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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guadeloupe: the strike radicalized - International Solidarity needed!

In a few days the Guadeloupe (a French territory colonized in the American continent) will be commemorating a month of general strike. The movement led by the LKP ( union against exploitation) ,which regroups the territory's syndicates, declared a general strike against the "expensive life". The strikers are demanding the lowering of the prices of basic goods such as food or gasoline, the lowering of taxes and the increase of social aids to the workers being paid below the minimum wage. In fact the Guadeloupe has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the EU which is at 25% and 55% amongst the youth
The movement was very effective in paralyzing the activity on the island and forcing everyone to participate by blocking roads to supermarkets, work places and gaz stations. The demonstrators have been facing police repression (yesterday 50 people were arrested and then released) but also racism from the french security forces ( who are mainly white, and the demonstrators are mainly black). The movement has gained in scale since it extended to the other french islands in the American continent such as the Martinique, and it refused to make any concession to the government. In fact after nearly one month of strike, Sarkozy has just decided to pay the island a visit in order to hear the demands since repression and dissuasion haven't worked. (Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte - Reuters)

These Islands have a history of repression and struggle regarding the metropolitan power which resides in Paris. They are not of equal development with their continental counterpart, social inequalities and poverty are staggering. Many people are rememberin May 1967 where 87 construction workers were massacred by the the security forces while they were protesting for a 2% increase in wages.
Surpisingly (or not), on continental France the only signs of support to the general strike came from the extreme left who demonstrated yesterday. This is surprising because the the strike in the Guadeloupe began on the 20th of January, that is 9 days before the general strike in the metropole which means that it was a precursor to the protestation wave. The french syndicates, and the workers in general ought to follow the Guadaloupean strike and take lessons from it because that is how things should operate in order to stand in the way of Sarkozy's reform. The current strike has shown resilience, determination, and effectiveness that should be generalized on a national scale.
The movement on the french islands should be the first sign for a larger scale national movement that should aim to regain the streets, the public sphere and to push Sarkozy to pull back and even resign. More importantly international solidarity is needed to support the movement due to its legitimate demands and way of action. The situation in these french islands is not very unique and can be identified elsewhere: prices of basic goods are rising everywhere, the minimum wages are not sufficient to survive, the people are suffering from a crisis caused by the financial system, governments pushing to liquidate the social benefits and the public property. Those realities are being witnessed all over the globe from Europe to Asia: the right wing and social democrat governments are making the people pay the crisis caused by the banks. Such an international problem needs an international movement to counter act, and to push for a just international system. Therefore the movement in Guadeloupe shouldn't be isolated and left alone, international protestation should spur all over, let's start at least with an international solidarity with the comrades in Guadeloupe and Martinique! Solidarity is not a question of what cause you support, or what class you are in, or where you are from, or even who you may be. SOLIDARITY my friends is a question of humanity, is a fundamental question of knowing what suffering entails, and resisting. It is a subtle but truthful shame that our histories, our cultures, our lives, our borders, have become barriers towards our humanity. And it is my belief that Guadeloupe deserves our support. This is a call to all who can and should act!

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