Violent Covid protests in Guadeloupe prompt curfew, crisis talks

·2-min read

There are fears the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe may be on the verge of a large-scale social conflict amid violent protests against Covid restrictions that have prompted authorities to impose a nationwide curfew.

The rallies were launched five days ago by a collective of trade unions and citizens' organisations who oppose both health pass rules and compulsory vaccinations for healthcare workers.

Crisis talks will be chaired late Saturday by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the Minister of Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu.

Four days of demonstrations, road blockades and scenes of urban violence on Thursday night prompted the government to announce the deployment of an additional 200 police and gendarmes in the coming days.

The rioters looted jewellery stores and set fire to six buildings in the city centre of Pointe-à-Pitre. Four of the buildings were destroyed. Many schools have been closed, as well as post offices and courts.

Public inquiries

Public prosecutors have opened two investigations for "degradation by fire in organised gang, and robberies with degradation in organised gang”.

Saturday’s ministers’ meeting would determine “what new measures can be taken following the public order disturbances” in Guadeloupe, a spokesperson for Lecornu told AFP.

A curfew between 6pm and 5am that began on Friday will remain in place until 23 November.

Twenty-nine people have been arrested following clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators.

Anti-vaxx culture?

Traditional medicine is popular in the French Caribbean, where plants such as lion's ear, blue porterweed, mountain mint and sage are used to treat everything from stress and high blood pressure to respiratory problems and flu.

There's a strong belief plants can protect against the coronavirus by boosting natural immunity.

Sales of Virapic, a syrup based on the local jackass bitters herb, have rocketed since it was presented in February as a "miracle cure" for Covid.

“I don’t want to stigmatise but the mistrust over vaccines is cultural,” Lecornu said in August.

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