“I lost everything”: riots in Guadeloupe overtake COVID demonstration | Economic news


BY ELODIE SOUPAMA AND SYLVIE CORBET

LE GOSIER, Guadeloupe (AP) – Residents of the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory, expressed dismay on Sunday after protests against COVID-19 restrictions erupted into riots and looting for the third day in a row, prompting the French authorities to send in special police forces.

Protesters’ roadblocks on Sunday made travel across the island nearly impossible. Firefighters reported 48 interventions on Sunday morning night. The island of 400,000 inhabitants has one of the lowest vaccination rates in France with 33%, against 75% nationwide.

In Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest urban area on the island, clashes left three people injured, including an 80-year-old woman who was shot while on her balcony. A firefighter and a policeman were also injured and several shops were looted there and in other towns. A Morne-à-l’Eau police station was set on fire.

The prefect of Guadeloupe Alexandre Rochatte, who imposed a night curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., said Sunday that 38 people had been arrested during the night and denounced the “organized groups now seeking to sow chaos” .

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Emilie Guisbert, a 47-year-old resident of Pointe-à-Pitre, was sleeping at home in the building belonging to her father when she was set on fire Thursday evening. Her friend woke her up and she just had time to get dressed and go out with her dogs, she told The Associated Press.

“I lost everything. Everything. I went out with my cell phone and what I was carrying,” she said, adding that the personal effects of her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were in the room. the House. “It’s 100 years of memory of a Guadeloupe family that went up in smoke in 15 minutes.”

She said she had not yet received help from the authorities. “We are completely on our own. I don’t know who is cleaning (the house). Is it us, the insurance company, the town hall?

The protests were called by unions to denounce France’s COVID-19 health pass, which is needed to access restaurants and cafes, cultural venues, sports arenas and long-distance travel. Demonstrators were also protesting against compulsory vaccinations in France for healthcare workers. In recent days, they have broadened their demands to include a general increase in wages, higher unemployment benefits and the hiring of more teachers.

Gregory Agapé, 30, who also lives in an area of ​​Pointe-à-Pitre where violence has occurred repeatedly, said he could not sleep at night.

“We are always upset by the noises, the detonations, all the commotion around so the nights are very complicated, very short,” he said.

Agapé said he had conflicting thoughts about the COVID-19 protest movement. “I am well aware of the economic, social, cultural difficulties … but it is quite complicated, because I think that (the protests) weaken Guadeloupe society even more.”

Jacques Bertili, 49, from Le Gosier, said: “I am neither against nor for the vaccine. But what annoys me is the looting. Because we have to work.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin denounced the violence as “unacceptable” in an interview on Sunday with Le Parisien newspaper. He said 50 special police force officers arrived in Guadeloupe on Sunday, in addition to the 200 other police officers sent earlier.

Darmanin said after an emergency meeting on Saturday in Paris that “some shots were fired at police officers” in Guadeloupe. He also said the roadblocks created a “very difficult situation for a few hours” during which patients and supplies could not reach hospitals.

Rochatte said some electrical installations near the dams had been damaged, causing power outages, and urged people to stay away from fallen power cables.

Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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