Monday, January 24

Eugénie Bastié’s editorial: “West Indies, a health or identity revolt?”

In her editorial on Wednesday, November 24, Eugénie Bastié, journalist at Le Figaro, looks back on the situation in Guadeloupe and Martinique, against a background of health and social crisis.

Hospitals blocked by filter barriers of anti-tax caregivers, wounded police officers, stolen weapons of war, live ammunition on the police: yes the situation is very serious, and seems to have completely escaped the government, since the minister of ‘Overseas Sébastien Lecornu, at the head of the Association to support the re-election of Emmanuel Macron announced only yesterday and without giving a precise date, that he would go there.

If the state seems outdated, is it responsible for this chaotic situation? Is it really the arrogant attitude of the metropolis which is the cause of these riots, which would resemble those of the yellow vests as we sometimes hear? On the contrary, it seems that the government has been more lenient for the overseas territories since the expiry of the obligation to vaccinate caregivers, scheduled for mid-September in the metropolis, had been postponed there.

The caregivers have even obtained an exemption: that of being able to be vaccinated with vaccines without messenger RNA, however less effective, and unvaccinated firefighters the right to a free PCR test every 72 hours. While these territories often complain of having differentiated treatment from that of the metropolis, this is what they are demanding in terms of vaccines, with success.

Everyone has in mind the precedent of the great strikes of 2009 which had for object the high cost of living in Guadeloupe, and some project the revolt of the yellow vests in the Antilles. Admittedly, Guadeloupe combines economic misery and health deprivation. Certainly the precedent of chlordecone, a pesticide used for years on the island with very serious health consequences, casts paranoid suspicion of what comes from the metropolis.

But is it only that which explains the extraordinary distrust of the inhabitants of the Antilles towards the vaccine? the adult vaccination rate is nearly 90% in the metropolis against only 46% in Guadeloupe, 40% in Martinique and 28% in Guyana. The example of Christiane Taubira, who refused to encourage Guyanese to be vaccinated, which shows how local officials are held by the opinions of their administrators. There is a postcolonial and identity dimension in this revolt, for which the vaccine is only a pretext.

«It seems that with us, not to be vaccinated is also a fact of patriotism, analyzed for example the director general of the CHU in the Figaro. We affirm our Guadeloupe by refusing the vaccine“. The former Socialist Minister of Overseas, Victorin Lurel, declared on Franceinfo to see among the demonstrators “an anti-colonialist, anti-France, anti-authority, anti-system struggle and no one dares to say it“. That is not here “vertical chairWhich is at stake, as Valérie Pécresse said during the LR debate, but the authority of the State. Faced with the radicalized and violent young minority which agitates Guadeloupe, the response simply economic (like the 600 million spilled in 2009), security or health will not suffice.

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