PARIS (Reuters) – The situation remains “very difficult” in Guadeloupe, where unrest erupted last week over COVID-19 curbs imposed by Paris, despite Prime Minister Jean Castex’s call for calm in France’s overseas territory, said the French interior minister.

“There are still scenes of extreme violence with police forces being shot at with real ammunition,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Inter radio on Tuesday.

A general strike entered into a second week on Monday and many stores remained shuttered after night-time looting, even though Darmanin said the 200 extra police officers deployed since Sunday have helped quell some of the unrest.

French Overseas Minister Sebastien Lecornu also said on France 2 television that he and some other members of the government would go to Guadeloupe to examine the situation.

Compulsory vaccination has touched a nerve in a population that is descended from slaves who worked on French sugar plantations. During the 20th century, many people on Guadeloupe were also systematically exposed to toxic pesticides used in banana plantations.

Trade unions started strike actions on the neighbouring French Caribbean island of Martinique this week.

The Caribbean has been hit by a new wave of coronavirus infections that is causing lockdowns and flight cancellations and overwhelming hospitals, just as tourism was beginning to show signs of recovery.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)



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