Last modified: 2022-12-31 by rob raeside
Keywords: st. maarten | saint martin | unity flag |
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‘SXM Unity Flag
The 'Unity Flag' is considered by many to be the national flag of St. Martin Island (St. Maarten/Saint Martin), a 87-square-kilometre (34 sq mi) Caribbean island, divided roughly into two halves between the French Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the two parts are roughly equal in population too. The division dates to 1648. The flag was created in 1990 to represent both sides of the island, and all St. Martiners as one nation. The design of the flag, and the symbols used, depict the island itself and its history. It stands for freedom, unity and local pride.’
Posted by Shabi Fiurnei, St. Martin, Caribbean, on FOTW Facebook page
26 December at 15:15 ·Philipsburg. Sint Maarten
NB Although it is not always obvious in the images, the two blue central horizontal stripes seem to be of different hues, the upper, lighter, the lower, darker. This is more evident in some of the pictures.
image located by Jason Saber, 2 January 2021
The significance of elements of the flag is explained on a plaque on the island [click on image for larger version]:
image located by Jason Saber, 2 January 2021
This symbol, designed in 1990, has been officially adopted on September 29,
2022, as the "joint symbol of the affirmation of the unity and identity of
Saint-Martin" by the territorial council of French Saint-Martin.
On August 23, the President of the collectivity of Saint-Martin, Louis Mussington, and the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Silveria Jacobs, met to reflect on "the importance to be given to the St Martin Unity Flag in [their] respective administrative context". Considering that "the two national communities [have always lived] in peace and harmony for centuries", that "the inhabitants of the island have repeatedly demonstrated their attachment to the question of the cultural unity of this territory", they agreed to adopt "a cultural symbol which would be common to both parts of the territory". And by mutual agreement, they suggested that this symbol be the St Martin Unity Flag, unveiled on August 31, 1990.
During the September 29 meeting of the Collectivity Council, six territorial councilors did not take part in the vote. Daniel Gibbs proposed that the whole population be associated with the choice of the flag, as had been the case in Guadeloupe and Martinique. "We are not against the unity but against the way the choice of the flag is proposed". The Economic and Social Council (CESC) requested the withdrawal of the deliberation for similar reasons. According to its president Julien Gumbs, "if the common flag is a project of a symbol of cultural unity shared by the CESC", the latter has "serious reservations about the methodology". He regrets that no "work to identify a base of common values shared by all inhabitants", has been achieved. He would have preferred "a collective approach". "It is a long and rigorous work that must be carried out so that each inhabitant considers himself a party integral part of a community. From this work at the territorial level will come out this base of shared values which can be symbolized on a flag"."
Territorial Councilor Dominique Louisy (Majority) insisted on “the cultural and historical character” of this flag which represents both sides of the island. “By adopting it as a joint symbol, no one else will be able to appropriate it”. Louis Mussington closed the debate which lasted almost 1h15. The president of the Collectivity does not share the opinion of his colleagues to consult the population on the choice of the flag. He thinks the inhabitants have already adopted it.
“The referendum took place on September 16, 2020, there were thousands of us in the street in Bellevue” (= at the border between the two parts of the island), waving this flag, he recalled; September 16, 2020 having been the day of the organization of the march to protest against the closure of the border during the health crisis linked to Covid-19. "This flag is not a political flag, but a symbol," he said. “We are entitled to assert our identity. We exist as a people and as such we have the right to adopt a symbol" which expresses this pride of a common identity.
President Louis Mussington wants this flag to be hoisted on November 11, the territory's common feast day. "It is a strong cultural symbol that will also pay tribute to the historian Daniella Jeffry who participated in the creation of this flag and to Dr Hubert Petit who was the mayor of Saint-Martin between 1959 and 1977. Do not see anything political in this symbol, but it is a strong and symbolic act for the cultural identity of the Saint-Martin."
Olivier Touzeau, 21 October 2022