PARIS (AP) – Protesters angry at virus and vaccine rules have occupied the Regional Legislative Assembly of Guadeloupe due to the deadlock in negotiations over their grievances over the management of the French Caribbean island.
Area council chairman Ary Chalus has agreed to a meeting with some of the protesters’ representatives, the council tweeted after Thursday’s incursion. Guadeloupe and Parisian officials denounced the protest action as unacceptable and a threat to the democratically elected body.
Inside the council building, protesters hung a banner reading “No to compulsory vaccination, no to health pass,” according to images uploaded by local officials. A Christmas tree was shown overturned.
Unions and the Collective Against Exploitation want the French government to drop a measure ordering the unpaid suspension of health workers unless they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Guadeloupe protesters are also calling for better access to drinking water, increases in pensions and salaries, and mass employment.
Vaccinations are compulsory for all French health workers and a âhealth passâ is required to enter all restaurants and many places in France. The measures met the strongest opposition in Guadeloupe and Martinique, reflecting long-standing frustrations over inequalities with mainland France.
Guadeloupe, a French overseas department, uses the euro. A third of the island’s population lives below the poverty line and the cost of living is higher than in mainland France. Water supply has been a major problem in recent years due to obsolete pipelines.
Anger over France’s handling of a toxic pesticide in Caribbean banana fields has fueled mistrust of government COVID-19 vaccine policies, as well as misinformation shared on WhatsApp groups or Telegram.
Viral infections are on the rise again in Guadeloupe, and the prefecture on Thursday extended restrictions until January 6 requiring masks outside in public places as well as indoors, and a health pass for activities. tourist attractions such as diving trips.