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Gantry 5

 

West Indies: meet popular economic and political demands

N° 20 janvier 2022 After a two-week general strike in Guadeloupe and Martinique, Overseas Minister Sébastien Lecornu visited the site.

 

The Guadeloupe, like Martinique, is facing deep social unrest and daily protests. The demands are multiple: health-related and above all social, higher wages, lower prices for everyday products, real jobs, training, end of prosecution against arrested demonstrators (voir article dans l’Hebdo 744).

For the time being the only answer is repression. This visit was demanded both by the demonstrators and by local politicians. On Friday 26, to ease the tension, the minister posted the following statement online: "Some elected officials have indirectly asked the question of autonomy (...) Guadeloupe could better manage itself (...) the government is ready to talk about it, there are no bad debates as long as these debates serve to solve the real problems of the daily life of Guadeloupe”. Operation diversion on what was at no time a demand of the demonstrators or their representatives? Political maneuver to avoid meeting the demands of the people. Yes too. It is totally out of the question to talk about the high cost of living, poverty, unemployment or the dramatic problem of the drinking water supply, a real scandal in 2021. Thus he passes the buck of the Collective’s demands on the local elected officials. In the context of a possible autonomy, health issues would fall to local power, the vaccine obligation would belong to them but not the slightest bit of sharing sovereign rights. On the same day, Lecornu announced the postponement of the deadline for the vaccination obligation for caregivers to December 31, which sounds like a provocation for those who demand the total and final lifting of this obligation, a position that we do not share. As for youth unemployment, the announcement of 1,000 subsidized jobs sounds the same; Guadeloupeans are asking for real jobs with real wages.

Meetings scheduled with the minister petered out on Monday. One with representatives of the Collective and of parties who had called for a popular rally to support the demands stumbled, officially on the number of delegates. This pretext, added to the massive presence of police around the sub-prefecture already indicated a dismissal that the 24 hour duration planned for the visit had already clearly announced. Finally at the request of the demonstrators, some delegates returned to submit the grievances before leaving immediately. The Minister maintains his refusal of any discussion as long as the Collective has not condemned "unambiguously the violence committed in the West Indies on the police and gendarmes" and passes the buck to the local authorities. Communities whose elected officials, in turn, refused to meet the minister given the "attitude and comments" that he made. Finally, the latter's visit will result in a visit backing the security forces, the announcement of a reinforcement of a battalion of gendarmes mobile (riot police) and members of the GIGN (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) with an extension of the curfew. Repression again and again. If the character of certain violent actions can be questionable, they are also the reflection and the consequence of the pervasive colonial violence: on the one hand a people who for three centuries have known the violence of capitalism in all its aspects: slavery, exploitation, arrogant contempt from the békés (colonists) and the mainland, on the other hand the revolt of those without rights who struggle for their survival every day.

Our party has expressed its views on several occasions on the neo-colonial nature of French domination over the overseas departments and territories. It renews its support for the mass struggles of the peoples concerned for social rights, freedom and justice.