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Tourists flee Guadeloupe as civil war looms

As the week progressed the few tourists left in Guadeloupe who had not fled the country were staying in their hotel rooms, as riots brought the French territory closer to outright civil war.

In the wake of five weeks of mass protests and strikes demanding that Paris initiate pay rises and reduce the prices of basic goods, nearly all of the island’s commercial activity has been brought to a standstill.

Guadeloupe’s normally busy airport is shut and roads around the island have become impassable due to barricades made from felled trees and burnt-out vehicles.

Protests have spread to a number of France’s other overseas territories, including neighbouring Martinique, where protesters have also taken to the streets with demands that are similar to those expressed in Guadeloupe. Demonstrations have been mounted in French Guyana, in South America and La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, as well.

Four additional squadrons of riot police – a total of 280 officers – were sent by Paris to Guadeloupe mid-week to join the three squadrons that are already on the island, dealing with the protesters.

“I hear a country that is crying, a country that has been put to fire and the sword,” said regional council president Victorin Lurel, after a protester was shot and killed at a Pointe-à-Pitre barricade.

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