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Les Abymes (Municipality, Guadeloupe, France)


Last modified: 2023-05-13 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Les Abymes, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 13 February 2017

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Presentation of Les Abymes

The municipality of Les Abymes (57,960 inhabitants in 2013; therfore the most populated municipality in Guadeloupe; 8,125 ha) is located just north of Pointe-à-Pitre.

Les Abymes was established in 1691 and erected as a parish in 1726. In the middle of the 18th century, the boom of Pointe-à-Pitre, soon the made trade center on the island, prevented the development of Les Abymes. A new parish was created in 1846, counting 4,400 inhabitants, 4,300 slaves included; six years later, the village was moved 5 km from Pointe-à-Pitre;, which allowed the merging of the sugarcane estates surrounding the settlement. Les Abymes became a main center of cane processing and of worker's struggle: big strikes broke out in 1895, 1910, 1956 and 1962 in the Darboussier sugar house, established in 1869.
In the late 1950s, Les Abymes morphed into a urban suburbs of Pointe-à-Pitre while the international airport was built on its territory. Sugarcane cultivation declined, especially after the closure of the Darboussier factory in 1980.
[Guadeloupe-Guadeloupe website]

Les Abymes is the birth place of several French sportsmen and sportswomen of international fame, including:
- the judoka Teddy Riner (b. 1989; 2.04 m, 136 kg), gold medalist at the London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) Olympic Games, and at the World Championships (2006-2015), defeated only twice in elite championships.
- the athlete Christine Arron (b. 1973), gold medalist in the 4 x 100 m relay at the World Championships 2003 and at the European Championships 2004, and in the 100 m at the European Championships 2004.
- the basketball players Florent and Micka‘l Piétrus.
Florent Piétrus (b. 181) won the French top-level league with Pau-Orthez in 2001, 2003 and 2004, the Spanish top-level professional league with Málaga (2006), and the EuroCup 2010 with Valencia. He played 230 times with the French national team (2001-2016), winning the gold medal at the European Championships 2013.
Mickaël Piétrus (b. 1982) won the French top-level league with Pau-Orthez in 2001 and 2003. Playing in NBA from 2003 to 2013, Mickaël Piétrus was Eastern Conference champion with the Orlando Magic in 2009, being defeated the same year by the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals of the NBA championship.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 1 April 2017

Flag of Les Abymes

The flag of Les Abymes, as seen in January 2017 at the Petit-Pérou roundabout, is white with the municipal logo. The motto "Vers l'Excellence" (Towards Excellence) refers to the Communauté d' agglomération Cap Excellence (Les Abymes, Pointe-à-Pitre, Baie-Mahault).
The former flag of Les Abymes (photo) was white with the municipal coat of arms and the words "Les Abymes" and "Guadeloupe" below.

On the arms, the base azure represents the sea, while the mounts represent the hills locally known as mornes. The tree with roots in the sea is a mangrove (in Guadeloupe, mostly black mangroves, Avicennia germinans (L.) L., and Avicennia schaueriana Stapf & Leechman ex Moldenke), representing the local mangrove swamps (presentation).
The sugarcane plants placed beneath the shield recall the main crop in the municipality. The stylized flight surmounting the shield represent the Guadeloupe - Pôle Caraïbes international airport.
[Guadeloupe-Guadeloupe website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 1 April 2017

Use of the red flag in Les Abymes


Red flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 January 2003

A red flag can be spotted on several monuments in Les Abymes, whose mayors have been membres of leftist political parties for years, for instance:
- on the statue of Nelson Mandela by the sculptor Jean Moisa, erected in 2014 at the Petit-Pérou roundabout), together with the flags of South Africa, France, European Union, and Les Abymes.
- on the statue of Joseph Ignace by the sculptor Jacky Poulier, erected on Boulevard des Héros. Joseph Ignace was an early opponent to slavery (long before the first abolition ordered in 1794) and an ardent supporter of the independence of Guadeloupe. Fighting against the restoration of the slavery imposed in Guadeloupe by Bonaparte, Ignace was killed in action with his companions on 25 May 1802.
- on the memorial of the Sacrifice of Delgrès, another statue by Poulier, erected on Boulevard des Héros. As the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Basse-Terre, this mulatto took the head of the revolt against Richepance, who ha been ordered by Bonaparte to re-establish slavery. On 20 May 1802, Delgres and his troops withdrew to the fort of Basse-Terre, which they had to abandon to take shelter at the foot of the Soufriére vulcano at Matouba. On 28 May 1802, finding himself lost, they ignited their gunpowder stores, committing suicide in an attempt to kill as many of the French troops as possible in their shelter of Habitation Danglemon,t to the cry of "Live free or die!".
- on the statue of Mulatto Solitude, another statue by Jacky Poulier, erected in 1999 on Boulevard des Héros. After Bonaparte had enacted the Law of 20 May 1802, reinstating slavery in the French colonies, she was among those who rallied Louis Delgrès and fought by his side for freedom. She survived the battle of 8 May 1802 and was imprisoned by the French. Because she was pregnant, her hanging was postponed to 29 November 1802, one day after giving birth.

Olivier Touzeau , 13 February 2017