PARIS -- Protesters angry over virus and vaccine rules occupied Guadeloupe's regional legislature because of stalled negotiations over their grievances about management of the French Caribbean island.
Regional Council President Ary Chalus agreed to a meeting with some of the protesters' representatives, the council tweeted after Thursday's incursion. Officials in Guadeloupe and Paris denounced the protest action as unacceptable and a threat to the democratically elected body.
Inside the council building, the protesters strung a banner reading “No to Obligatory Vaccination, No to the Health Pass,” according to images posted online by local officials. A Christmas tree was shown knocked over.
The protesters in Guadeloupe are also seeking better access to clean water, pension and wage increases, and mass employment.
Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France, uses the euro currency. One-third of the island's population lives below the poverty line, and the cost of living is higher than in the French mainland. Water supplies have been a major problem in recent years because of obsolete pipes.
Anger over France's handling of a toxic pesticide in Caribbean banana fields has fueled mistrust in the government’s COVID-19 vaccine polices, along with misinformation shared on WhatsApp or Telegram groups.