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Social unrest turning nasty in France

by Jerome a Paris Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 06:19:19 AM EST

Social tensions have been increasing in France lately, but have been kept in check so far as the government has abandoned various "reforms" (most recently one on universities) and a high level social summit between Sarkozy and selected union leaders is taking place tomorrow, with announcements expected just after it (Sarkozy has booked TV time to make announcements, expected to include higher compensation for temporary unemployment). Sarkozy's tactics are to avoid anything that would be a pretext for social unrest, and to do everything to break the unity of the unions, by buying off some of them with selected reforms these have been calling for.

Unfortunately, he has not been as careful with the rather large demonstrations that have taken place in the Caribean island of Guadeloupe, where island-wide strikes have been underway for a couple of weeks now, and early attemtps to buy them out (via pay increase supported by the relevant Minister in the form of lower social charges for companies) were cancelled by Sarkozy out of fear of creating a dangerous precedent. But the demonstrations have been turning violent in the past 2 days, and a union leader was killed this morning, an event certain to inflame the situation, and making it likely that it will spread to other islands, and possibly to metropolitan France too.

Things could get "interesting" quickly.


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That sounds ominous.

Murdering union organisers is something I'd expect from third-rate banana republics, not European countries.

Sounds like we might end up partying like we're back in '99 after all... only, back in 1899 rather than 1999.

As an aside, your second link does not take me anywhere.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 06:31:00 AM EST
The strange thing is that the union leader appears to have been murdered by young protesters - those that have set up blockades or roads. The circumstances are not clear yet, but seem unrelated to protests or negotiations. In other words, that person is not a victim because it's a union representative. But it's still a murder linked to the unrest, and it's not goign to help.

But Martinique and Guadeloupe are in every possible meaning the clsoest thing to a banana republic we have in Europe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was Guadeloupe for a few weeks in 2006. My overall impression: "creepy, dangerous, and under-policed". I felt a lot safer in Venezuela (although I never was in Caracas).
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I visited in 1996 and my impression then was already "a thin layer of France on top of nasty racial tension and poverty".

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 09:43:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This morning's Radio France news broadcasts mentioned everything about these incidents, especially that three policemen were slightly injured by firearms. But not a word about the death of the union leader.

Which to me would appear to mean that the authorities were sitting on the news, at least at 6:00-7:00 CET.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 08:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the events timeline makes it possible. The news broke on Europe1 Radio after 10:00 CET (4:00 in Guadeloupe).

Un mort en Guadeloupe, un rescapé témoigne - Actualité France - Société - Radio Europe1 One dead in Guadeloupe, a survivor witnesses - News France - Society - Radio Europe1
C'est en accompagnant des pompiers venus porter secours à ce syndicaliste que trois policiers ont été légèrement blessés par des tirs de plombs, provenant "vraisemblablement d'une arme de chasse". Les secours avaient été prévenus vers 00H18 (heure locale) de la présence d'une personne blessée par balle à bord d'un véhicule. Mais après avoir essuyé des tirs de projectiles, ils ont demandé à la police de les accompagner. Et ce n'est qu'une fois le site "sécurisé", vers 02H50, qu'ils ont pu approcher du syndicaliste, entre-temps décédé.It was while escorting firefighters who were going to the unionist's assistance that three policemen were slightly wounded by fire "probably from a hunting shotgun." Emergency services had been called at 00h18 (local time) and told of a person with gunshot wounds in a vehicle. But, faced with a barrage of projectiles, the firemen asked for a police escort. And only when the site was "secure", around 02H50, did they manage to get to the trade unionist, who had died in the meantime.

So the news that three policemen were injured could conceivably have got through before the news of the unionist's death.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 09:16:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
on Le Monde's website, via email alert at 11h01, so it was made public then. How much time was taken to try to sort things out on the ground is not clear, but the delays (a couple hours, in the middle of the night over there) do not appear illegitimate or fishy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 09:45:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, according to Le Monde:

La situation aux Antilles - Société - Le Monde.fr

10:30 - Jacques Pino, un membre du LKP abattu

Jacques Pino, un membre du "collectif contre l'exploitation" (LKP) a été tué vers 00h30 (heure locale) par une balle tirée "depuis un barrage tenu par des jeunes" dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi à Pointe-à-Pitre, indique la cellule de crise de la préfecture de la Guadeloupe. L'information a été donnée dans un premier temps par Europe 1.

But no, there's apparently nothing fishy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The one fishy thing is that the Police has already solved a crime despite being unable to inquire peacefully, i.e. being shot at as it approached.

How impossible would it be for at least some of the youth to be provocateurs ?

Apparently the state has now brought in the riot police, and has started arresting demonstrator - a bit of blood, attributable to the rioters, can be very convenient.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
do it, here in the States.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 01:28:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is nothing fishy - just that the timing of the announcement, in itself, is not suspicious.

As you and linca point out, there ARE other suspicious facts.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:16:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, my point above was that information may have been retained by the authorities, because that was the way it could look considering that police casualties were announced without a word about the unionist. It no longer seems to look that way.

But who killed the unionist, and why? That's another question.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French Antilles economy is in the hands of a small group of heirs of the former colonists. They often enjoy monopoly privileges. Look at this group: Groupe Bernard Hayot. It controls huge swaths of the local economy.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 08:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And not just the French Antilles. I see that GBH has interests in Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Algeria and Morocco. It's as if decolonisation never happened.

Among other things, GBH owns the Citroën importer in Algeria, something I would have expected to be owned by Citroën itself or a local Algerian tycoon. I also notice that a lot of GBH's business seems to involve running franchised branches for big French retailers, trading on their names and reputations.

by Gag Halfrunt on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 02:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]



"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." (Einstein)
by B girl on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 11:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Murdering union organisers is something I'd expect from third-rate banana republics, not European countries.

As a rule of thumb, colonies that has been to weak to break from their former master often resemble third-rate banana republics.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 11:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, colonies that have been strong enough to break from their former master often resemble third-rate banana republics too ;)

OTOH, the thirteen North American colonies that broke away from their English master finally managed to become...

Oh, wait. Forget about it...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 11:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a rule of thumb, colonies that has been to weak to break from their former master often resemble third-rate banana republics.

Having traveled through the Caribbean at various times, I can assure you that quality of life in the non-independent islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe) is way, way above that in the independent ones (St Vincent, St Lucie, etc). Some of these places are good examples of hell under the tropic sun.

There would be one exception : the Virgin Islands, Tortola being a more civilised place than St Thomas.

I'd be curious to see the figures, but I assume a lot more money flows into the french islands than the opposite.
The real problem seems to be the leechers living off this financial stream.

I am no expert, but I'd say the natural ressource would be tourism, and it's just not competitive with the Dominican Republic or Cuba : high costs, not enough local production, etc.
I don't see an easy way to development over there. Just as in many places, too few resources for the number of people and the way of life they are expecting.

by balbuz on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 01:52:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the food riots have not started in earnest yet...

http://www.flex-news-food.com/pages/20351/Food/Global/food-riots-looming-again-2009---fao.html

but they will.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:12:04 AM EST
you and I seem to read from the same Tarot deck (reference to my older brother Dave who went boogats back in the late '70's).  Borrowing the word "interesting"  from Jerome, let's see how the human species evolves over the next year.  Should prove "interesting".  Evolution usually is.  Sometimes messy but always interesting.  Ask the dinosaurs 2 weeks after the Mexican asteroid hit.  I think that event caused a "crisis" back then.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your link on the union leader's murder doesn't work, J.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:26:03 AM EST
but here's the BBC:


Guadeloupe protests turn deadly

France has appealed for calm on its Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after a local official died during protests against the rising cost of living.

The union representative was shot dead as he drove up to a barricade set up by youths in Guadeloupe's biggest town, Pointe-a-Pitre, local officials said.

Earlier, police had responded after coming under a barrage of stones from protesters who burned cars in the town.

Several were reportedly injured as police used tear gas to disperse them.

In recent days, the month-long general strike on Guadeloupe has spread to the French island of Martinique, 160km (100 miles) to the south, where looting has been reported amid thousands-strong rallies demanding higher wages




In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:53:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, sorry, I thought there was a separate story about a union leader in France.  For some reason the diary is showing up with two links.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:57:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, it's working now.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fixed it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 08:37:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what's redeaming about France: Machiavelli's Ferocious Populism always on the alert like in Thailand, in the good sense of the word.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:37:21 AM EST
Bayrou is on the attack now; criticizing Sarko for lowering taxes on the rich instead of using that money to help the poor.
http://fr.news.yahoo.com/2/20090218/tpl-bayrou-modem-sarkozy-va-encore-multi-ee974b3.html

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 07:45:40 AM EST
This story reminded me of an image on this morning's NPR website:

Economic Crisis Poses Threat To Global Stability : NPR


Protesters burn an effigy of the prime minister Jan. 21 during a demonstration over the handling of the financial crisis in Reykjavik, Iceland. Police used tear gas to break up an angry protest outside parliament the next day; it was the first time police had used tear gas in Iceland in more than a half-century. AP

which in turn reminded me of this image:



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:04:31 AM EST
[Bakchich] Premier jour de Bakchich aux Antilles, premières impression de Guadeloupe. Premier mort du conflit. Première polémique. La journée du 17 février par notre envoyée spéciale.First day of Bakchich in the Antilles, first Guadeloupe impressions. First death of the conflict. First Polemic. February the 17th as told by our special envoy.
Jacques Bino, un syndicaliste de l'UGTG, ami de Patrice Tacita, membre d'Akyo, atteint d'une balle en plein thorax, tandis qu'il rentrait chez lui en voiture. D'un tir venu d'un barrage de jeunes...selon la police. L'entourage de la victime et de son accompagnateur est moins affirmatif. « On ne peut pas savoir d'où est venu le tir... »Jacques Bino, a friend of Patrice Tacita, was shot by a bullet in the torso as he was driving home. The shot came from a youth blockpoint... according to the police. The friends of the victim are less sure of that. "It's impossible to know where the shot came from".


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:16:14 AM EST
This is not going to calm things down... Is the government betting on troubles to go for a "forceful" solution? It's an incredibly risky bet today, beyond being callous.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would that amaze you, coming from the Sarkozy government ? and from the party that gave use the 1988 Ouvéa events ? Why would they behave differently in the Pacific and in the Atlantic ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but they have to see that it's a more dangerous bet for them than at any other time. It could backfire seriously.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:49:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The looters are going for broke.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is going to defend Guadeloupe, in France ? Beyond the powerless far left, and the ineffective center left ? How can it backfire ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:55:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rationale would be to divide and conquer by demonising an "extreme" group.

  • Underclass youths are rioting with firearms and killing representatives of the decent local population;
  • The government will talk with the decent local population, but rioting underclass youths have to be dealt with;
  • So everyone can understand why more battalions of riot police have to be sent to the island(s) and quasi-martial law imposed;
  • Those who don't understand this are clearly not representatives of the decent local population.

Sarkozian enough. I'm not saying it's that, but it could be.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 11:02:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<shrug> Sounds like Sarko-type SOP to me. Beatings will continue until morale improves or there are no protesters left.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the government would do something like that, it's too risky. But it could be some local thugs working for the békés...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 12:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could be in alliance with some local semi-corrupt authority. But I don't see the French government directly involved. For one thing it is way too leaky to try such things...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 05:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An impressive (although very old) figure : 15 years ago, the top 5% of Guadeloupe earned... 50% of the island's incomes. The old beke community, the descendants of the white slaveowners, own most of the island...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:20:26 AM EST
5% -> 50%
That should be the same in metropole and they dont produce much there, everything come from France, goods, money (allocations braguette,transfert).

not much to be proud of there

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 09:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and they dont produce much there, everything come from France, goods, money  

Same with Kosovo...everything comes from EU, USA...
until it stops coming...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 12:45:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and I forgot to mention Albanian worldwide mafia...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 12:46:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they dont produce much there, everything come from France

Ungrateful brown people, n'est-ce pas?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 03:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
14 février 1952: une grève en Guadeloupe réprimée dans le sang | LeMatin.chFebruary 14th 1952 : A strike in Guadeloupe bloodily put down
En janvier 1952, les ouvriers et cultivateurs obtiennent le soutien des fonctionnaires qui réclament également de meilleurs salaires. Une grève générale touche toutes les plantations et s'étend du Moule à Capesterre, Sainte-Rose et Anse Bertrand. During the month of January, industrial and field workers ally with civil servants who are also asking for higher wages. A general strike touches all the plantations from the Moule to Capesterre, Sainte-Rose and Anse Bertrand.
Le 11 février, les CRS prennent position au Moule. L'intervention est préparée entre forces de l'ordre et propiétaires d'usine. Le 14, les grévistes érigent un barrage à l'entrée du boulevard Rogé pour empêcher l'accès des charrettes chargées de canne à sucre à l'usine Gardel. Les policiers tirent dans la foule désarmée, tuant quatre Guadeloupéens et blessant 14 autres. Plusieurs n'avaient aucun lien avec le mouvement social, simples passants ou curieux.On february 11th, the riot police takes position in the Moule. The police and factory owners prepare for an intervention. On the 14th, the strikers blockade the Rogé boulevard to prevent charriots filled with sugar cane from entering the Gardel factory. The police shoot at the unarmed people, killing four, maiming 14 others. Many were only passing by or curious bystanders.

Emeutes du 25-26-27 mai 1967 en GuadeloupeMay 1967 riots in Guadeloupe
Les négociations échouent et débouchent sur un mouvement de révolte qui entraîne les mêmes devant les portes de la chambre du commerce et de l'industrie de Pointe-à-Pitre les 26 et 27 mai.
Les forces de l'ordre appelées sur les lieux tirent. L'une des premières victimes fut Jacques Nestor, militant du GONG (groupement d'organisations nationalistes de la Guadeloupe), très populaire à Pointe-à-Pitre. Rapidement, les affrontements s'étendent à toute la ville. Les jours qui suivirent donnent lieu à une vague d'arrestations, notamment parmi les militants du GONG qui sont emprisonnés, inculpés, et envoyés en métropole pour atteinte à l'intégrité du territoire national.
The discussions fail and result on a revolt movement which sends [those on strike] in front of the Trades and Industry Chamber on May 26 and 27. The government forces called to intervene shoot One of the first victims was Jacques Nestor, a very popular Point-à-Pitre member of the GONG (Guadeloupe grouping of nationalist organisations). Quickly, the riots extend across the city. The following days, many are arrested ; particularly GONG members who are jailed and sent to France for assaulting the integrity of the French territory.
Le nombres de victimes reste, jusqu'à nos jours, sujet à caution. On parle en effet dans les jours qui suivent de cinq morts. En 1985, suite aux nombreuses interpellations du gouvernement, les chiffres officiels font état de 87 morts. Le 1er mai de la même année, plusieurs jeunes et travailleurs venus manifester à Capesterre Belle-Eau sont interpellés.The number of victims is yet unclear. In the following days, a figure of five deaths is mentioned. In 1985, following many questions, the official number is of 87 deaths. On the first May of that year, several youths and workers who went to Capesterre Belle-Eau to demonstrate are arrested.

The 1967 event is still covered by Military secret, as those that did the shooting were from the Foreign Legion...

Guadeloupe, part of France, but still a colony.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 10:43:50 AM EST
They are now asking for autonomy in Caribean island of Guadeloupe. So why don't France give them autonomy???
They were very quick to recognize Kosovo...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 06:50:11 PM EST


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