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General strike begins in French Guiana

General strike begins in French Guiana
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By James Edgar with Agency
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A general strike in protest over high rates of crime and unemployment begins in French Guiana

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A general strike has been launched in French Guiana in protest over the very high rates of crime and unemployment.

A group called the The 500 Brothers is leading the strike, which is supported by 37 unions.

The 500 Brothers, who wear black t-shirts and masks over their faces, say they are not a private militia, and that they are standing up against organised crime.

#Guyane : qui sont les “500 frères”, le collectif contre la criminalité ? https://t.co/Sr3npznL9Cpic.twitter.com/XBvHLWvFtg

— L'Obs (@lobs) March 27, 2017

They also say they want more money from the government to improve the struggling health and educations systems.

Their spokesman Mickaël Mancée said: “If we wanted to be a private militia, we would be armed, we would not have gone to see the authorities, and if we had to act we would have acted in the shadows.”

A delegation of French government representatives have gone to the territory, but The 500 Brothers said they wanted to see the country’s most senior politicians.

A member, whose identity was hidden by his mask, said: “The Guyanese demand the immediate arrival of the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Economy, Health and Finance. Greet the minister for us and tell him to come.”

France’s Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has since said he will send a ministerial team to French Guiana by the end of the week.

[Déclaration] Situation en Guyane pic.twitter.com/ZMq83eSQHT

— Bernard Cazeneuve (@BCazeneuve) March 27, 2017

Last week huge areas of French Guiana were crippled by strikes, demonstrations and roadblocks.

The territory is home to the European Space Agency’s spaceport, where rockets are launched into space, but during the protest several drivers stopped the transfer of the Ariane 5 rocket forcing its launch to be postponed.

Due to evolution of the situation, Flight #VA236 is deferred. Launcher & payloads are in fully safe conditions. https://t.co/VKVHMHiD68

— Arianespace (@Arianespace) March 23, 2017

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