By David Vine
Foreign Policy in Focus
Originally published in The Huffington Post
Over a weekend of memorials, I was remembering a friend who died of a broken heart. Her death certificate may not say so, but she did. Aurélie Lisette Talate died last year at 70 of what members of her community call, in their creole language,sagren—profound sorrow.
Madame Talate, as many called her, was a stick-thin, strong-biceped woman. She ate almost nothing, smoked a lot, and spoke with a power that earned her the nickname ti piman—little chili pepper—because the littlest chilies are the hottest and fiercest. Then again, on the rare occasions when she smiled, she smiled like a little girl.
Madame Talate died of sagren because the U.S. and British governments exiledher and the rest of her Chagossian people from their homeland in the Indian Ocean's Chagos Archipelago to create a secretive military base on Chagos' largest island, Diego Garcia.
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