French hurricane rescues raise anger, racial questions

Some black and mixed-race residents of the hurricane-devastated French territory of St. Martin have expressed anger at a perception that white tourists were given priority during the evacuation of the island that France acquired during colonial times.

The anger over perceived discrimination — whether or not based on fact — is exposing underlying racial tensions that have long plagued France's far-flung former colonies, especially its Caribbean islands.

St. Martin resident Johana Soudiagom told local television Guadeloupe 1ere that mainly white people were selected for evacuation on Friday following Hurricane Irma above mixed-race islanders on a boat from the French island of La Desirade.

On Monday, France's Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) wrote to the French government asking for a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the Irma catastrophe.