All flights to French Guiana were canceled Thursday as a wave of national protests against the French government demanding higher wages, an end to insecurity, more jobs and better social services, continue to rock the country.
Workers in Guiana formally approved a “general and unlimited strike” on March 25, about a week after they started paralyzing part of the country’s economy.
After “symbolically” occupying central Kourou, a town and district on the Atlantic coast, the Black-run workers' collective “So Guiana Takes Off” warned the French government they will “toughen up” and continue mobilizing until their demands are properly addressed.
The protesters left Kourou’s center Wednesday, shortly after the French Council of Ministers approved an emergency plan allocating over US$1 billion to the territory. The number remains a far cry from the US$2.5 billion initially demanded by the collective, now raised to US$3.1.
Meanwhile, the situation in Guiana has reportedly caused tension in the upper echelons of the French government.
Black Liberation: A Hemispheric Task
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was reportedly "outraged" when Minister for Overseas Departments Ericka Bareigts apologized to the people of Guiana and promised that the French government would address their issues.
“Disastrous apologies disconnected from reality, opening the gates for more demands,” Cazeneuve is believed to have said, according to a leak disclosed by investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchaine.
Considered an “overseas department” of France, French Guiana was colonized by the European country in 1503. Since then, France has denied the colony the same labor and health care rights that those on the mainland enjoy.