Mauritian day-to-day politics is usually very hard to link to political events in other countries. Usually, without a Marxist analysis of world-wide capitalism and imperialism, there is no apparent connection at all. But right now, events seem to show that the separating walls in all our minds, and in reality, are collapsing.
The Paradise Papers have made Mauritius hit the news – Mauritius is one of the main hell-holes for the filthy-rich to hide in so as to avoid or evade paying taxes or making any other contribution to society other than ripping off the rest of people. All the problems of the offshore sector being harmful to Mauritius, on the one hand, and to the places the money comes from and ends up in, on the other, are no longer kept in separate compartments. Now we can, through the Paradise Papers, see the offshore for what it is: the hellish mechanism for the richest in the capitalist class to keep their coffers outside of the usual social controls. In the BBC world service Panorama program, Mauritius is the star.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his private jet and big suitcases
Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s fired of dozens of his Princes, Ministers and other big bosses on 4 November 2017. This would seem to have nothing to do with Mauritius. But it came suspiciously close on the heels of the then Mauritian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Housing who also acted as informal “Minister of Arabia”, Showkatully Soodhun being caught on video with huge suitcases that he had formally vowed he did not have when he came off the Prince’s private jet on his way home from Saudi Arabia. Although the incident was on 3 August this year, the tapes were only published in the www.lexpress.mu program, Menteur Menteur, on 1 November, three days before the big coup. The Minister Soodhun has since stepped down over making communal statements about housing. He is also being charged with making death threats on the Opposition Leader.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is detonating all manner of geo-political problems, in torturing the people of Yemen, in threatening the people of the Lebanon, inter alia.
Sexual Abuse Scandals
While UK Defence Minister Fallon resigned, while Harvey Weinstein fled and enrolled for “treatment”, while Tariq Ramadan, who has been to Mauritius umpteen times, is no longer doing his teaching, research or supervising work at St Anthony’s College, Oxford University, while two Fox News bosses have been fired, and Kevin Spacey has been sacked from House of Cards, once again it is as though all the separating walls are collapsing. A huge uprising is taking place all over the world by sexually abused women (and in a few cases young men) against patriarchy and against sexual predators.
In Mauritius, there have been the timid beginnings of protests against Ravi Rutnah’s sexist remarks against a woman journalist, Kalyan Tarolah’s sex-messages exchanged with a young woman looking for a job, and Mamade Khodabaccus has been fired as PMSD President for thinly veiled rape threats on the woman Speaker in Parliament.
But, it is not a generalized movement. The sexual abuse by Jack Bizlall against LALIT woman members in 2008, for example, is still largely covered up by the political leaders, trade union leaders and the Press until today. Worse still, a journalist recently interviewed Bizlall, coming up with a tough question, “LALIT does not take you seriously, according to Ram Seegobin.” Jack Bizlall is allowed, in his reply, to get away with singling out once again a woman member for his counter-attack. Referring to Lindsey Collen, he says, “elle m’a agressé”!! He perpetrates sexual abuse, and then declares that he is the poor little victim. And then, although Lindsey is the supposed aggressor, Bizlall accuses her partner Ram Seegobin of having “mal defendu” her! This is just the usual macho garbage which we could all ignore if it were not so venomously dangerous. The journalist lets him get away with statements like this – the first defamatory, the second a macho non-sequitur (L’Express, 27 August 2017).
Diego Garcia already at the ICJ early Next Year
Right now the issue of Chagos including the Diego Garcia base is in the world news because finally the Mauritian State has taken the UK before the ICJ – even if the Prime Minister has been making a fool of himself by begging for a bit of rent money for the lease for the land for the US base! and selling out the African union that gave him principled support on the issue. This represents the way in which historical violence – like the stealing of part of a colony at the time of Independence and banishing the totality of the inhabitants to make way for an outlaw military base – does not get forgotten, if people (like us in LALIT and others) work at keeping the memory of it alive.
[Article based on discussion at a LALIT members’ assembly on 12 Nov 2017.]