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Paul Vergès, the strongman founder and leader of the Réunion island’s Communist Party, the doyen of the French senate and an anti-colonial firebrand who was a significant figure of the international communist movement, has died at the age of 91. Less known on mainland France than his late brother, the controversial lawyer and provocateur Jacques, Paul Vergès became regarded as an untouchable political figurehead on the French Indian Ocean island where he had successively occupied almost every political mandate during a 70-year career. Julien Sartre sketches the sometimes dark story of what historian Frédérick Genevée called “a monument of complexity” who was driven by anti-colonialism rather than social struggle.
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