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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Répondre rapidement aux inquiétudes des Antillais »

by Fernand Nouvet

“The Concerns of People in the French Caribbean Need to Be Answered Quickly”

Translated Sunday 24 February 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

An interview with Jacques Le Guen, president of the “follow-up committee” on the Kepone (chlordecone) [1] used in growing bananas.

What is the situation with regard to the Kepone
affair in the French Caribbean?

Jacques Le Guen: Yesterday, we summed up the activities of the “follow-up committee,” which was set up in November, to take stock of the status of the recommendations that were made in 2005. We determined that some of these recommendations have been acted upon, and that the task force was developing. The inter-ministerial delegate post for Didier Houssin has been set up, with government financing, and an overall action plan was presented in Martinique and Guadeloupe on January 21 and 22.

Is the government doing enough in view of the extent of the disaster in the Caribbean?

Jacques Le Guen: I was rather critical in my report, saying that between 2005 and 2007 it took a lot of time to set things up. But, since 2007 we have seen a significant acceleration on the part of the government, which is coming to grips with the problem. At the time of the “follow-up committee’s” communication, we set up a control committee. Parliament has three roles to play: the first is to vote the budget, the second to vote the laws, and the third is to check up on the activities of the executive branch. We proposed creating a control committee to supervise government action, with the agreement of the president of the National Assembly, Patrick Ollier. So this is a weighty political decision, which, moreover, was unanimously agreed to by the deputies who were present.

What are the key points with regard to this new committee?

Jacques Le Guen: This “control committee” will base itself on the scientific office, the technical options, etc. Its role will be to check that what has been promised is actually carried out. And if things are not sufficiently clear, we will ask to question the minister. The role of this committee will also be to make propositions, because it is important that we be able to contribute to the inter-ministerial delegate’s plan of action so that the questions of the people of the French Caribbean may be answered quickly. A financial budget of 36.2 million euros is foreseen for the next three years, which is not a small thing. We will be vigilant as to where this money comes from and we will also be vigilant as to how it is used.

[1For background: The English language Wikipedia article
on Kepone refers to earlier problems in the U.S., but is not nearly so up-to-date as the French version.

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