Friday, February 20, 2009

Trouble In Paradise

From the Associated Press:

Strikes that have nearly frozen everyday life on Frances's caribbean islands burst into clashes last Monday as police battled protesters angry at high prices and resentful of the tiny white elite on lands better known for beachside vacations.

Police detained about 50 people on the island of Guadeloupe. Strikers were sprayed with tear gas and several were injured.

On the sister island of Martinique police said as many as 10,000 demonstrators marched through the narrow streets of the capital to protest spiraling food prices and denounce the islands business elite.

Government offices, schools, banks and stores have been shuttered for most of the past 18 days as islanders demand lower prices and higher wages.

The strike is also exposing racial and class tensions on islands where costs of living are high and where a largely white elite that makes up 1 percent of the population controls most businesses.

France's National Travel Agencies organization has reported that some 10,000 tourists have cancelled planned vacations in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Update March 14: Madeleine de Grandmaison, chairwoman of the Martinique Tourism Authority, issued a statement on Friday celebrating the resolution of a general strike in effect on the island over the past few weeks: “It gives me great pleasure to confirm the official end to the general strike in Martinique."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is terrible to hear the news of strife in Guadeloupe and Martinique, but not too surprising. I found these beautiful islands to be deceptivly placid with an under current of racism, colorism and economic tension. The people there are French citizens but are still existing under a cloud of colonialism. Everything good is owned or controlled by the French. The best land, the best jobs, the best schools, etc. Even many of the police and government jobs are filled by Frenchmen flown in from Paris, ignoring the native born (mostly Black) population for recruits. Many of the Blacks with positions of influence are mixed with white French or are married to them. It only makes sense that people would rise up against this obvious injustice. More power to them!