Guadeloupe flares up against a backdrop of health crisis

Is Guadeloupe on the verge of experiencing a new social conflict of great magnitude like the one which, twelve years ago, had paralyzed the department for forty-four days? The precedent of 2009 is in everyone’s mind, as the atmosphere remains tense in the archipelago, at the end of a week of indefinite general strike declared, Monday, November 15, by a collective of trade unions which rejects the vaccination obligation for caregivers.

After four days of demonstrations and blockades of road axes, scenes of urban violence, which occurred during the night of Thursday to Friday, pushed the government to announce the sending of 200 additional police and gendarmes to Guadeloupe in the coming days. Rioters looted jewelry stores in Pointe-à-Pitre and set fire to six downtown buildings; four of them were completely destroyed by the flames. Life slowed down in the department on Friday, with many schools remaining closed, as were post offices and courts.

Read also the archive (2009): “The police are overwhelmed”

New curfew

In reaction to this outbreak of violence, the prefecture of Guadeloupe set up a curfew on Friday evening, between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. It must be maintained until Tuesday morning. A shame, just five days after the lifting of the state of health emergency – accompanied by a curfew – which had been introduced on July 28 to stem the fourth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. The prefect, Alexandre Rochatte, “Must nevertheless take all the measures imposed by the situation of organized destruction and endangerment of Guadeloupeans that no claim can excuse”, specifies the prefecture.

The inter-union Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon (Collective against exploitation, LKP), which had already distinguished itself during the conflict of 2009, is at the origin of the walkouts. The collective demands “The withdrawal of compulsory vaccination and the health pass, or at least a dispensation, as they did for chlordecone, for that matter”, persifle Jean-Marie Nomertin, secretary general of the General Confederation of Labor of Guadeloupe (CGTG) and member of the LKP. Guadeloupe caregivers and firefighters had certainly benefited from a reprieve to comply with the vaccination obligation during the three months of state of emergency, but this grace period is now over.

Read also Fourth day of mobilization in Guadeloupe against the health pass and the vaccination obligation

Guadeloupe has paid a very heavy price for the epidemic. In this archipelago of 390,000 inhabitants, mortality jumped 65% between 1is June and November 8, 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, according to INSEE. Despite this massacre, the population remains cautious about the vaccine: as of November 16, only 46.4% of Guadeloupeans aged 18 and over had received at least one injection. The situation is quite different for caregivers. According to the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Guadeloupe, the rate of protection reached 85% on November 17 among private caregivers as among agents of the University Hospital of Guadeloupe (CHUG). Other establishments are doing better: 95% of staff at the Basse-Terre hospital center are vaccinated, and even 99% in Marie-Galante.

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Guadeloupe flares up against a backdrop of health crisis