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Tourism Bosses Seek to Take over from Sugar Estates

27.05.2008

The Mauritius Tourism Authority is flexing its muscles, as the tourism bosses get the ascendancy over other sections of the bourgeoisie. The tourist sector capitalists have recently shown their intention of taking over the role of the big bad slave-owning bosses from the notorious sugar oligarchs. This way Xavier Duval, as tourist Minister, can inherit a role from his father, Gaetan Duval, who represented the sugar oligarchs in the Cabinet, when they were the section of the bourgeoisie that "ran the country".

After the tourism bosses got through laws that prevent anyone in the country from owning a pirogue unless they get a permit from the Tourism Authority, the Authority two weeks ago closed down a Pizza Hut restaurant in Quatre Bornes . . . because it did not have a permit from . . . the Tourism Authority. The Pizza Hut is in the most un-touristy place imaginable, opposite the bus station in an inland town. The management of Pizza Hut took the Tourism Authority to Court and won an order, permitting them to re-open. The judgment said they do not need a permit from the Tourism Authority.

Now, on the Saturday evening MBC News on 24 May, viewers were treated to Mr. Jose Rault, the Tourism Authority political nominee in charge, threatening people for sticking up posters. So, after not being free to have a boat nor to run a restaurant, people are now no longer free to express their ideas. The Tourism Authority's new vocation, as seen on TV, is whooshing posters off walls with high-pressure water-hoses. Tourists, he said, do not want to see posters. It is strange to see the quarters from which free expression are getting challenged.

The next day LALIT members continued our recent campaign to paste up posters, this time all over the north of the main island, calling for food crops to be planted on sugar estate land. It was very useful to have had so many surfaces prepared for our posters, having been made smooth by the automatic high-pressure hoses. Other local associations, running neighbourhood committees and announcing voluntary blood donations in the areas, had also taken advantage of the cleaned up surfaces.

Ironically, the posters bearing the horse symbol in bright blue, advertising the Tourist Minister Xavier Duval's Labour Day Meeting, are amongst those being blown off the walls by Mr. Jose Rault's men.

Posters have always been used by Mauritians for making clear political demands, and for informing people of local events. They are a vibrant part of freedom of expression in the country.

The Tourism Ministry has also managed a take-over bid on the commercialization of the Creole culture. His ministry now runs a celebration for the tourist sector, attempting to turn Mauritians into items of folklore, up for sale.