement has engaged in violent resistance to the sale of their nickel mines.

As mentioned above, New Caledonia hit news headlines after France proposed allowing all immigrants, including newer settlers, to vote in elections on the island. On 15 April, tens of thousands protested the bill, and on that same day the French National Assembly voted in favor of it, moving it one step further towards being passed. In May, violent protests of Kanak people were responded to with the arrest of hundreds and the French deploying their armed forces to suppress the movement. This deployment of forces starkly reveals the absurdity of a “free choice” to be independent. As MIM said about Puerto Rico in 1998:

“The Puerto Ricans have tried for decades”to persuade” the United States to leave, but only dictatorship (organized force) will settle the question. Without the freedom to keep the Yankees out, the elections only show what the Puerto Rican people will say with their arms twisted behind their backs.”(5)

One of the major arenas of struggle has been the independence referendum. There have been three of these in the past 4 years; in the first two the option to remain a territory of France narrowly won (56.6% and 53.2%), and nationality played a major role in the decision. Kanaks generally voted for independence while the other minorities generally voted for dependence. In the third, the independence movement boycotted the referendum, resulting in a 97% victory for dependence, but the turnout was only 43.9%, throwing its validity into question.(6) The protests and riots in May led to the declaration of a state of emergency (lifted after May 31) and the deployment of reinforcements from France. Barricades were set up by independence protesters and in earlier reports, the clashes led to the death of two French Armed Forces personnel, and injury of over 54 police officers.(7)

The struggle for an independent New Caledonia is a revolutionary struggle against imperialism. New Caledonians fight France, Palestinians fight I$rael, and the oppressed here in Occupied Turtle Island fight the United $tates, all in a united struggle against a common enemy. The struggle in Puerto Rico against the corrupt government of Ricardo Rosselló is no different. Puerto Rico was acquired by the United $tates in the bloody wars of its ascendancy into an imperialist power.

Imperialism is the number one enemy of the self-determination of nations, reaching its hands across the globe to squeeze every last drop of profit it can find. The struggle of the oppressed nations, wherever they are, is the number one weapon against this imperialist system, and that weapon is ever more powerful the more the oppressed nations ally with each other and fight imperialism as one. Puerto Rico has a history of independence movements being co-opted by leaders trying to get a slice of the imperialist pie. The movement for statehood represents this tendency, while the independence movement is the movement for national self-determination against imperialism. In both New Caledonia and Puerto Rico, the referendums have shown the majority of the population voting to remain a part of their imperialist occupiers in order to access certain benefits, whereas the independence movement represents the revolutionary opposition to national oppression and the upholding of self-determination.

Kanaky Will Be Free! Palestine Will Be Free! Puerto Rico Will Be Free!

1. Giorgio Leali, 16 May 2024, Nickle, guns and foreign powers: How France’s New Caledonia reached the bring of ‘civil war’, Politico.
2. Explainer: What sparked New Caledonia’s Deadly civil unrest?, RNZ.
3. F.W. 20 June 2024, France: Kanaky (New Caledonia): The flame of revolt is not extinguished, CAuse du Peuple - tranlation by redherald.org
4. CIA World Fact Book, 2024
5. MC5, 22 March 1998, Puerto Rico’s relationship to U.$. imperialism and Puerto Rico’s class struggle, MIM Theory 14: United Front, 2001, Page 49.
6. AP, 13 December 2021, New Caledonia votes to stay with France, but it’s a hollow victory that will only ratchet up tensions, The Conversation.
7. AP, 14 May 2024, France imposes curfew in New Caledonia to quell independence-driven unrest.