French minister heads to Caribbean territories to defuse tensions


PARIS (Reuters) – France’s minister for abroad territories will maintain disaster talks on its Caribbean islands from Sunday, an official mentioned, as the federal government appears to be like to defuse tensions after greater than per week of unrest stemming from its dealing with of the COVID-19 pandemic there.

“I do not assume we’ll return to Paris essentially having resolved the entire disaster, but when we take issues little by little and methodically, it can calm issues and open a constructive dialogue with all of the actors,” an official near Minister Sebastian Lecornu informed Reuters earlier than the delegation arrives in Guadeloupe afterward Sunday.

A plan for obligatory vaccination for well being staff stoked a sentiment among the many majority Black inhabitants of Guadeloupe and Martinique of being excluded and marginalized from the mainland, though the identical measure had already been launched on the mainland.

The problem sparked protests and fanned longstanding grievances over residing requirements and the connection with Paris. Protesters have insisted they need to be allowed to make their very own decisions about well being therapy.

On Friday, the federal government postponed the requirement that public sector well being staff on the 2 islands be vaccinated, however native officers have demanded extra dialogue with the central authorities.

In Guadeloupe, the place protests started greater than per week in the past, there’s a historic distrust of the federal government’s dealing with of well being crises after many individuals have been systematically uncovered to poisonous pesticides utilized in banana plantations within the Nineteen Seventies.

Nevertheless, unions in Martinique signed on Saturday an accord with native officers and the state to start talks on key points starting from well being, vitality costs, youth and transport.

Curfews have helped restore some calm in current days after violence that noticed shops looted and police shot at.

Lecornu mentioned on Saturday that the federal government was prepared to debate autonomy for the islands.

“It is not a unclean phrase within the Republic. (French) Polynesia is autonomous right this moment with its personal legal guidelines, so the minister is able to open the controversy,” the official mentioned.

(Reporting by John Irish; Modifying by Frances Kerry)

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