STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE JULIAN R. HUNTE
MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL
TRADE & CIVIL AVIATION
Following intense lobbying by the Government of St. Lucia, it was agreed that a
Visa Waiver Regime be introduced from March 2000 for an initial period to be
followed by a review, to facilitate St. Lucians travelling to Martinique and the
other French Overseas Departments of the region for durations not exceeding
fifteen (15) days.
Since the commencement of the Regime there has been a significant increase in
the number of St. Lucians travelling to Martinique. Data obtained from the
French revealed that in the first 12 months of the regime’s operation, there
were 27,081 St. Lucians travelling to Martinique, representing an increase of
117% or more than double the amount for the previous year.
It is clear therefore that the Visa Waiver Regime has had a significant impact
in facilitating travel between St. Lucia and Martinique, and large numbers of
St. Lucians have benefited and continue to benefit from the regime.
It is with great concern however, that the attention of the government of St.
Lucia has been drawn to a number of developments that have served as obstacles
to the smooth functioning, or even continuation of the regime. The French
Authorities have drawn to the Government’s attention that a significant number
of persons (some 10%) of entrants) were not registered as having left
Martinique. In addition, it appeared that many persons were using the Visa
Waiver Regime to the extent that they were more resident in Martinique than in
St. Lucia. Further, a significant number of persons continued to enter
Martinique through unofficial points such as Marinas and beaches, while
significant numbers continued to be engaged in criminal activity in Martinique.
It has been revealed that up to last week, there were 64 St. Lucians in prison
The situation is serious enough to have warranted two (2) meetings being held
here last week to discuss the issues.
At the first meeting, Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony, myself as Minister for
External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation and H.E. Anthony
Severin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the Office of the Prime
Minister, met with H.E. Mr Henry Vidal, Ambassador of France to St. Lucia to
review the implementation of the Visa Waiver Regime currently in place for St.
Lucians travelling to Martinique and other French Overseas departments of the
At that meeting, the Prime Minister placed on record the appreciation of the
Government and people of St. Lucia for the Visa Waiver Regime instituted by the
government of France.
He noted that the relationship between Martinique and St. Lucia was held in very
high regard by the people of both countries and expressed the view that the Visa
Waiver Regime had helped to strengthen economic and cultural ties between both
peoples. He assured the French Government that the Government and law abiding
people of St. Lucia would want nothing to obstruct or harm the special
relationship that had developed between the two countries.
This was followed last Wednesday by a visit to Martinique by a delegation led by
myself as Minister of External Affairs and including officials of my Ministry to
hold discussions with the Prefect on these matters.
At that meeting, I took the opportunity to stress the importance of the new
arrangements for St. Lucians travelling to Martinique for bona fide reasons, and
lamented the fact that problems were being experienced. The Prefect highlighted
the need to sign the proposed bilateral Agreement for the return of persons
found to be in either territory illegally. Further discussions are to be held on
It is in the best interest of St. Lucia to ensure the unhindered operation of
the Visa Waiver by ensuring that the negative elements be kept out of Martinique
and that punitive measures be adopted for those who do not comply.
Let me take the opportunity to appeal to St. Lucians to ensure that nothing is
done to cause the situation to deteriorate further.
Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade & Civil Aviation
August 13, 2002