The Caribbean, one of the most important Native American peoples,
spread from the South American continent to the nearest Caribbean
islands. They called the largest of the Little Antilles "Madinina",
which in the colonial period was called Martinique which became a
country of Central America. See
COUNTRYAAH for all countries in
Central America listed by
The sparse population and the almost complete absence of precious
metals meant that the French only began economic activities a
century and a half after the occupation in 1635. This occupation was
interrupted by brief periods of English rule.
In the second half of the 17th century, cultivation of sugar cane
transformed the natural landscape and put an end to the collectors'
era. There were changes in the production system and the labor
employed on the sugar cane plantations, with natives being replaced
by African slaves. Since then, monoculture has been decisive for
Martinique's role in the international division of labor,
strengthening the colonial relationship that still exists in France.
The dominance of the European minority - 12,000 owners of mills,
plantations and trading companies - and over 93,000 slave laborers,
created a myriad of conflicts called marronuage (the
collective rebellion of the slaves that formed truly liberated areas
within the colony itself). Historians of the time record the
existence of quilombos (autonomous resistance communities
under the leadership of the slaves. See also Brazil) in 1811, 1822
and 1833, just to mention the uprisings that shook Martinique in the
In the early 19th century, the crisis of capitalism led to
abandoning the traditional type of plantation on the island that
could not transfer capital to industry. It led to unprecedented
In 1937 Martinique's professional union was founded and became an
organizational expression of social agitation on the island. But it
is probably from the end of World War II that a political
consciousness is developing on the island, expressed in Franz
Fanon's writing. His orientation was Martinique-Algerian, and he was
an ideologist for the anti-colonialist struggle of the 1960's.
In 1946, the French government reformulated relations with the
colonies, and in 1948 created a department (similar to a
Danish county) for overseas possessions. From the beginning,
Martinique's middle class was up to the League with the French, but
other positions within the anti-colonialist movement postponed the
unit. To this day, the progressive organizations are divided between
those who seek increased self-government and others who think in the
fight for complete independence.
France has tried different approaches to counteract Martinique's
independence: in the economic sphere, the colonies were involved in
the development of high technology, and in the cultural sphere they
tried to imprint on the population a pattern of consumption as in
In 1992, the creation of the EU single market further aggravated
the economic difficulties. In the elections this year, there was a
deadly race between the right wing on the one hand and independence
supporters - or self-governing people - and the left wing on the
other. In the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, three-quarters of
voters abstained and showed hostility or at least inaction towards
further integration of the island into the European Union (EU).
Another sign of hostility to the EU was the banana growers'
demonstrations in protest against the opening of the European banana
import market from Africa and Latin America, the fruits of which are
cheaper than those of the "French" Antilles. The crisis worsened in
1994, when unemployment rose 20% and business investment fell
The island's future gave rise to disagreements between the
various parties at Martinique and was hotly debated in 1995-96.
While the Communist Party advocated for increased autonomy without
aiming for independence, Martinique's Independence Movement
(Mouvement de l'Indépendence de Martinique, MIM) demanded
negotiations for full independence.
In 1997, US pressure to favor Central America's banana production
over the Caribbean continued. Groups of Caribbean banana growers,
including the most important ones from Martinique and Guadaloupe,
demanded from the EU a price adjustment that was proportionate to
the increased production costs.
Social tensions rose in early 1998. Unemployment affected 40% of
the working population, which is a historical record for the
country. Strikes and demonstrations, initiated especially in the
health and transport sectors, followed one another with demands for
work, wage increases and better working conditions.
Claude Lise of Martinique's Progressive Party was re-elected in
March 1998 as chairman of the "Conseil Général", one of Martinique's
parliamentary chambers. Nevertheless, the elections progressed to
MIM, which now has a majority in the "Conseil General".
In March 2000, French President Jacques Chirac visited the
island. Here he was met with the demand of the island's residents
to, on the one hand, greater trade with the colonial power, and, on
the other, greater autonomy that could enable increased trade with
neighboring countries in the Caribbean.
In July 2000, Michel Cadot assumed the post of prefect of
As in colonial France, the euro began to circulate as currency in
Martinique from 1 January 2001.
In 2002, the French daily Le Parisien characterized the
conditions under which the hotels in Martinique and Guadeloupe
operated as a natural disaster. The director of the Accor hotel
chain, Gerard Pelission, informed the French president of the
aggressive attitude among the hotel staff in Martinique that carried
out strikes and hurt the hotels productivity and reputation. This
has so far resulted in a loss of 1500 jobs in 15 hotels.
On December 7, France conducted a referendum in its Caribbean
colonies on governance. The result turned out quite differently. At
St. Martin and St. Barthélemy, with 95.6% and 76.1% of the votes
respectively, decided to implement a reform that granted them the
status of the Collectivités d'Outre-mer (COM). In Guadeloupe and
Martinique, on the other hand, it was decided by 72.9% and 50.4% to
continue with the existing system - administration through a General
Council and a Regional Council.
The crisis in the banana industry worsened in 2004, when the
producers declared that they were no longer able to pay social
security taxes and taxes. They demanded that the French Government
respond to the situation.
In August, a plane from the Colombian airline West Caribbean
Airways crashed into Venezuela and everyone was killed. All
passengers were from Martinuque, which triggered country grief.
In 2006, the government wanted to implement labor market reforms,
but this encountered massive resistance in the population and had to
The general strike in Guadeloupe in January 2009 spread to
Martinique in February. The strike was triggered by the right living
costs, low wages and lack of work. After a 3-month strike, the
Sarkozy government in Paris agreed to raise the wages of the lowest
paid by 200 euros a month. The general strike made the ethnic,
racial and class tensions in the French colonies clear. Despite the
pay raises, the basic problems remained unsolved.
Martinique's Independence Party in coalition with the high wing
won the local elections in Martinique in December 2015 and got 33
out of the 51 seats in the local assembly. The leader of the
Independence Party, Alfred Marie-Jeanne, was then elected chairman
of the local assembly.