View Larger Map
I find that whenever I raise the subject of Martinique and Guadeloupe, the most common response is, "somet'ing happenin' in Martinique and Guadeloupe?" In short, both islands are in a state of paralysis, in the midst of nationwide protests over the cost of living. Gas stations, supermarkets and ports have all remained closed for weeks in Guadeloupe and a little over a week in Martinique, with unrest threatening to spread to other French overseas departments. The latest story appearing on the Google's News aggregator service, a correction, states:
"Today, given the number of gendarmes who have arrived in Guadeloupe armed to the teeth, the French state has chosen its natural path: to kill Gaudeloupeans as usual," Elie Domota told AFP on Saturday.Martinique and Guadeloupe are among Trinidad and Tobago's closest Caribbean neighbours geographically, and it is troubling that we seem so oblivious to the meltdown that's occurring just 400 miles north of Port of Spain.
Domota is the leader of the Collective against Exploitation (LKP), which groups most of Guadeloupe's unions and political parties and which launched the general strike there on Jan/ 20 over low wages and the high cost of living.
His accusation came as some supermarkets and petrol stations, which have been shut for more than three weeks, reopened as police stood by to protect the premises against potential protests by strikers on the tropical island.
"Every time there have been demonstrations in Guadeloupe to demand pay rises, the response of the state has been repression, notably in May 1967 in Pointe-a-Pitre where there were 100 deaths, building workers massacred by the gendarmes," Domota said.
Although the situation in the francophone islands is not quite as bad or alarming and I hope that things get no worse, I am reminded of 100 days in the African continent when the world was blind to the slaughter of 800 thousand to one million Tutsi tribesmen and their sympathisers in Rwanda.
Is there anything that we can do actively? Honestly, I doubt that there is anything because the matter is an internal problem, the overseas territories being actual parts of the French Republic. However, with more eyes on the events there, perhaps President Sarkozy and his Government will take a more active part in ensuring that the core issues are dealt with peacefully and that without a repeat of the bloodshed of 1967.
Doing my part to keep eyes on, I've added a news feed in my sidebar which will display the latest news items polled by Google News .
I'll also tweet and re-tweet any new tidbits that I hear or come across in subsequent days. See and subscribe to my Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/keith_in_tnt