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Cazeneuve calls for continuation of dialogue in French Guiana

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has termed the French Guianese labour leaders' demand of a 2.5 billion euro package as unrealistic.
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has termed the French Guianese labour leaders' demand of a 2.5 billion euro package as unrealistic. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on Monday to “continue the dialogue” over French Guiana which has witnessed unrest for more than 10 days due to a general strike.

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Labour leaders in the South American territory rejected the one billion euro aid package offered by the French government, demanding instead 2.5 billion euros right away.

“It would be easy to promise unrealistic financial measures and then leave it to another government. But that’s not the idea of the responsibility we have in the Republic,” Cazeneuve said in Matignon.

He appealed for “reason and for lifting the barriers.”

“Blocking Guiana, blocking its economy, blocking its schools, blocking its public services is not the way to prepare for the future,” he said.

France made a 1.085 billion euros offer on Saturday, mostly for “emergency measures” but with some of the cash paid over 10 years.

The proposals include investments in health, education and infrastructure, and the deployment of extra police and construction of a prison.

French Guianese leaders however described the proposals as “unsatisfactory” and the collective behind the strikes called for a “special status” for the territory in talks with Bareigts.

In a referendum in January 2010, French Guiana voted firmly against autonomy.
“But this crisis is the expression of the failure of this referendum,” said Gauthier Horth, another member of the collective.

Striking workers have set up barricades on several roads and forced the postponement of the launch of an Ariane rocket carrying a Brazilian telecoms satellite.

Workers in several sectors, including the energy giant EDF and public hospitals, have launched protests demanding pay raises and improved public safety and health coverage.
 

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