West Indies: “We’ve had enough!” the Martinicans rise up

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AFP, published on Wednesday November 24, 2021 at 11:24 pm

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Car wrecks and debris on the ground still testify to the violence that set the Sainte-Thérèse district ablaze in the night in Martinique, where the inhabitants can no longer take it. Further on, trade unionists show their firmness by “blocking” the country “.

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Evelyne, a specialized educator, has “had enough”. Installed since 4:00 am Wednesday morning at the roundabout barrage of the Dillon stadium, she does not take off. “It’s been two months since the movement started, then we changed our method: we are blocking the country”.

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She is present with about twenty supporters – most of whom wear the union red T-shirt – on this very strategic roundabout because it leads to the island’s commercial port. A dozen trucks stand in an impassable rampart. Some motorists try to plead their cause to override the roadblock.

A young man on a scooter is exasperated. He gets off his two-wheeler to move a pallet on the ground preventing him from continuing on his way. The tension escalates, but the young man ends up making his way, leaving the protesters unhappy.

Evelyne, who prefers not to give her name like almost all Martiniquais questioned, regrets the attitude of the motorcyclist but remains confident about the protest movement to which she adheres.

“It’s enough that 8,000 kilometers from here we decide what to do at home. We have the right to say no, we have had enough! We have been confined since 2020, and since all this time, there is a curfew at home. And then whoever wants to get poked! “, launches the educator, on strike for the third day.

– Vandalism –

Monday, the intersyndicale launched a general strike movement in Martinique in particular to protest against the vaccine obligation. Tuesday evening, she decided to raise the roadblocks to avoid a runaway violence. But Wednesday morning, the blocking points multiplied.

The lifting of the dams, “it was only for last night (Tuesday)”, explains Evelyne.

Violence did indeed take place during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. Cars set on fire, shops looted, very violent clashes with the police. Seven police officers and five gendarmes were slightly injured, according to the prefecture.

On Maurice Bishop Boulevard, transformed into a battlefield, numerous tear gas tanks and dozens of flashball bullets litter the ground. Barricades are still smoking and employees are removing car wrecks, under the watchful eye of a female entrepreneur, who has come to make sure her office has not been vandalized.

She does not wish to testify. “I have been threatened, we the bosses, we are frowned upon.”

This woman had no damage to deplore while a few hundred meters away, a gas station was vandalized.

“They took cigarettes and alcohol. We expected that. They fought hard on the window, it was done in the early morning, there were many of them,” said the gas station agent. Mickael, a certain fatalism in his voice.

– “Science-fiction” –

“They” are “young delinquents” for Hugues, a retiree who lives a stone’s throw away.

“We are in the process of mixing everything up, a trade union movement which seems well organized, and behind delinquency which takes advantage of these movements to sow this panic. It risks degenerating in relation to this delinquency situation”, underlines this former funeral director, who expects violence to escalate.

“I passed this morning, it’s really Baghdad, with cars burned in all directions, still smoking. It feels like you’re in a science fiction movie,” he said.

Everyone wants to believe that things will calm down, with the approach of the Christmas holidays, very dear to the hearts of Martinicans.

Responsible in a catering space, this 33-year-old woman, and mother of a little boy, has seen the number of visitors to her business drop since Monday. And although she is “afraid of being vandalized and assaulted”, she continues to open her shop every day, for herself and her six employees.

“I forbid myself to stay at home,” she said, fearing it would escalate. “If it is independence that they seek, they will have it. But at what cost ?! It will become dangerous.”

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