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Guadeloupe: Gas too expensive; the island is blocked!

After the general blackout in French Guiana, it's now the turn of the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to wake up all numbed.
The butterfly shaped island linked by the bridges of “le Pont de la Gabarre” and “le Pont de l'Alliance” has been paralyzed on both sides: Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. Gwada in Bienvenue sur Karukéra[Fr] tells about the main road blocks that drivers have to face to move around the island:

Depuis deux jours les routes principales sont bloquées. Des barrages ont été installés sur les axes et carrefours principaux: Montebello, Capesterre, Gourbeyre, Baillif, La Boucan… en Basse-Terre; La Jaille, La Voie Verte, Saint-Félix, Morne à l'Eau… en Grande -Terre….
Il n'est quasiment pas possible de circuler, sauf sur tout petits périmètres….

For two days, the main roads have been blocked. Road blocks have been set up on the main roads and crossroads in Guadeloupe: Montebello, Capesterre, Gourbeyre, Baillif, La Boucan… in Basse-Terre; La Jaille, La Voie Verte, Saint-Félix, Morne à l'Eau… in Grande -Terre….
It is almost impossible to move around, except over small areas…

It all started on Monday (8/12) when the truck drivers, the bus drivers and the school bus drivers implemented their decision to block the main roads of the island as a way to protest against the price of gas. Just like in French Guiana earlier, Guadeloupeans are wondering why the price of household or professional gas hasn't been gone down, when news from outside the island relates the steady reduction in the price of oil per barrel.

On Thursday (04/12), after a decision from the Government influenced by the Guianese crisis, Guadeloupean people could fill their gas tank for 1.36 euros per liter instead of 1.51, but it didn't sound enough when compared to the 1 euro per liter price of unloaded gas in continental France today.
This, of course, raises the question of the way the price of gas is set up by the French Government. To answer, Gwada explains here that the equation is a very complex one:

Il faut savoir….. Dans les DOM, le prix des carburants est fixé par arrêté préfectoral… Dans tout le département, il est le même, quelque soit la marque du distributeur, quelque soit le lieu de distribution. L'équation qui sert à fixer ce prix est complexe, et verrouillée par les distributeurs eux-même…. Pas de concurrence, sous le regard bienveillant de l'état….

You need to know that…In the French Overseas department, the price of oil fuels are set by order of the prefect. It is the same throughout the department, whatever the brand of the retailer is and wherever it is sold. The equation is quite complex and locked by the retailers themselves. Consequently, there is no possible competition, and the prefect takes good care of it….

To show their discontent and their misunderstanding, the professionals passed on the word to organize road blocks on Monday. After the “Black Monday”, the Guadeloupean blogosphere and the media started reacting today to explain the reasons for this mobilization and to give tips on the most effective ways to move around the island and avoid the road blocks. Géraldine en Guadeloupe in La Gwada bloquée tells about the difficulty to reach Jarry today:

Aujourd'hui, ils remettent ça accompagnés cette fois par les transporteurs. Et le blocage se durcit. Comme on peut le voir sur la carte, pas question d'aller plus loin que Jarry qui est complètement désert alors qu'il s'agit de la plus grosse zone économique de l'île

Today, they do it again, but this time the tuck drivers come along. So, the road blocks are more numerous and tighter. As you can see on the map, there's no way people can reach or go further than Jarry, which is a complete desert, although, it is usually the biggest business area of the island.”

The obvious reason why Jarry is blocked is to make the mobilization more visible – but the least obvious one is that Jarry is the location of the port and the oil factories. The ultimate goal is to put some pressure on “la SARA” – the ONLY oil refinery company in the French West Indies – which holds the monopoly on the oil business both in Guadeloupe and Martinique. As Gwada explains above, this monopoly makes it the only partner for the prefect when it comes to establishing the price of gas. Guadeloupean politicians usually feel left out of these decisions and have chosen to support the mobilization and to be the spokespeople of their electorate on this issue.

Whatever the resolution to this conflict is, the demonstrators can be proud of the immediate echo their mobilization has had at the national level. This video [Fr] from LCI, one of the main French news channels, shows that continental France cannot be oblivious to the protest in the overseas department. Mycho, in Critiqart Guadeloupe, who tries to keep up with the mobilization day by day, is waiting for the speech by Yves Jégo, the Secretary of State for French overseas departments, who is supposed to deliver a speech by video conference today, in the hope of suggesting a solution to the problem.

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