France sends police reinforcements to Martinique to quell Covid riots

Police reinforcements arrived in the French Caribbean territory of Martinique on Tuesday to restore order after unrest that broke out over COVID-19 measures, in particular the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers, a government minister said.

Martinique, and earlier the nearby island of Guadeloupe, has witnessed several days of protests against COVID-19 measures that have turned into violence.

Sebastien Lecornu, France’s minister for overseas territories, said 70 gendarmes had arrived earlier in the day, plus two squadrons that were deployed from metropolitan France without warning, to help clear roadblocks.

“Social dialogue is not possible without a solid foundation and that solid foundation is the restoration of freedoms … and our ability to restore order,” Lecornu said at a press conference in Martinique after meeting with his leaders and unions .

Last week, Paris announced that it would postpone the requirement that public sector workers in Guadeloupe and Martinique be vaccinated against COVID-19, but the disorder has continued.

The vaccine mandate and other COVID restrictions stoked long-standing grievances over living standards and the relationship between the Caribbean islands of France and Paris.


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