Guadeloupe was waiting for the arrival of police reinforcements on Sunday, after a week of a movement originating in the challenge of the vaccination obligation of caregivers and degenerating into a social crisis punctuated by numerous violence, and while a meeting aimed at appeasement to take place Monday in Paris.
The night from Saturday to Sunday remained agitated in the streets and on the roads of the island, between roadblocks, fires and looting which led to 38 arrests during the night and left two wounded among the security forces.
These incidents took place despite the curfew that runs until Tuesday morning, every night from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.
“Once again, the police and gendarmerie, but also the firefighters who intervened on the fires, were the subject of several shots from firearms,” denounced the prefecture of Guadeloupe in a statement listing the assessment of urban violence that occurred during the night. “The intention to appropriate property by breaking and entering is no longer the sole motivation of these organized gangs which are now looking for chaos,” the statement added.
In several towns on the island, food stores were looted, as well as pharmacies. “Each time, a barricade placed upstream prevented us from moving forward”, according to the gendarmes who also testify to suspicions of “false calls to attract us elsewhere, just like the firefighters”. In the town of Morne-à-l’Eau, a police station was set on fire.
According to the prefecture, four pharmacies were thus fractured.
– “Firmness” promised by the government –
The state’s response is first and foremost that of “firmness”, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Sunday, describing the situation as “intolerable and unacceptable” in Guadeloupe.
“This small minority which blocked by words, by words (vaccination), today it is radicalized and it tries to block them, to intimidate them by violence”, he denounced, evoking “caregivers threatened”, “pharmacies prevented from opening” and “ambulances blocked on roadblocks”.
Since the summer, the vaccination rate has increased in Guadeloupe, with a rate of nearly 90% of caregivers vaccinated, and approaching 50% in the general population.
According to Mr. Attal, the reinforcements of police and gendarmes sent from metropolitan France, in particular 50 members of the GIGN and Raid units, should arrive on Sunday in the island.
The Prime Minister Jean Castex, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sébastien Lecornu and the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, must at the same time receive elected officials from the island on Monday evening in order, Matignon told AFP on Sunday, to allow them ” to present their analysis of the situation on the ground “. The meeting should also allow for “a dialogue on the implications of the immunization requirement for caregivers and firefighters.”
– “The depth of suffering” –
The General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG), at the forefront of the protest shaking the island, called on Saturday “to continue the mobilization and strengthen the pickets of popular demands”, in a statement.
Beyond the challenge to the vaccination obligation for caregivers, the mobilization also reflects “the depth of suffering, inequalities, poverty and exclusion suffered by the population, especially the young and the elderly”, according to the general secretary of the union, Maïté Hubert M’Toumo.
“I understand the anger in Guadeloupe”, reacted in Paris Jordan Bardella, the president of the National Assembly, describing an island population “totally abandoned by the public authorities” and prey to “the dear life”.
On the left, the environmental candidate for the presidential election Yannick Jadot condemned the violence, deeming the sending of reinforcements by the government “normal”.
“In cases like that, what takes precedence is the dialogue, it is to put people around a table and the repression on the contrary only accentuates things”, testified in the morning a resident met by AFP in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre after the looting.
A call for a general strike in Martinique, the neighboring island of the Antilles, was launched for Monday.