‘I lost everything’: Guadeloupe riots overtake COVID protest

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France is sending police special forces to its overseas Caribbean region of Guadeloupe as protests against COVID-19 restrictions spark rioting and looting for the third day in a row

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LE GOSIER, Guadeloupe – Residents of the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, an overseas territory of France, expressed dismay on Sunday as rioting and looting broke out for the third day in a row over COVID-19 restrictions, prompting French authorities to send police Gaya. special Forces.

Road blockades by protesters made it nearly impossible to travel across the island on Sunday. Firefighters reported 48 overnight interventions on Sunday morning. The island of 400,000 people has the lowest vaccination rate in France at 33%, compared to 75% nationwide.

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In Pointe-ए-Pitre, the island’s largest urban area, clashes left three people injured, including an 80-year-old woman who was hit by a bullet on her balcony. A firefighter and a police officer were also injured and several shops were looted there and in other cities. A police station in Morne-ए-l’Eau was set on fire.

Guadeloupe prefect Alexandre Rochte, who has imposed a night curfew from 6 pm to 5 am, said on Sunday that 38 people were arrested overnight and condemned “organized groups are now trying to sow chaos”. .

Pointe-ए-Pitre resident Emily Guisbert, 47, was sleeping in her home in a building owned by her father on Thursday evening when it was set on fire. Her friend woke her up and she had time to get dressed and out with her dogs, she told the Associated Press.

“I lost everything. Everything. I went out with my cellphone and what I was wearing,” she said, adding that her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents’ personal things were in the house. “It’s a 100-year memory of a Guadeloupean family that went up in smoke in 15 minutes.”

He said that he is yet to get help from the authorities. “We are completely left on our own. I don’t know who is cleaning (the house). Is it us, Insurance, City Hall?”

Gregory Agape, 30, who also lives in the Pointe-ए-Pitre neighborhood, where violence recurs frequently, said he couldn’t sleep at night.

“We are always disturbed by the noise, the bangs, so the nights are very complicated, very short,” he said.

Agape said he has conflicting views about the COVID-19 protest movement. “I am well aware of the economic, social, cultural difficulties … but it is quite complicated, because I think (protests) are making Guadeloupe society even more fragile.”

“I’m not against the vaccine and not against it. But what bothers me is the looting. Because we need to work,” said Jacques Bertilli, 49, a Le Gosier resident.

French Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin called the violence “unacceptable” in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday. He said 50 officers of police special forces were arriving in Guadeloupe on Sunday, in addition to 200 other police officers sent earlier.

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

Rochte said some electrical facilities near the dams have been damaged, causing some power outages, and urged people not to go near electric cables.

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