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Sébastien Lecornu is in Martinique, after an fruitless dialogue in Guadeloupe

Sébastien Lecornu’s short marathon in an attempt to ease tensions in the West Indies continues before his return to Paris on Wednesday. After 24 hours spent in Guadeloupe, the Minister of Overseas Territories landed in Martinique on Monday evening. This visit aims to get out of the social crisis crossed by the two islands of the French Antilles, 120 km away and marked by a high rate of unemployment, in particular among young people.

But things started badly. Monday in Guadeloupe, where he had arrived the day before, discussions with the inter-union and local elected officials came to an end. The minister judged that no discussion was possible as long as the unions “do not want to condemn assassination attempts against police officers and gendarmes”, a “preliminary however obvious and indispensable”. His meeting with four union representatives from the UGTG and FO was therefore reduced to a simple handing over of “documents of demand”.

“We water 9 millimeters in the streets”

Calling for an “awareness” of the violence, Sébastien Lecornu announced at a press briefing the sending of a squadron of 70 mobile gendarmes and 10 additional GIGN members to “hold”. “When you shoot and water at 9 millimeters in the streets,” it is “a miracle that a 9- or 10-year-old” did not “find himself under these bullets,” he insisted. “Everything will be done to clear the dams” which still impede traffic in places on the island “and reinforcements are part of it” continued Sébastien Lecornu.

Monday, the Collective of socio-professionals, which brings together several very different trades (carriers, taxis, construction, tourism), threatened “action” within 24 hours if he was not invited to negotiations . The collective had barred Guadeloupe for three days in February.

Union officials criticized

Born out of the denial of the vaccination requirement for caregivers and firefighters, the movement has expanded into political and social demands, including against expensive living, and has led to violence, looting and arson, as in Martinique. Both islands are placed under curfew. Sébastien Lecornu also sharply criticized union leaders who “began to want to seek amnesties” for the perpetrators of violence.

Side unions, the delegation believes that Sébastien Lecornu “did not come to negotiate, but because he was forced by the balance of power that we have installed”. Maïté Hubert-M’Toumo, of the UGTG, recalls their “priority” demands such as “the end of the suspensions of non-vaccinated personnel and liberal professions”, the “suspension of convictions of people for violence”, and a ” emergency plan for the qualification of young people and the working conditions of Guadeloupe families ”.

“Everyone must be in their place in this territory”

While many areas are managed by local authorities (water distribution, roads, transport, environment, vocational training), Sébastien Lecornu has also made local elected officials face up to their responsibilities. “I want to be yelled at for things that the State did not do before we were even in power (….) What is complicated is to be yelled at for things that the State does not. is not responsible, ”he said.

“Everyone must be in their place in this territory” added the minister, who said on Friday that the government was “ready” to “talk” about more autonomy for Guadeloupe.

A more peaceful situation in Martinique

Earlier, Guadeloupe local elected officials had decided not to attend a meeting scheduled with the minister, who nevertheless participated in a videoconference with 16 mayors of the island. “(…) We do not see this state of mind to appease the situation and ensure that the conditions are met” to get out of the crisis, said Guy Losbar, ex-president of the department whose election was canceled, to justify the refusal of local elected officials.

Sébastien Lecornu will also meet in Martinique local elected officials and the inter-union, who have signed an “method agreement” with the State to try to get out of the crisis. Seven themes (health, youth, cost of living including fuel and gas prices, transport, chlordeconomics, fishing, culture) must be discussed.

“The situation is in no way comparable between Guadeloupe and Martinique since in Martinique, (the) Republican preconditions” for the negotiations “were filled by elected officials and the inter-union” said Sébastien Lecornu.

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