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Old 23-08-2015, 23:37   #1
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A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

While New Caledonia is usually a pretty benign place to visit, just now there is considerable civil unrest. The following clip from the New Zealand media this morning describes the situation:

Quote:
Talks Breakdown, Truck Blockade in New Caledonia Continues
Traffic disruptions in Noumea expected due to nickel export row
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 24, 2015) Disruption to traffic and businesses is expected again in Noumea today, as a blockade of New Caledonia's capital is set to continue.
Several access sites are expected to be blocked from early this morning by truck drivers frustrated by a decision not to allow low grade ore exports to China.
Last week they blocked all main routes into the city for days, allowing only emergency vehicles through, and many businesses on Friday opten to close for the day.
On Friday night, a young man died in a car accident involving one of the blockades, prompting the president of the New Caledonian government, Philippe Germain, to call for a return to order, to give respect to the grieving family.
The vice president of the union, CotrankMine, Wilfrid Mai, says he will not accept new negotiations without the presence of Daniel Goa, the president of the Caledonian Union, taking the role of mediator.
Radio New Zealand International
This situation lead to the following experience for Ann and I: (an excerpt from a note to my daughter)



We finally left Noumea yesterday. Things are getting interesting there; the truckies who carry nickel ore are protesting some gov rulings about who can sell what to whom (can't quite get a grip on the real issues... lots of contention about that), and have gone through several stages of ramping up the pressure on the gov. Started with parking a couple of hundred big rigs around downtown and leaving them. When that didn't work, they added all getting into their trucks and blowing their airhorns for 5 straight minutes several times a day . What a racket! Then a couple of days ago, they blockaded all the roads in and out of Noumea and the few other towns with any great population. Shut the town (and the whole country) down for 18 hours, lots of consternation. Then there was a marathon meeting with the officials and no resolution of the issues, so yesterday the blockade was renewed. We had dinghied into the marina Moselle harbour to do some shopping (panic buying was rampant and it was mobbed in the supermarket). The public market was closed. When we returned we saw a barge and two big tugboats at the entrance of the harbour. I realized that they were in the process of blocking the entrance, and we raced out to find one end of the barge shoved on the rock breakwater and a tug pushing the other end towards the other side of the entrance, moving very slowly. There was still a gap of a few feet... so we rushed into the gap, actually going under the bow overhang of the barge in order to not hit the rock wall. It was kinda scary, but we squeaked through without hitting anything. A few of the guys working the barge shouted things at us in French and/or Kanak, but we were away. Bloody good thing, too. If we had been trapped, it would have been quite difficult to get back to Insatiable and our home.

So, the cruising life adds another interesting experience to our memories! We sure hope that they can work out the issues and get the country back to normal... we will run out of red wine and brie before too long, and that would be serious, perhaps leading to mutiny.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 23-08-2015, 23:43   #2
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

Glad you got to your boat. Whew!

Where are you guys headed now?
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Old 23-08-2015, 23:56   #3
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

No such problem in Tasmania. IN fact I'm not sure if there's anybody alive down here. Pretty quiet.

Glad to see you got out OK.


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Old 24-08-2015, 01:09   #4
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

there is too much money involved for the colonial masters to allow the indigenous population to disrupt the export of nickel ore for too long.

the standard MO by the French in the colonies when they have a "Grave' " is their paramilitary CRS get flown in to restore order,local workers are replaced by philipinos,the conseil general,greases some palms,offers to build a new school,has a pig feast and everything returns to normal after a few weeks.

the French functionaires can then return to regular supplies of beaujolaise and camembert,the kanaks, in this case get some free handouts,a new school,and a few new local dignitaries put on the payrole...............
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Old 24-08-2015, 03:07   #5
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

FWIW,

So far, the Gendarmerie National so far have been maintaining a low profile.

Also, there is a lack of big enough tow trucks to remove the trucks, if they wanted to.

So far, it has been rather civilized. People don't like the inconveniences, the lack of fresh fruit and veg and bread, but to my knowledge, nothing nasty, as yet.

Did see one traffic accident's aftermath at a partially blocked roundabout; but no idea what caused it.

Ann
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Old 24-08-2015, 19:10   #6
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

Having visited New Caledonia some years ago, I found the history of the Kanak independence disturbing.

An "uprising" was neutralized by the French paramilitary, where the leaders were caught in a cave and machine-gunned to death some years ago. These leaders begged the Australian government to help, but the Australians did nothing.

I was traveling on my Australian passport and any Australian was not welcome, but interestingly my schoolboy French was noticed and I was told in English, " you are not Australian, you are a New Zealander".
"Pardon?" was my response, "how do you know?". " because Australians don't speak such good French, only Kiwis have that education". As I was educated in NZ he was correct. I was also advised to hide my Australian passport, and i would have no problems and that taxi driver was correct. I got on well with any Kanak as soon as they knew I was a Kiwi.

The French are awful with thier empire's citizens often raping the resources and giving nothing in return. (Look at the mess they left in French Indo China aka Vietnam) if they cared they would not test their nuclear weapons in the pacific, and the worker plebeians in this case are claiming some basic returns via industrial civil disobedience. It's also known as a strike for better conditions.

The French have a history already of using summary "shoot em up" methods in New Calidonia, and it is wise to leave Phare Amadee to port as one gets out of there. I hear the "isle of Pines" is worth a visit??. Tasmania (Hobart) is only good when the Sydney to Hobart fleet is in at Christmas time.
Merci buckets mate, and run over a French poodle a day in support.
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Old 24-08-2015, 21:44   #7
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

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Originally Posted by wugwa View Post
Having visited New Caledonia some years ago, I found the history of the Kanak independence disturbing.

An "uprising" was neutralized by the French paramilitary, where the leaders were caught in a cave and machine-gunned to death some years ago. These leaders begged the Australian government to help, but the Australians did nothing.

I was traveling on my Australian passport and any Australian was not welcome, but interestingly my schoolboy French was noticed and I was told in English, " you are not Australian, you are a New Zealander".
"Pardon?" was my response, "how do you know?". " because Australians don't speak such good French, only Kiwis have that education". As I was educated in NZ he was correct. I was also advised to hide my Australian passport, and i would have no problems and that taxi driver was correct. I got on well with any Kanak as soon as they knew I was a Kiwi.

The French are awful with thier empire's citizens often raping the resources and giving nothing in return. (Look at the mess they left in French Indo China aka Vietnam) if they cared they would not test their nuclear weapons in the pacific, and the worker plebeians in this case are claiming some basic returns via industrial civil disobedience. It's also known as a strike for better conditions.

The French have a history already of using summary "shoot em up" methods in New Calidonia, and it is wise to leave Phare Amadee to port as one gets out of there. I hear the "isle of Pines" is worth a visit??. Tasmania (Hobart) is only good when the Sydney to Hobart fleet is in at Christmas time.
Merci buckets mate, and run over a French poodle a day in support.
Wugwa, all I can say is that I disagree with most of what you have posted above. You are entitled to your opinions, but many of the 'facts" that you present require documentation to be taken seriously.

in no particular order...We have no intention of cutting our cruise short, nor do we worry much about being machine gunned. We find Tasmania to be one of the world's best cruising grounds in the summertime, especially AFTER the S to H boats have departed. The Isle de Pins has been ruined by cruise ship visits and is no longer very friendly to cruiser yotties. The French have curtailed testing at Mururoa , just as the British stopped testing in Oz and at Christmas Island and the Yanks stopped testing in the Marshalls. I have not seen any dislike for Aussies here, and there are lots of them about. in general, the Kanaks are friendly if you treat them respectfully, and we have never had any difficulty with them. The current unrest is related to governmental rules about export of nickel ore of low grade, not about working conditions for the "worker plebeians". While the Kanaks have not always been well treated, these days they enjoy what is likely the highest standard of living of any indigenous islander group in the Pacific, with decent education and health care available even in the villages.

About the only thing I can agree with is that we will leave Amedee light to port when we leave. If you leave it to starboard you tend to run into things.

Jim
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Old 25-08-2015, 00:33   #8
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
FWIW,

So far, the Gendarmerie National so far have been maintaining a low profile.

Also, there is a lack of big enough tow trucks to remove the trucks, if they wanted to.

So far, it has been rather civilized. People don't like the inconveniences, the lack of fresh fruit and veg and bread, but to my knowledge, nothing nasty, as yet.

Ann
Hope it stays that way.
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Old 25-08-2015, 00:53   #9
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

If we were a bit slack why did not New Zealand jump in and rescue them???
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Old 25-08-2015, 01:18   #10
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

Since those days, the times have moved on.

New Caledonia pioneered women mining truck drivers--they have fewer accidents than their male counterparts, and fewer hangover absences. The Aussies picked up on this and followed suit,

There's nothing we can do to help bad things that happened in the past. But, surely, when we can see what ought to be supported, now, we can do that. It is just that the present situation seems very strange.

People tell us that the Chinese have developed a fast way to deal with low grade ore. Then we hear that the Aussies process that. Then we hear the Chinese have not offered on the New Caledonian low grade ore.

Meanwhile, the rumor is that someone (unknown) wants to outs the current president.
There's a rumor the President wants xxxx??????

The news we get here basically states negotiations are continuing; the blockade of Noumea was lifted today (but no news of the other towns blockaded); we are told which markets are closed (so, by default, the others are *probably* open). It is unstable. So far, the pattern has been to lift the blockade for one day, then re-establish it.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Old Confucian curse: may you live in interesting times!

Cheers, guys,

Ann
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Old 25-08-2015, 05:36   #11
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

The question of why didnt NZ jump in is an enigma. I can't offer any ideas at all.
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Old 25-08-2015, 10:45   #12
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

We really enjoyed our brief stayover in Noumea waiting for better weather to get back to NZ. We found the Caledonians to be friendly and charming. The history of the Kanaks was not a pleasant one. The French colonial history is disturbing to the max but from our visits to French Polynesia, Vanuatu, and NC, we found that the new French seemed to be much better and treated the islands with more respect and much funding. That is not to say that there aren't bad actors in the government and business. But that is true everywhere, even in Australia. I don't know enough to take sides on the mining industry issues there but they sound similar to those in the rest of the world.
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Old 25-08-2015, 12:35   #13
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

Is it not the history of almost all civilized countries to run amok on the lesser advanced civilizations? Look at what Americans did to the American Indian. Look at the Australians treatment of the indigenous peoples. Look at how Spain raped the Incas and Aztecs.

If you have never read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond you should. Wikipedia description, "The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases), he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures, and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.


For example he cites why did the Europeans capture the Incas so easily versus why didn't the Aztecs obliterate the few hundred Spanish soldiers. It really is a fascinating subject if you like such discussions.

It is shameful how things went in many countries. Even in the Caribbean at the time of Christopher Columbus landing there were many different indigenous tribes. The Carib Indians subjugated all of them due to their superior leadership and military prowess. It is a story as old as the written word and oral history.
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Old 25-08-2015, 19:26   #14
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

I can't remember if I was watching a travel show or a YouTube video, but I saw something about NC that was from a few years old. There was some protest going on and the trucks were blocking the roads by parking or by driving slow.

Seems like what the Cate's are seeing today, has happened in the past.

Later,
Dan
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Old 25-08-2015, 23:27   #15
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Re: A Bit of Anarchy in New Caledonia

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I can't remember if I was watching a travel show or a YouTube video, but I saw something about NC that was from a few years old. There was some protest going on and the trucks were blocking the roads by parking or by driving slow.

Seems like what the Cate's are seeing today, has happened in the past.

Later,
Dan
Similar, but more of it. There was the slow driving and also horn honking going on. A regular 15 min. chorus of all of them honking at once, a formidable sound, for sure. Amusing at first.

This time, roads are completely blocked (it's not just a slowdown). No one comes in to work. Kids off because they can't get to school...and nor can the teachers.

I bet it will happen again, in the future, too. The issues are complex, and not well understood by me.

Ann
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