Marisol Touraine in the Antilles : a double-edged visit

Will the Health Minister’s visit to the Antilles be as beneficial as expected?

Marisol Touraine is currently in Guadeloupe and must go to Martinique and French Guiana by Sunday in the context of the Zika epidemic. If the idea is certainly respectable and shows the State’s concern for our territories, the impact of his visit, however, should be examined in terms of image.

Generally speaking, a minister will never go anywhere without journalists who go out in the field interviewing people concerned by the issue. They also make news reports before the minister’s visit in order to announce it and especially present the issues. And the first articles have already been published in the national press, which is read by our islands’ potential customers. Will the multitude of Zika reports therefore be more detrimental than beneficial ? Ordinary people who see or read these reports will remember only one thing: the Zika virus is here and the State is trying to do something to fight it. And they will certainly prefer to postpone their trip another year.

Calling upon the State and its senior representatives in the event of a crisis is typically French. This happens every time there is a cyclone. Politicians declare that the hurricane has caused enormous damage all over the territory and that it is urgent to declare a state of emergency. It is a question of economic life or death. And at the same time, we blame the media for showing too many images of the damage.

It was the same in 2014 with the peak of violence in Guadeloupe. The archipelago’s elected representatives kept calling on Paris to implement additional means and so forth and then they complained that the national media talked too much about the subject.

It was also the same with the sargassum invasion. We welcomed the arrival of Ségolène Royal... but booed the articles showing beaches buried under the algae. With the Zika virus and the coming of the Health Minister to the Antilles during the peak tourist season, the same story is being repeated...

Estelle Gasnet