Crisis in Guadeloupe: a conflagration caused by deep economic malaise

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The vaccination obligation for health personnel has set Guadeloupe on fire and blood. This explosion of anger is also the expression of a deep economic malaise among the population.

The causes of this social crisis go back a long way. This is what all the representatives of the West Indian archipelago repeat over and over: whether they are politicians, trade unionists, or even business leaders. There are 17% unemployed in Guadeloupe, twice as many as in the metropolis. More than one in three young people does not have a job. In terms of GDP per capita, the comparison with the Hexagon is just as appalling: it is 17% less for the ultra marine department. A third of Guadeloupeans live below the poverty line, according to the latest INSEE survey based on 2018 data. Another indicator of the region’s underdevelopment: water cuts, a daily reality for all inhabitants. In this context, dismissing a caregiver who refuses the vaccine is to throw him into precariousness.

Economic fragility aggravated by the pandemic?

This is not evident in the official macroeconomic figures. GDP ultimately lost 3% last year and unemployment even fell in 2020, in part thanks to exceptional support measures. But these statistical data do not take into account the impact on the informal sector. The pandemic has deprived of income all those who survived on unreported odd jobs. Which probably blew up inequalities.

In the private sector, companies are now paying the bill for Covid-19: the number of business failures jumped in early 2021, while it was decreasing at the same time in metropolitan France. The pandemic has also cut income from tourism, the second largest private activity after agriculture. The high season is for the third time in a row marred by lockdowns. Cruises have resumed, but they are avoiding Guadeloupe, where the health risk is considered too high.

Disappointed expectations following the riots of 2009

This year, Guadeloupeans observe 44 days of strike to protest against the high cost of living, at the time the prices were much higher than in the metropolis while the incomes were much lower. But twelve years later this great gap continues. The check for 580 million euros signed by President Nicolas Sarkzoy to restore calm has not resolved anything. The problems are still the same. Monday, on RFI, the deputy Victorien Lurel affirmed that 600 million euros were needed to resolve the issue of water, that is to say the same amount proposed by the State 12 years ago to fill all the gaps.

►Also read: The demonstrations continue in Guadeloupe, the government under pressure

An oil stain effect?

There is also a strike notice filed in Polynesia for tomorrow, Wednesday, November 24. These territories do not have quite the same economic history, but they share the same handicap linked to their geographical location: their remoteness from the metropolis increases the cost of living and with the inflation which resumes, the difficulties could very quickly to get worse. To give an idea of ​​the scale of the phenomenon: one in three ultra marine is eligible for the exceptional aid for purchasing power put in place following the increase in the price of energy.

In short :

Also in France, Les Restos du Coeur are launching their winter campaign today by alerting to the worsening of precariousness. According to the NGO specializing in the distribution of food products, the epidemic has plunged the most vulnerable. More than half of its beneficiaries say they have lost income since the start of the health crisis. For the past year, the Restos du cœur have distributed meals to 1.2 million people in France.

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