Friday, January 28

Crisis in the West Indies: in Martinique, union call to lift the roadblocks after the violence and shootings

Martinique, in the French Antilles, experienced its second night of violence, that from Tuesday to Wednesday, despite a call for the lifting of dams to avoid a runaway as in Guadeloupe, the neighboring island.

Nine members of the security forces were injured, according to police and gendarmerie sources.

Guadeloupe and, since Monday, Martinique, two French Caribbean islands, have been shaken by a challenge to the anti-Covid vaccine compulsory for caregivers and firefighters, mingled with social demands, linked to the cost of living and the rise in fuel prices.

They have experienced in recent days an eruption of violence, going as far as gunfire against firefighters and police in Fort-de-France (Martinique) in the night from Monday to Tuesday, who did not made of injured.

“Taking into account what (she) had observed throughout the day” of Tuesday, the inter-union at the origin of the general strike in Martinique had called overnight for the lifting of the dams.

The aim of this call was to restore calm to the island where, since Monday morning, traffic was severely disrupted by these blockages on the main roads.

Clashes nevertheless broke out in a district of Fort-de-France, Sainte Thérèse, where the nine police officers and gendarmes were injured. This area had already been the scene the previous night of gunfire targeting the security forces.

In Guadeloupe, where the strike was launched on November 15, the prefecture decided on Tuesday, after a fifth night of violence, to extend the curfew until November 28.

– “An island hostage” –

On Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal denounced a “recalcitrant minority” and “violent” in Guadeloupe which is taking “an entire island hostage”.

“Public health cannot be exploited for political ends,” said Attal.

He estimated that the government for its part had “created the conditions for dialogue” by announcing Monday the creation of a “forum for dialogue” to “convince and support” the professionals concerned by the vaccine obligation.

“Compulsory vaccination for nursing staff (…) is not negotiable, the health pass is not negotiable either”, launched the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, while the French government must announce Thursday a strengthening of health measures.

– Unemployment, poverty and mistrust –

“I am perfectly aware of the economic difficulties, but we will not treat them with violence,” assured Mr. Le Maire, and “the solution (…) is not in the pouring out of hundreds of millions of euros public aid “.

Because the movement is also the reflection of a deeper economic and social crisis.

In Martinique, the unemployment rate at 12.4% is lower than in the rest of the Overseas Territories but the poverty rate is close to 30%, according to 2018 data from the National Institute of Statistics (Insee ), which is almost twice as many as at the national level.

In Guadeloupe, 34.5% of the population lives below the national poverty line and the unemployment rate reaches 19%, according to the same source.

The opposition to vaccines also reflects, according to sociologists, the distrust of the population towards the authorities since the “chlordecone scandal”.

Considered as an endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen, this pesticide, banned in France in 1990, remained authorized in the banana fields of Martinique and Guadeloupe by ministerial exemption until 1993, causing significant and lasting pollution.

In Guadeloupe, where the Covid-19 epidemic hit hard during the summer, the rate of people over 18 who received at least one injection reached only 36.43% in mid-November, according to the agency. regional health.

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