Guadeloupe: three questions on the mobilization against the health pass and the vaccination obligation

President Emmanuel Macron recognized, Monday, November 22, a « situation […] very explosive ” in Guadeloupe, calling for calm on the seventh day of a general strike against the health pass and the vaccination obligation. On Monday, roads were still blocked with the carcasses of burned cars, while reinforcements of police and gendarmes sent by the government – including 50 members of GIGN and RAID units – arrived on the spot on Saturday evening.

At least sixty-seven people were arrested after the recent urban violence on the island, and thirty of them were to be tried on Monday in immediate appearance in Pointe-à-Pitre.

  • What is currently happening in Guadeloupe?

The island of Guadeloupe is the scene of a large social protest initiated a week ago by the call for a general strike by a collective of trade union and citizen organizations to protest against the health pass, in force. in France until July 31, and the vaccination obligation, in particular for caregivers.

After the first demonstrations that mobilized up to several thousand Guadeloupeans this summer, roadblocks were erected across many roads and access to hospitals was filtered, causing great difficulties. In front of the Pointe-à-Pitre University Hospital Center (CHU), the only vehicles allowed to enter on Friday were ambulances. For their part, the dialysis centers warned that the roadblocks could prevent access to care for nearly 800 patients, for whom this constituted “A danger of death” .

At night, the mobilization degenerated, on several occasions, into urban violence, pushing the prefecture of Guadeloupe to impose a curfew on the island until Tuesday, between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. The first hours under restrictions – while the state of health emergency, accompanied by a curfew, to fight the Covid-19 epidemic had been lifted on November 14 – were still punctuated by acts violent.

In the town of Abymes in Guadeloupe, striking (and requisitioned) firefighters, including FO unionists, occupied the Perrin roundabout on the Pointe-à-Pitre - Morne-à-l'Eau axis, on November 21 2021.
Read the report: Article reserved for our subscribers After seven days of strike in Guadeloupe, anger over the health pass does not abate

In several towns on the island, food stores have been looted. “Each time, a barricade placed upstream prevented us from moving forward”, say the gendarmes who also report suspicions about “Fake calls for [les] attract elsewhere, just like firefighters ”. A police station was also set on fire in the town of Morne-à-l’Eau, and, according to the prefecture, four pharmacies were fractured.

  • What are the reasons for this mobilization?

Charred vehicles block access to the Perrin roundabout in Guadeloupe on November 21, 2021.

The general strike therefore intends to fight against the health pass and the vaccination obligation. Guadeloupe has a much lower vaccination rate against Covid-19 compared to the metropolis. As of November 16, Public Health France had barely more than 40% of those over twelve who had received at least one dose of vaccine., and about 38% of them had a complete vaccination schedule. By way of comparison, nearly 77% of people in metropolitan France have received at least one dose, and 75% are fully vaccinated.

Among the caregivers of the island – for whom vaccination has been compulsory since November 16 – the vaccination rate against Covid-19 is 85%, but pockets of resistance remain, and there were, on Monday, 566 suspensions at the Pointe-à-Pitre University Hospital for lack of vaccination.

There are several explanations for this lack of adherence to the French vaccine policy, the brakes being on the whole quite similar to those observed in metropolitan France, but accentuated by local issues, according to Stéphanie Mulot, associate professor of sociology at the Caribbean Laboratory. of social sciences. One of these specificities is the growing distrust of the authority of the State after the scandal of chlordecone, this harmful pesticide widely used in the West Indies until the 1990s, yet banned in metropolitan France. “These scandals [dont celui du chlordécone] have created a strong awareness among the West Indians that the State has not played its role of protector ”, thus explained Mme Mulot au World.

Read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers “In the West Indies, there is the will to take care of oneself and not by following policies imposed from the outside”

The colonial and slavery past between the West Indies and France also contributes to reinforce the feeling of arbitrary decisions, taken by Paris without consultation. Finally, the importance of the local pharmacopoeia is another explanation for Guadeloupe’s mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine. “There is a desire in the West Indies for therapeutic sovereignty, to take care of oneself and not by following policies imposed from the outside. A Guadeloupean told me that if a vaccine was produced by a West Indian laboratory, people would be vaccinated ”, continues the professor of sociology.

  • Is the movement limited to opposition to the health pass and vaccination against Covid-19?

The vaccination obligation and the health pass appear as triggers of anger in Guadeloupe, this mobilization being more the symptom of an older social and economic malaise. “The young people who are in the streets are not concerned by the vaccination obligation. It is a valve which has been under pressure for years and which has exploded ”, thus confided a resident of Abymes, a municipality of Grande-Terre, to our journalists on the spot.

The mobilization thus translates “The depth of suffering, inequalities, poverty and exclusion suffered by the population, especially the young and the elderly”, also insisted the secretary general of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG), Maïté Hubert M’Toumo.

The explanations : Article reserved for our subscribers Guadeloupe flares up against a backdrop of health crisis

The organizations behind the mobilization sent the authorities, on September 2, a document containing thirty-two demands, including “The general increase in wages”, “The elimination of all precarious jobs and massive hiring”, “The end of judicial and employer repression” and, therefore, the repeal of the law of August 5, 2021 governing the extension of the health pass as well as compulsory vaccination for certain professions.

The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, accompanied by the Minister of Overseas Affairs, Sébastien Lecornu, and the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, will receive, on Monday evening, elected officials of the island, in order to allow them to“Present their analysis of the situation on the spot”. The meeting must also allow “A dialogue on the consequences of compulsory vaccination for caregivers and firefighters. “

While a social movement on the neighboring island of Martinique has already made it possible to obtain the postponement of the entry into force of the vaccination obligation for caregivers until December 31, a call for a general strike has been launched. for Monday.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In a permanent state of crisis, the CHU of Guadeloupe is fighting to avoid “disaster medicine”

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Guadeloupe: three questions on the mobilization against the health pass and the vaccination obligation