[QODLink]
Americas
Violent protests hit French island
Protesters seeking better pay on Caribbean island of Guadeloupe clash with police.
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2009 01:30 GMT
Protesters want a $250 pay rise for workers who make about $1,130 a month [Reuters]

Protesters in the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe have set buildings and cars on fire and clashed with police as strikes over pay and high prices crippled the island.

Thousands of tourists have also fled the island and neighbouring Martinique after four weeks of demonstrations.

Late on Monday night police fired tear gas at protesters in Guadeloupe's largest town, Pointe-a-Pitre, as they set fire to roadblocks, while gangs looted shops, smashed storefront windows and set fire to two buildings.

"It is a political crisis, an institutional crisis and we are on the brink of sedition," Victorin Lurel, Guadeloupe's regional council president, told France-Info radio on Tuesday.

However, Elie Domota, a leader of the Collective Against Exploitation, or LKP, the group of unions and political parties organising the strikes, accused France of "repression", local newspapers reported.

Calm urged

France, which administers both islands, has urged "calm, responsibility and restraint", with Michele Alliot-Marie, the French interior minister, saying she hoped talks with the protesters, which had broken down, would resume.

Paris has refused to accede to strikers' demands for a raise of $250 a month for low-wage workers who now make about $1,130 a month.

On Tuesday business leaders in Martinique agreed to a 20 per cent price cut on most supermarket products, despite initially rejecting the demand.

Behind much of the unrest in Guadeloupe and Martinique is anger within the local Afro-Caribbean community - many of whom are descendants of slaves brought to the island by France - that the vast majority of wealth and land remain in the hands of colonists' descendants.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.