What Corsica has overcome a nuclear base in Argentella
Victorious, in 1974 and after a bitter battle (in the street and in court) of the multinational polluter Montedison which flowed into the Mediterranean of highly toxic waste (the infamous red mud), Corsica was not at his first attempt. Fourteen years earlier, the French government had actually opposed it by refusing to become a hotbed of atomic energy.
April 20: Ajaccio, Bastia, Corte, Marseille and Paris but also organized meetings to establish committees défensecontreceprojet. Many lawmakers, union leaders and representatives of associations call for mobilization.
April 23: in response to numerous letters it receives, Michel Debre assureque these experiments would not present the moindredanger for any living being and would be carried out from November to April, is ... off tourist season. A response whose content has the gift to exacerbate the anger of Corsican!
April 28: Balagna population gathers before the sub-prefecture of Calvi, the sound of the tocsin, demonstrating that the State refused to put his plan into execution.
May 2: while a large gathering at Ponte Novo populaireaétéorganisé, the prefect of Corsica, Bernard Vaugon made a statement in which he stated that nothing has been decided by the government. The beginning of the "retreat" of the state.
May 6: slogans strikes are launched on the island by several corporations.
June 14: qu'unemanifestation mass is then programmed on the site of the Argentella the Government indicated in a terse statement that the technicians on site to investigate the conditions for establishing the base, left Corsica. One way concealed (not to lose face) to announce that the project is abandoned.
Two scandals comparable in one respect: they provoked popular mobilization and thus bore fruit. But a fundamental difference between these two episodes, so that the evil was in progress on the discards of sulfuric acid, titanium dioxide and other substances of the same ilk, he was, cons nipped in the bud in the case of project-based nuclear testing, the government of Michel Debre was therefore envisaged to implement in Balagne.
"Have confidence: there is nothing to fear! "
Specifically in the massif Argentella whose site, according to experts at the time was perfect for this type of testing.
"Its size, its rock hard granite and large slopes will indeed absorb, in conditions of optimum safety, chemical and nuclear explosions of low importance that provoke these tests," Guillaumat had thus said Pierre, Minister for Atomic Energy, April 14, 1960 in Ajaccio. An argument supported by other details equally reassuring served by the same man: "The sound effects of these explosions are comparable to those of a mine for the opening of a road. The evacuation of nearby villages will not be necessary, these tests are not dependent on weather conditions (as ground) and any fallout will be due to fear of fusion and vitrification of the rock ... "
A message could be summarized with the slogan: "Have faith! Neither you nor your land have absolutely nothing to fear from such experiments ... " Should we see in extreme distrust of Corsicans - euphemistically - a manifestation of their survival instinct? The fact is that they do not let themselves be bamboozled as it is in unison - thus hear all political persuasions - they mobilized in record time, to oppose the project outright. A real outcry supported by all parliamentarians Corsican (including those of the Presidential Majority). Clearly, the State had not suspected that it may reach such proportions. Especially as his chief still held that territory for a very wide popularity. A General De Gaulle for as little surprise that representatives of associations suggest Corsican Paris to Michel Debre, they are expected to present no risk of pollution, the nuclear tests that have to be so ... Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises!
The government capitulated and fell back on Mururoa
With additional support from many politicians not Corsicans (including Gaston Deferre, the mayor of Marseille) and scientists (including the Cousteau) mobilization did stop and grow day by day until the government of Michel Debre finish so by throwing in the towel. And that's only three weeks (the day) after the announcement by the Minister in Ajaccio Pierre Guillaumat.
In the aftermath, the state fell back on Polynesia as the site for nuclear base was therefore in principle devolved "to Corsica. Six years later, debuted on the atoll of Mururoa chose these tests. It has yet to grasp the terrible damage on the local population of these experiments, which lasted thirty years.
"Trust" was probably the message that had been issued several months after the Corsicans do not want to hear ...
Not politicized at that time, the student community was very corse and is welded to a man he has reacted to this announcement. Mobilize the entire Diaspora has been his primary concern, with the support of Bastien Leccia and other influential compatriots. We have also sent a letter to Michel Debre in which we nemâchions not our words. Of course, we also made trips to the island to participate auxmanifestations organized by different organizations.
To what extent context he aided the successful cemouvement popular?
First, we were in the Cold War and the fact that Corsica might be targeted in case of conflict between East and West constituted a threat taken very seriously by all Corsicans. Secondly, the major difficulties encountered by Taiwan's economy incited them to feel abandoned by the state. But the only measure that it was considering taking over the island to locate a basic atomic might put the island further "quarantine" in terms of security measures have been taken to protect it from possible attacks. Instead of giving Corsica development tools, France sought to install an ultra-sensitive equipment or even very dangerous form of unbearable injustice!
What key lessons did you learn from this case?
That the Corsicans were still able to defend themselves! This battle of three weeks has awakened their potential to oppose what was wrong. He brought them out of a long period of lethargy in which the traditional political system was working to lesmaintenir. The record of Argentella has initiated a process of industrial action which, in the field of taxation, economic, environmental (the case of red mud) scored a strong awareness Corsicans they had the power of s emancipate. INTERVIEW WITH J-P.C