Job Lack Fuels French Guiana Unrest: Space Center Employs Few Local Citizens

By Luxner, Larry | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 19, 1997 | Go to article overview

Job Lack Fuels French Guiana Unrest: Space Center Employs Few Local Citizens


Luxner, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


CAYENNE, French Guiana - The scene is all too familiar: a Caribbean territory whose people enjoy palm-fringed beaches, a relatively prosperous standard of living and unrestricted travel to and from the mainland.

Yet it's a place where political restlessness has begun to spawn isolated but increasingly violent demands for independence.

In this case, the territory in question isn't Puerto Rico but French Guiana, an overseas department of France wedged along the remote, northeastern shoulder of South America between Suriname and Brazil.

In the last seven years, the department's population has mushroomed from 118,000 to nearly 150,000. Its inhabitants represent perhaps the most ethnically diverse group of people anywhere in South America, from Creole-speaking Haitians to Portuguese-speaking Brazilians to Buddhist Hmong refugees from Laos.

More than a third of French Guiana's residents come from somewhere else, and nearly all have stumbled into this lonely jungle land for one reason: jobs generated by the European Space Agency's sprawling space complex at Kourou.

Michel Mignot, director of the Guianese Space Center, said the satellite-launching business now accounts for 50 percent of French Guiana's production, 30 percent of its direct and indirect jobs and 50 percent of its tax revenue.

In fact, compared with Dutch-speaking Suriname and English-speaking Guyana - both impoverished after centuries of European colonial rule and a few decades of independence - French Guiana isn't suffering.

HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT

It has good roads, decent health care and a generous social security system, chiefly because of $500 million a year in assistance from Paris. Yet the department, home of the infamous Devil's Island penal colony, also has serious economic and social problems.

Officially, French Guiana's unemployment exceeds 25 percent; some say the true number approaches 35 percent. As a consequence, crack addicts roam the darkened streets of Cayenne at night and drug-related crime has jumped dramatically in the last few years.

Its AIDS infection rate is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. A number of people, once happy with their European Union passports and working telephone system, are beginning to wonder whether French Guiana might be better off on its own.

"France doesn't want to develop this country. The only thing that's important for them is the space center," grumbles Maurice Pindard, secretary-general of the Movement of Decolonization and Social Freedom (MDES), French Guiana's independence party.

"The government wants social peace, but you can't have social peace without jobs," Mr. Pindard said.

The 41-year-old math and physics teacher added that "thousands of children can't go to school because there aren't enough schools" and that "most of the small companies here are closing their doors because they don't have enough work to do."

POLICE INJURED

Earlier this month, violence erupted in Cayenne when police and demonstrators clashed after an MDES leader was placed in pre-trial detention. According to the Reuters news agency, the protesters had attempted to set fire to Cayenne's central police station, prompting paramilitary riot police to use tear gas to disperse hundreds of people who were camped out in front of the central courthouse.

Nine policemen were injured in a similar pro-independence disturbance in April, eight of them by gunfire. Those riots were triggered by the arrest of 10 other independence supporters accused of attacking the residence of French Guiana's state prosecutor in November 1996 after protests over deteriorating secondary-school conditions.

At the time, the riots were condemned in Paris; Jean-Jacques de Peretti, France's minister for overseas territories, blamed the unrest on "vandals who have nothing to do with the problems of educating the young. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Job Lack Fuels French Guiana Unrest: Space Center Employs Few Local Citizens
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.