By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, Fort-de-France, Martinique, Tues. Nov. 30, 2021: Empty grocery shelves at supermarkets in Martinique is now part of the new reality as a general strike and protests sparked by mandated French COVID-19 vaccine measures drag on.
Shortages of food on the island is now fast adding to the tense situation that has included not just protests, but looting and shooting at police officers and journalists.
The protests stems from the French governments plans to make vaccination for health workers compulsory, which have fanned long-running grievances over living standards and the relationship with Paris.
Overseas Territories Minister Sebastian Lecornu, who Paris dispatched to defuse the crisis at the weekend, said 70 gendarmes in addition to two squadrons that were deployed from metropolitan France unannounced, arrived to help clear roadblocks on Tuesday and restore order.
“Social dialogue is not possible without a sound basis and that sound basis is the re-establishment of freedoms … and our capacity to re-establish order,” Lecornu told a press conference in Martinique after meeting its leaders and trade unions.
Guadeloupe remains under a curfew as the French government sent in police reinforcements, including an elite SWAT team to the island.
The local prefecture said that a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. would be extended until Dec. 2. as unrest spills into the third week.
In Guadeloupe and Martinique, there is a historic mistrust of the government’s handling of health crises after many people were systematically exposed to toxic pesticides used in banana plantations in the 1970s.
Protesters have insisted they should be allowed to make their own choices about health treatment.