Unrest Continues in French Guiana

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

The protests that have largely shut down French Guiana show no sign of diminishing as locals and government officials in France remain far apart.

The movement behind more than two weeks of social unrest in French Guiana has called for a complete shutdown of the overseas territory from Monday, after a police officer was injured.

Activists are protesting decades of under-investment in the French territory in South America, paralysed by a general strike that 37 unions called on March 25.

Locals last week rejected an offer from Paris to inject a billion dollars of aid to the territory, home to 250,000 people, instead demanding $2.5 billion (Dh9 billion) immediately.

The protests also led to the indefinite postponement of an Arianespace rocket launch at Europe’s Guiana Space Centre in Kourou.

A Collective to Get Guiana Moving, spearheading protests to improve economic development and job creation programmes, on Saturday called for a complete blockade from Monday of the territory, which relies on huge injections of public funds.

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  • JamesG

    You get people used to government providing and they’ll get upset if they think they aren’t getting their fair share of other people’s money.

  • I seen before that native French Guianese aren’t allowed to work at the space center. I’m not sure the relationship is exactly equal.

  • Kapitalist

    This doesn’t have anything to do with Arianespace, they are just being held as hostage, nothing they can do about it. It is about uncontrolled mass immigration (from Venezuela?) and the violence it brings, without Paris doing anything about it. And it is about the EU trade barriers that stops Guiana from trading with its neighboring countries and forces them to import everything from France, making their cost of living higher than in Paris. The strike started because of the French presidential election, they have been getting attention from the candidates. So the strike might continue until around election day May 7. The space port is of course a great hostage, the strike would maybe not have gotten any attention without it.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    We limit who can work on AFB/AFS facilities too. We also limit who works at rocket companies to US citizens in large measure. Let the rioting begin…

  • JamesG

    As Kapitalist says, its not really about the LC, that is just a useful bit of leverage.

  • duheagle

    You may well be correct about the other political aspects of this thing, but you seem a bit geographically impaired. Venezuela has no common border with French Guiana. Guyana (formerly British Guiana) has a border with Venezuela, but any Venezuelan illegal aliens would have to cross both Guyana and Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) to get to French Guiana. It seems unlikely that illegal immigration is an issue in the recent unrest.

  • Kapitalist

    Well, I live in Sweden where 1,000,000 anonymous immigrants have come in recent years, added by 100,000 per year now (and we have a ten million people population). And if you have a look at the map it’s a far way between the Middle East and Sweden. So I doubt that it is so hard for people escaping the tortures of Venezuelan socialism to get to French Guiana, which legally is France proper and might give them great rights for nothing, for example to continue to Sweden which has open borders with French Guiana and where all illegal immigrants are automatically guaranteed citizenship and life long financing from the enslaved Swedish population.

  • duheagle

    The per capita annual income in French Guiana being $4,000, the demands the strikers are making to the French government amount to 25 years worth of annual average per capita income in one big chunk. The French government offered 10 years worth and got turned down. Given the galloping sense of entitlement on display here, I find it hard to foresee a swift end to this wrangle.

    Viasat removed one of their satellites from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch manifest last year and booked a ride on Ariane 5 because the FH’s debut was again, at that time, being delayed. That bird is now, I believe, fourth in line for a ride uphill out of Kourou. If Kourou remains scuppered by political unrest for a few more months, and FH actually flies in the meantime, it would be ironic were Viasat to switch it’s bird’s ride back to FH.

  • Paul451

    And if a launch facility in America was limited to non-Americans, you don’t think Americans would be upset? Or if Floridians weren’t permitted to work at KSC. Alabamans at JSC, etc.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Of course we would. We had a revolution, remember? And built our own space program. However, if you don’t and you are still living in your parent’s basement, don’t be surprised if the rules aren’t any fun.

  • publiusr

    I just had this vision of protesters sliding off the sides of one marked up by graffiti