Violence erupts in Guadeloupe after labor dispute

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Violence has erupted in Guadeloupe after a month-long general strike protesting the high costs of food and fuel.

A union official, Jacques Bino, has been reported killed by armed youths at a barricade in Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest city. Three police officers were injured when they tried to reach the scene.

Map of Guadeloupe with Pointe-à-Pitre in red.

"He was killed at a roadblock held by rioters, a group of youth who were mostly wearing masks," Prefect Nicolas Desforges told France Info. "He wasn’t killed in a confrontation with police."

Guadeloupe is an overseas department of France. The French government urged calm and called for a meeting between the disputing parties. Workers in Guadeloupe are seeking a $250 per month pay raise.

French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said that France is sending 260 National Gendarmerie officers to quell the violence.

Minister of Overseas France, Yves Jégo, said that France has set aside 190 million for increased food, housing, and unemployment allowances in Guadeloupe.

Meanwhile, there are reports that unrest has spread to nearby Martinique.