Skip to main content

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview:
***

Linda Aïnouche
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal people are excruciatingly persecuted by their government, are martyred for their lack of visibility; they unintendedly become the victims of neglect.
In recent months, I went several times to San Andres to meet the islanders for recording their voices smitten by the depths of despair and tears. Going back and forth on a scooter, a small camera on my backpack, to meet one Raizal person after another, I have tried to capture the oppressive and harsh slices of life, full of pangs and emotions, their voice, their vision, and their struggle for existence.
As an anthropologist and an explorer of remote areas of the world, I have tried to exhibit how the Raizal of San Andres cry for their pain, fearing disappearance. It’s a violation of their human rights, loss of their culture and territory, and the unfairness they are subjected to in name of geopolitical and political strategies.
Their abandoned and isolated Caribbean islands to the rest of the world hold the worst of a bunch of miseries (drug, trafficking, gun smuggling, prostitution, robbery, bribery, kidnapping, repression), where, inexorably, police are thieves in the streets. “Marooned in the Caribbean” seeks to capture this reality of the Raizal people, who are fiercely mistreated, whilst their islander identity is ceaselessly getting perishing.

Contextualization

The San Andres archipelago is inhabited since the 16th century, although it barely exists on geographical maps. Is it because it looks too tiny to be shown, or is it willingly hidden for concerning affairs?
In the mid-1960, the Colombian government initiated a Secret Plan – so it is called – for the archipelago, which has ultimately come to be effectively implemented. The intention was to reduce the Raizal people, their culture, their territory, their rights and identity to nothingness. One of the worst aftereffects of this is, within a couple of decades, the archipelago has become a lucrative touristic destination for the State of Colombia, whilst the Raizal people continue to be abjectly forsaken and dispossessed by their government. As a result, they have today become a minority on their own land.
On November 19, 2012, the Raizal lost a good amount of their territory in the sea, which has been bequeathed to Nicaragua in the aftermath of a trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and one of the justifications for doing it was that the archipelago was uninhabited. The question is, why did the Colombian government allow this? Today, while living on the island, the sea and the soil, the Raizal are fighting a losing battle to preserve their territory.
In 2000, UNESCO declared the San Andrés archipelago a Seaflower biosphere reserve in order to help protect its ecosystems from overexploitation and other direct threats. And yet, nowadays, the coral reef has been fully destroyed, the massive garbage in the sea from tourism is uncontrollable, and coupled with overpopulation on the islands, global warming continues to cause irremediable damages to the environment.
Documenting the reality of the Raizal and efforts to dehumanize them in the mainstream Colombia is, in a way, continuation of the theme pursued in the “Dreadlocks Story”, which concerned how Indian settlers live in Jamaica. “Marooned in the Caribbean”, like “Deadlocks Story”, tells the story of how social justice is denied in the Caribbean.
“Dreadlocks Story” covered a large period of time under the British Colonial era, which ended up in the middle of the 20th century, in 1947 for India, and in 1962 for Jamaica, whereas “Marooned in the Caribbean” compiles the present – hidden – colonial treatment that the Colombian government imposes on the Colombian fellow citizens on their territory.
Although Rastas were persecuted, the Rastafari movement emerged in Jamaica, initiated by Leonard Percival Howell, the founding father of the Rastafari. Howell published his prominent teaching in 1930s under a complication of texts signed by the nickname Gangun Guru Maragh. People could not pronounce this name, so they have shorted it in Gong.
The 'First Rasta' is the facto another title given to Howell who was the first man who spoke Rastafari in the island of Jamaica. Now, the Rastas are being progressively accepted in Jamaica, as well as in the Caribbean basin; they are, in fact, present all over the globe today.
The system of indenture labour system that enslaved Indians came to an end in 1921, although the last boat arrived in Jamaica in 1917. The indentured labour system – put in place in the aftermath of the Atlantic slavery to replace the emancipated African slaves with the indentured Indians on colonial plantations overseas -- came under widespread attack in the early decades of the 20th century.
MK Gandhi’s involvement in the movement for the abolition of indenture, following the abolition of the Atlantic slavery, has been called the “second abolition”. It helped launch his political career in India. Yet, ironically, the campaign against indenture occupies an obscure and undigested role in the scholarship on Gandhi and modern India.

Demagogic stance

The Colombian government exercises violation of human rights on its population at a time it is internationally claiming to participate in a national peace agreement. This is unfolding when the Raizal people are reduced to being bullied, are forced to deal with smugglers, which is hanging like a Damocles’ sword hanging over their head.
“Marooned in the Caribbean” seeks to remind one that the Raizal people are not just images and numbers, but individuals with families, friends, and lived stories of loss, hope and anxiety. It follows some of the themes developed in “Dreadlocks Story”, which became an excellent pedagogical tool for drawing parallels with the Indian indentureship system in the Caribbean, the fight of the Rastafari and the cultural, and the social process that emerged from the atrocious European imperialism.
It articulated the trajectory of cultural, internal and external encounters, that prompt an ongoing articulation of the Rasta identity. It was a successful and intriguing addition to the literature and visual discussions of this archetypal community. “Marooned in the Caribbean”, on the other hand, aims at representing the Raizal people as helpless victims in need of more attention, seeking to be turned into an effective, empathetic community of marooned people in the West Caribbean basin against the backdrop of oppressive violence of the administration.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”