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French Guiana: The Unheard Blackout

For more than a week now, French Guiana has been in turmoil. The population is protesting against the skyrocketing price of gas by blocking roads, closing schools, and businesses. The cost of gas is currently €1,77 per liter (US$ 2,25), in contrast to the price of oil, which has been going as low as US$ 50,00 per barrel in the past weeks. The French Guianese blogosphere echoes this massive mobilization.

In a post on November 28, Le Blog Guyane [fr] explained the economic, political and social interests at stake, which justify this great popular and political rallying.

“Déjà que la vie est chère ici, mais avec l'essence à 1,77 euros ça devient plus gérable pour beaucoup de gens. Du coup blocage total des transports, voiture, avion, déchargement des bateaux. Petit probleme, certains bleds isolés dépendent de l'essence pour l’ électricité, la filtration de l'eau étant électrique, plus d'eau potable en début de semaine prochaine (le fleuve est pollué au mercure des chercheurs d’ or), plus d'électricté pour les dispensaires, etc….. “

First the cost of living is expensive here, but with 1,77 euros per liter of gas, life becomes very hard for some people. So the roads, the Rochambeau airport and the discharging of the cargo ships are blocked. The problem is that some very remote places depend on gas for electricity, for water filtration which means no more drinking water at the beginning of the next week (the river water has been polluted as a consequence of gold washing with mercury) and no more electricity for the community clinic, …”

He also focuses on the fact that this great general blackout has largely not been covered by international media, although the problem has aroused a rarely-seen-before commitment from the Guyanese population and politicians to act.

“Eh oui, des barrages partout, plus d'écoles ni de magasins ouverts,plus d'essence, il reste l’ hopital et la police….. Bon vu qu’ apparement la Guyane n’ interesse pas trop les médias ni notre cher président, ni même beaucoup le secrétaire d’ etat à l’ outre mer…”

Well, there are roadblocks everywhere, schools and shops are closed down, there is no more gas and only the hospital and the police station are still in function….It seems that the medias, our dear President Sarkozy and the Overseas Departments Minister Jego are not much interested in French Guiana…”

A post on the blog Dom et Steph en Guyane [fr] highlights the necessity for the population and the authorities to start a great debate on the question of greener energies.

“Espérons aussi qu'un débat de fond sur les alternatives à la consommation de pétrole soit initié.”

“Let's hope that this situation will trigger a serious debate concerning the alternatives to the use of gas in French Guiana.”

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