PARIS — Protesters fired live ammunition at journalists and the police on Thursday night on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, injuring dozens of officers, one of them seriously, a spokesman for the French government said.
As in Guadeloupe, another French island to the north, the protests against Martinique’s coronavirus protocols — which require vaccinations for health care workers and a health pass to enter most public venues — have been exacerbated by long-running frustrations and anger over economic inequality with the mainland.The poverty rate in Martinique is 29.8 percent, almost twice the national level in France.
The mix of old grievances and new anger over Covid-19 rules has made the unrest particularly volatile.
“These extremely serious acts call for unanimous and unambiguous condemnation,” the French prime minister, Jean Castex, said in a tweet on Friday in response to the violent protests in Martinique’s largest city, Fort-de-France.
An arson attempt at the official residence of France’s most senior representative on the island was also reported. The local police office declined to comment on the report.
On Thursday evening, the local authorities had announced a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. “until a return to calm.” The curfew was in response to nighttime violence that has taken place since Monday.
Nearly 150 people have been arrested in Guadeloupe and Martinique since the beginning of the crisis, according to the government spokesman, Gabriel Attal. Ten of the arrests were made on Thursday night, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who said in a tweet, “Everything is being done to find those responsible.”
The central government also announced that it would extend until Dec. 31 the deadline for health care workers in Martinique and Guadeloupe to complete their coronavirus vaccinations.