The authorities of the French Caribbean island of Martinique ordered a curfew after protesters looted shops and set up burning barricades as demonstrations spread against measures to confront “Covid-19”.
“The police force was on alert all night to restore order and needed to use force to stop the violence and vandalism,” Martinique Police Chief Stanislas Cazel said in a statement Thursday.
Cazel added that 11 people were arrested and weapons were confiscated, and added that a curfew would be imposed between seven in the evening and five in the morning local time until the re-imposition of order.
Violent unrest swept Martinique and neighboring Guadeloupe over the past week after the government imposed stricter measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in the French overseas territories.
The requirement that all health workers be vaccinated, which is also a common practice in France, has increased feelings among most of the black population of exclusion and marginalization from the mainland. Protesters are now also demanding higher wages and lower energy prices.
Some described this as a return to the era of slavery, insisting that they should be allowed to make their own choices in matters of health care.
In Guadeloupe, where protests began last week, there is historic mistrust in the government’s handling of health crises after many were systematically exposed to toxic pesticides used on banana plantations in the 1970s.
And vaccination rates in the French overseas territories, which include islands in the Caribbean and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, are much lower than the mainland, and this led to the imposition of longer-term and stricter restrictions to combat “Covid-19”, which led to the outbreak of unrest.
A new wave of the Corona virus outbreak is sweeping the Caribbean, leading to closures, flight cancellations and hospital overcrowding, at a time when tourism, which is crucial to the local economy, is showing signs of recovery.