Protests against COVID restrictions on the French island of Martinique descended into looting and violence on Wednesday, with barricades erected overnight amid rising tensions in the Caribbean.
Footage shared on social media shows flames engulfing parts of Martinique, as protesters rioted around a shopping center and proceeded to speed up the rollout of mandatory vaccinations for health workers on the island. Roads were blocked during the unrest.
The introduction of a vaccine mandate is believed to have upset many residents on Caribbean islands, as many are descendants of slaves who were exposed to toxic chemicals when they were forced to work on plantations in the 20th century.
Les barrages et les affronts contingent en martinique alers que la grave generale contre le pas dur depus maintenant 3 magazines. Plécius affrontement on et leu entre les manifestants et les forces de l’ordre qui on fte usages de Gazzane.#martiniquepic.twitter.com/W9p9OCECU2
— pinell kevin (@Jewim66) November 25, 2021
Guadeloupe, a nearby island that is also under French control, saw protests over the weekend, with 38 people detained on Sunday after they engaged in looting and vandalism during a protest against the curfew. Authorities have extended the night curfew in an effort to restore peace after violent clashes.
The situation comes days after French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the situation in the Caribbean region was now deteriorating. “Explosive.” There are also concerns that some protesters were carrying guns and there were reports of police firing in the midst of the chaos.
The COVID measures set by the French government in Paris were met with a general strike in the region by trade unions and fierce opposition. Macron’s government was forced to engage in crisis talks with representatives from the Caribbean island earlier this week to quell growing discontent.
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