From the Editor:   Your editor first came to St. Barths in 1968, and has been a permanent resident for more than twenty years. He lives with his Franco-American family on a hillside overlooking Lorient from which he gazes fascinated by the unfolding panorama of a halcyon and unique way of life.
  May 2001
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    The distinguishing characteristic of this year's Municipal election is that it included the candidacy of a relocated Metropolitan Frenchman.
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  I wonder if incumbent Mayor Bruno Magras put him up to it.
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    Nothing could frighten local folk more, and, as a result, they rushed to the poles in unprecedented numbers, giving Mayor Magras - a native son - a landslide victory, vindicating his policies, and dampening the rhetoric of his foam-at-the-mouth critics for at least a week or two.
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    While France busily worries about becoming more American, St. Barths worries about becoming more French.
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    And well it should.
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    Historically, St.Barths has always had one foot in Mother France, and the other firmly planted in the USA.
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    Local folk may eat baguettes and gooey cheese, but when it's time to launch an enterprise or face a local emergency they behave far more like North Americans than Frenchmen.
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    This, of course, results from a parallel experience. Local folk descend from pioneering immigrants who carved a place for themselves in a hostile wilderness, and evolved ethical practices to suit the circumstances.
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    Now that 400 years of swatting mosquitoes, praying for rain, and working for a living has begun to pay off, an envious France want a generous piece of the action: officially in the form of new taxes, unofficially in the form of new immigrants.
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    Both are bearable in moderate dosages, but too much of either will upset the balance that has made St. Barths what it is, and make it, for better or for worse, into a different place.

    More to come,

    Peter O'Keefe


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