West Indies: A fire ignited by the vaccination obligation and the health pass [Opinion]

Chaos has taken hold in Guadeloupe and Martinique: general strike, riots, roadblocks, fires, looting, shooting against the police and journalists ... To face the urban guerrilla war, Paris sent on November 21 some fifty agents of the GIGN and the RAID to reinforce the 2250 police and gendarmes present in the territory.

In mainland France, it was the rise in the price of fuel and the limitation to 80km / h that triggered the yellow vests crisis. In the West Indies, health measures against the Covid, and in particular the vaccination obligation for healthcare staff, broke the camel's back, and revived an old distrust of Paris.

The suspension of nursing staff and unvaccinated firefighters “does not pass”.Their vaccine obligation is experienced as a gear: if "we give in for the caregivers, soon the entire population will be required" confides a Guadeloupe to Le Figaro (November 23). “My body is not a vaccinodrome,” he adds.

The health crisis has thrown salt on old but still open wounds. Old grievances explain the anger of the inhabitants of the islands. To the mistrust that dates back to the distant past of slavery, was added a feeling of contempt and abandonment by the metropolis. Social inequalities, both in Guadeloupe and Martinique, are growing between employees of the public (whose salary is 30 to 40% higher than that of the metropolis) and the private, and many self-employed workers, often not declared who, when they cannot work, therefore receive neither allowances nor partial unemployment. The health crisis has accentuated the decline in purchasing power and unemployment which primarily affects young people (55,7% in Guadeloupe, 47,8% in Martinique). Some neighborhoods have been deprived of drinking water for years.

The whole is enlivened by the heavy physical and psychological consequences of the poisoning of bodies and soils by chlordecone. The use of this pesticide in banana plantations in the 1993s continued to be authorized by the French state until XNUMX, when its toxicity was known. This molecule has polluted the soil and caused many cancers, of the prostate in particular, in the population. This is not likely to facilitate the acceptability of the vaccination by the population.

Faced with the double West Indian fire, the government throws in ballast ... and money.Before finally going there, Sunday November 28, after two weeks of chaos in the islands, the Minister of Overseas Sébastien Lecornu affirmed that the government was "ready" to discuss the autonomy of Guadeloupe (proposal that the right-wing opposition considered it particularly unwelcome two weeks before a third referendum on the independence of New Caledonia) and announced the creation of subsidized jobs for young people. Previously, the government had already relaxed on the vaccination obligation of caregivers and firefighters, by reducing its implementation to December 31 in Guadeloupe as in Martinique, by lifting the suspension of recalcitrant professionals, and by restoring their remuneration. The trade unions, for their part, do not soften: “Off topic! », They answer about the autonomy of Guadeloupe; as for the vaccination obligation, "we do not want a postponement, we want a derogation from the law!" "The decline of the government and new massive demonstrations, Saturday, November 27, the day before the arrival of the minister in Guadeloupe, reinforce their determination not to give in either on the outright withdrawal of the vaccine obligation, or on measures social policies applying to all of West Indian society. As Guillaume Tabard points out in his editorial in Le Figaro (linked below), “if the health emergency is the reason for this vaccination obligation, any postponement is synonymous with a health endangerment surprisingly accepted overseas while the argument of authority remains brandished in metropolitan France. Firmness below the Atlantic, weakness beyond. Such a derogation goes against the principle of equality of the State.

But in fact, does the health emergency really justify compulsory vaccination? With uncertainties on the effectiveness or even the advisability of vaccinating against the Omicron variant, doubt and mistrust are growing in opinion on both sides of the Atlantic.

Philip Oswald

source: Le Figaro

This article is published from Selection of the day.

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