The banana-growing islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the French West Indies have been virtually paralysed for the past month due to massive strikes against the spiralling costs of living.
Although there have been no strikes in the banana plantations, according to UGPBAN, the islands’ union of banana grower associations, business has recently been affected.
“Activities are starting to be impeded by blockages to the roads leading to the ports, especially in Martinique,” the union said. “Last Saturday, the boat left the Antilles with 44 containers from Guadeloupe and 0 containers from Martinique – less than 20 per cent of usual volumes, which stand at around 250 containers. This was the first boat to havebeen affected by the crisis. Until then, volumes had been quite normal.”
UGPBAN said that it was working with its clients to maintain commercial flows using bananas from other origins, with the priority being the French market rather than exports.
According to reports in the associated press, the strikes in Guadeloupe escalated into rioting on Tuesday, with shops ransacked, vehicles torched and no obvious end in sight.