Corsican Nationalist Group Trades Guns for Politics

LONDON – After the National Front for Corsican Independence (FNLC) was founded in 1976, it became known as a violent nationalist group prone to detonating bombs targeting French immigrants in Corsica and other sites on the French mainland. Their goal was French recognition of Corsican political independence and their group photos featured Corsican flags, black ski masks, and guns. The glory days occurred in the brief period during the 18th century when Corsica maintained pseudo-independence from Genoa, until France purchased it from Genoa and incorporated it in 1770.

However, this past June, the group officially changed its tone. In a 14-page manifesto released to a Corsican monthly, the grup announced its intention to “initiate a process of demilitarization and a gradual exit from clandestinity.”

This came after a recent vote by the Corsican Assembly, requiring five-year residency for landholders on the island (about 40% of Corsican residences are second homes to foreigners). According to the FNLC, this vote implies an “opportunity to make a historic step in the fight for national liberation,” meaning transitioning into politics and away from terrorism. As they stated, “we are passing from a phase of combat and resistance to a phase of construction of a veritable political Corsican power.”

This manifesto certainly did not betray a weakening of initiative though. It also asked for the identification and isolation of “enemies of the people of Corsica and its liberty” and called upon the French state and its representatives to help “recover the freedom of Corsica” and work “democratically towards the construction of peace.”

Though the FNLC no longer seems interested in bombs and bloodshed, it is not shying away from a political fight.

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