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World Association of International Studies

Post My Diplomatic Service in French Caribbean
Created by John Eipper on 04/12/17 3:45 AM

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My Diplomatic Service in French Caribbean (Timothy Brown, USA, 04/12/17 3:45 am)

During my four years as US Consul General in the French Caribbean, 1983-87, my portfolio included Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana. My office was in Martinique, arguably the oldest American "diplomatic" post
since the Revolution, but my responsibilities included all three of them. WAISdom's history buffs might find the story of the first "American" representative in the French Caribbean The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham 1752-1804 (by Robert C. Alberts) very interesting since Bingham was the American Revolution's key representative in the Caribbean during the Revolution, well before my time there. What is still largely unknown is the importance of France's presence in the Americas to this day.

While I spent most of my time in Martinique, I made a point of also visiting Guadeloupe and Guyane Francaise for a week or so every three months. All three were then and still are both fascinating and important to the US for many reasons, which is largely why I dedicated the last chapters of Diplomarine to them. Because all three are integral departementes of France, France--and through France both NATO and the EU--have common borders with several Caribbean countries plus Brazil and Suriname. Since my tour in Martinique, the United States has closed all of its bases in Panama and Puerto Rico, save its rented coaling station at Guantánamo, Cuba, this has made France the strongest member of NATO in the Western Hemisphere south of Florida, with an Army regiment in Guadeloupe, a Marine Regiment in Martinique, the 3rd Foreign Legion in French Guiana, and smaller naval and air units and NATO's regional communications in Fort de France, Martinique. For security reasons the 3rd Legion is located in Kourou near Euroespace's satellite launching pads and its nearby facilities.

If you want to vacation on an idyllic Caribbean island, I recommend Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barths or the French side of St. Martin. But if you'd rather get to know what is probably the most exotic and little-known province of France, I recommend going to French Guiana. Just be sure to have a yellow fever shot before you do.

JE comments:  "Well before my time there"--great quip, Tim!

Even (especially?) Latin Americanists know next to nothing about French Guiana.  I must visit someday.  Tim--were St Pierre and Miquelon, probably the most obscure outposts of France, part of your diplomatic portfolio?  St P and M are the only part of France that Americans and Canadians can drive to.


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