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Protesters rally in Guiana to slam French treatment

29 March 2017 17:28

 

Protests continue in French Guiana as people in the South American territory demand better treatment from Paris.

More than 10,000 attended a demonstration in the capital Cayenne on Tuesday as a nationwide strike in the territory of around 250,000 people entered the second day.

The protesters, most of them clad in black, chanted slogans against France, yelling, “We are fed up! French Guiana, rise up, rise up!”

The French government has dispatched two ministers to calm down the situation in its overseas department.

A statement from the office of French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Wednesday said Interior Minister Matthias Fekl and Ericka Bareigts, minister for France’s overseas territories, were dispatched to French Guiana to seek a solution to protests sweeping the territory.

The statement said the ministers would hold talks with key figures behind the protests to find a solution to demands of the protesters.

The trip by the ministers comes after days of protests and a general strike in French Guiana. The movement began with demands for greater security against crime in the territory but it later evolved into more organized protests against cost of living and the poor quality of health care, among other things.

People demonstrate in support of the general strike in Cayenne, on the French overseas territory of French Guiana, on March 28, 2017. (AFP photo)

 

More than two dozen unions have endorsed the strike while reports suggest that roads to neighboring Brazil and Suriname remain blocked. Businesses and schools have also been shut down while protesters have prevented the launch of rocket carrying communications satellites for Brazil and South Korea.

People in French Guiana have repeatedly lamented about deep economic, social and racial divides between France’s mainland and the former colony. The territory, which serves as the site of Europe’s Ariane rocket launches, uses the euro currency and depends heavily on imported goods and policy decisions made in Paris. However, it suffers from a 50 percent unemployment rate among young people while 30 percent of the population lacks drinking water or electricity in their homes.

The unrest could become a major challenge for Paris less than a month ahead of French presidential elections. Candidates have felt the pressure from the overseas voters, demanding that the government increase aid or intervention in French Guiana.

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