The gendarmerie helicopter flies over the Perrin roundabout, in the town of Abymes, north of the Guadeloupe agglomeration of Pointe-à-Pitre. It is barely 7 a.m., Sunday, November 21, and the few passing motorists come up against the charred carcasses of cars and concrete blocks blocking the accesses, over more than two kilometers, to the national road crossing Grande-Terre. from North to south.
On the ground, the used tear gas grenades bear witness to the tense face to face between the gendarmes and the demonstrators who intermittently occupy the crossroads. On the roads leading to Morne-à-l’eau, Saint-Anne or Capesterre-Belle-Eau, other dams have been erected since November 15, date of the general strike launched by the collective of organizations fighting against the vaccination obligation and the health pass. In Guadeloupe, the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 struck the muffled anger of many inhabitants, whose feeling of being despised and misunderstood by the authorities ended up exceeding the fear of contamination.
A decision taken “from Paris and without consultation”
“We must stop taking us for fools”, breathes Jocelyn Zou, secretary of the Force Ouvrière union in the departmental fire and rescue service. The firefighter, who has been on strike for several weeks but requisitioned every night to put out the fires on the dams, settled down with about twenty people under two barnums around the roundabout, in the middle of the afternoon. “We are not anti-tax but anti-health pass: how can we accept that hundreds of people are suspended from their work, without pay or compensation, for a decision that is intimate? “, he chants while denouncing a decision taken “From Paris and without consultation”.
The announcement of the arrest of a striking firefighter, injured on the first day of the walkout, raised tension on the island to a level unprecedented since the forty-four days of blockades caused, in early 2009, by the demonstrations against dear life. Twelve years later, the mobilization concerned a less important part of the inhabitants but its echo was multiplied by numerous incidents: in addition to the burnt cars and disrupted traffic, the fire destroyed several buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre, bank branches and shops have been burgled in the middle of the night in several towns.
Every morning, videos of chases between young Guadeloupeans and the police circulate on social networks. Twenty-nine arrests took place during the night from Friday to Saturday after the announcement, by the prefecture, of a curfew instituted until November 23, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. “In the face of urban violence”. Just five days after the end of the curfew imposed as part of the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. Thirty-eight people were arrested the following night. “The police and gendarmerie, but also the firefighters who intervened on the fires, were the subject of several shots from firearms”, the prefecture said in a statement on Sunday – a firefighter and an elderly lady were injured by lead shots.
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