France faces revolt over poverty on its Caribbean islands

by Miclaud February. 17, 2009 4522 views

France faces revolt over poverty on its Caribbean islands

* Extracted from “The Guardian”, February 2009 (Angelique Chrisafis)

France is struggling to quell revolts on its Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, amid fears that strikes and street protests could spread to other French overseas departments.

Guadeloupe has been paralysed by four weeks of general strikes over low wages and the high cost of living. Tens of thousands have joined demonstrations led by the Collective against Extreme Exploitation (LKP), an umbrella group of unions and associations demanding aid for poor workers struggling to survive on an island famous for its tourist luxury.

Petrol stations and the port have been closed and barricaded, supermarkets, schools, banks and government offices have shut and the strikes have caused power cuts, limited water supplies and left the island's half-a-million residents facing food shortages.

At the peak of the island's tourist season - a driving force of the local economy - hotels have closed and charter flights have been cancelled. About 15,000 French tourists have cancelled their holiday plans and Club Méditerranée has shut its main hotel. The nearby island of Martinique has joined forces and staged a week of protests, with demonstrators storming supermarkets and forcing them to close.

Both islands form part of France. Run from Paris, their citizens are French and the currency is the euro. But the protestors say Paris has ignored their plight in the global financial crisis, and families are struggling to survive on an expensive island where poverty and unemployment levels are double those on the French mainland.

France's minister for overseas territories, Yves Jégo, arrived in the Caribbean yesterday to launch a second round of emergency talks with mediators. His swift departure after his first crisis visit last week caused outrage on the island.

Meanwhile, unions in France's other two “Overseas Departments”, French Guiana and the Indian ocean island of La Réunion, threatened to launch their own protest movements, saying they suffered the same misery and low wages.

Before negotiations began, Elie Domota, the leader of the LKP on Guadeloupe, said the group would “harden” its position and strikes would continue. Domota said that by refusing to increase basic salaries, the French prime minister, François Fillon, was bowing to the interests of business leaders who “did not want to spend a cent”.

Jégo said France would give some €180m (£161m) in aid to ensure lower fuel costs and food prices and help poor families. But the prime minister refused to meet demands for a monthly €200 increase in base salaries.

George Pau-Langevin, a Paris socialist MP born in Guadeloupe, said islanders were not just protesting at low wages, but at “the indecent profits of big fuel and import-export companies”.

Patrick Lozès, the head of Cran, France's umbrella group of black associations, said race and discrimination was a key factor in the revolt. “Is it normal that, 160 years after the abolition of slavery, the descendants of colonists possess 90% of Guadeloupe's riches, but represent only 1% of the population?” he asked on his blog.

In Paris, opposition politicians criticised President Nicolas Sarkozy for his lack of involvement in resolving the crisis. Sarkozy, facing strikes and demonstrations by teachers and university staff across France, has seen his poll ratings plummet this week amid public fears about the impact of the global financial crisis, and unions have scheduled another national strike for 19 March.

The political representatives support the strike.

“Where we find unfortunates, there are exploiters.
Where there is a poverty, there are ”békés“ thieves
The Negro is tired to suffer
Together, it's time to fight hard
Let us get up to be stronger!”

The youth

A strong mobilization: 20 000 persons of all generations

The distribution of fuel is controlled

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Noa 8 years, 8 months ago


8 years, 8 months ago Edited
Jon 8 years, 8 months ago

great photo journalism ... the world recession is hurting everyone everwhere

8 years, 8 months ago Edited
Sk Tan 8 years, 8 months ago

Nice reportage on the current situation!!

8 years, 8 months ago Edited
Emme Tan 8 years, 9 months ago

hmmm hope things are better now...

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jendayee 8 years, 9 months ago

sé rouj pou la viktwa !

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jacquesr 8 years, 9 months ago

Excellent reportage, avec des messages forts.
J'aime beaucoup les messages de la jeunesse.
Bravo Miclaud.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Neus 8 years, 9 months ago

Miclaud, aquí no nos llega notícia alguna sobre los acontecimientos de las islas caribeñas, así que gracias por tenernos informados, aunque como Sista, me es muy difícil comprender el texto en inglés.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Peregol 8 years, 9 months ago

Great post!!!!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jorge Cardoso 8 years, 9 months ago



8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Primavera Delima 8 years, 9 months ago

Great post here!!!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Christine 8 years, 9 months ago

C'est quelque chose que j'ai de la peine à comprendre, comment celà se fait-il que le tourisme n'apporte pas plus de bien être à la population ? Où vont les bénéfices ? Et que font les gouvernements pour améliorer la situation ?

En pensées avec vous

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jarvo Laysell 8 years, 9 months ago

Bonne chance à la population. Je vais à la France de demain. Je vais vous faire savoir s'il existe une action de soutien en Boulougne. Je parie qu'il ne l'est pas.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Nadoune 8 years, 9 months ago

Beau reportage Miclaud!!!
Chez moi ça a dégénéré et c'est vraiment triste!!!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Leocheung 8 years, 9 months ago

Wish this crisis will soon be over.

Great reportage.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Ricardo 8 years, 9 months ago

what a big manifestation!
awesome :)

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Sylrun 8 years, 9 months ago

merci pour le reportage, en anglais an pa compren ayen mais j'ai compris l'affiche en Kréol sur la 1è!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
David Cardona 8 years, 9 months ago


8 years, 9 months ago Edited
David Swatton 8 years, 9 months ago

Excellent post - this is a crisis that seems to go virtually unreported. Brava.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Betty 8 years, 9 months ago

Wow...excellent reporting. I had no idea those conditions existed. Thanks for the lesson.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Lennon Fletcher 8 years, 9 months ago

Great piece of reportage. Thanx for sharing.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Péter Somogyvári 8 years, 9 months ago

Powerful reportage!!Well done!!
[i](interesting for me "[b]békés[/b]" = "paceful" in Hungarian language)[/i]

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Alexandra Pechabaden 8 years, 9 months ago

J'ai ete navree de voir cela aux infos. Mais merci d'en parler ici. Je ne sais quoi dire.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jennye 8 years, 9 months ago

great report and photos miclaud!!!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jet28 8 years, 9 months ago

It's terrible to see - great reporting though :-)

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Tomie Poodle 8 years, 9 months ago

cela s' serait temps que le gouvernement vous écoute!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Mintra 8 years, 9 months ago

Very educational, thanks for the pics and the info.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Aydin 8 years, 9 months ago

excellent shots !

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Domã©Lia 8 years, 9 months ago

beau reportage qui reflète bien la réalité.. pour le texte, bravo (enfin je suppose car comme christelle, je te fais confiance...)

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Marsha 8 years, 9 months ago

This is the first I've heard about this. Thanks for sharing.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Christelle 8 years, 9 months ago

Super reportage Miclaud !!! euh j'ai pas tout lu les commentaires in english,c'est un peu forçant pour moi mais je suppose que ce sont des infos que les 972 ont déjà...

8 years, 9 months ago Edited