Thursday, 29 January 2009

Avoid Guadeloupe...

This is a worrying report that I just picked up from TBH has been predicting that the current world economic crisis will lead to great civil unrest and after Iceland, and the riots there, I believe him.

I must say that I had not thought the Caribbean would be one of the next places to suffer but seems it is. I wonder what is happening on the french islands in the pacific?

Yachts leaves Guadaloupe as strike hits

The general strike in Guadeloupe running in tandem with the situation in Europe took a dramatic turn for the worse yesterday and I regret that it will be necessary to remove the entire Swan charter fleet from the island base in Pointe a Pitre.

Three of our captains are long term residents of the island and they strongly support this action - they feel it has become necessary to do this to preserve not only their own safety but ensure the continued integrity of our Caribbean operations.
Two yachts have already left but two captains are waiting to see how the situation develops as they have domestic responsibilities which would make leaving the island for any length of time difficult. But they will leave if they have to.
Racial tensions have been building up in Guadeloupe over the past week and the absence of food, water and power has created a politically charged and dangerous social situation.

A serious crisis has been evolving this week to the extent that the local population has little food and water left. Inevitably this will put pressure on a situation that could quickly evolve into civil unrest.

The deteriorating situation during this current week has not been well reported locally in the Caribbean or internationally. Following a crisis meeting at the Guadeloupe Prefecture today the authorities are now mobilising the police and armed forces to cope with a strike situation that is predicted to last as long as one month.

Our captains had been staying on their individual yachts as they had not been able to travel to their Guadeloupe homes safely - most forms of transport, including private cars, are now at a standstill due to the lack of fuel in the country. Armed gangs are blockading routes and white French nationals are suddenly being randomly targeted, causing many residents to begin to fear for their safety.

The captains are predicting a good chance of severe civil unrest next week - under these circumstances we were compelled to move the fleet 20 miles south to Les Saintes a) where it is safer and b) where most shops and businesses are still open - this is only an anchoring area with no marina facility. If things do not improve in Guadeloupe very quickly we will then temporarily relocate the fleet to Antigua.

article gives a little more background to the root of the unrest.


kenintoronto said...


Australian's Death Triggers Antigua Outrage

In the midst of preparation for the 42nd Antigua Sailing Week, the largest and most spectacular regatta of the Caribbean, the island is in uproar and yachts are leaving in droves, as the yachting community grieves in anger about the shooting death of Australian 38-year-old yacht skipper Drew Gollan.

Some yachts have already left for neighbouring islands including St. Maarten, Nevis and St. Barts.

During a meeting convened yesterday at a local entertainment hotspot yachtsmen and residents alike openly and aggressively expressed their frustration at the incident that claimed a colleague’s life.

Some of those gathered hurled expletives and chastised the police and those in authority for allowing rough elements to infiltrate the community.

'Some of the yachts have already decided to leave, others are considering it. Some have left,' one yachtsman’s angrily shouted.

Another member of the yachting community announced that he had just received a phone call notifying him of a captain’s meeting in St. Maarten, where a decision was taken that 'no single boat will return to Antigua.'

Reportedly, based on the discussions from that meeting, directives were given for the yachtsmen to moor their vessel in neighbouring islands.

One captain said he has been coming to Antigua for over 20 years and because of this incident, he will be pulling out of Antigua and added that he does not plan to return until the crime situation is brought under control.

Another boat captain, who said that he lives here, said he was given instructions to leave Antigua as well. He said he will not be returning until next year.

John Duffy, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Yacht Association said despite the tragedy he was hoping that the skippers would stay, but said the decision is solely theirs, adding that he understands the risk in keeping their boats in Antigua.

He said something urgently needs to be done to protect the industry, now at the brink of collapsing.

Tourism Minister Harold Lovell, who was present at the meeting and obviously overwhelmed by the situation, tried to offer some comfort to the yachtsmen.

He asked them not to leave and promised that everything is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

While expressing sorrow at the prospects of having to leave, one captain said that he cannot afford to put his crew at risk and told the minister he will leave today.

The Caribbean lies on the critical route between the gigantic drug suppliers of Colombia and the world's biggest market, the USA. Drugs are said to be the cause of much of the crime in the Caribbean. Cruising sailors have set up their own Caribbean Safety and Security Net to try to deal with the ongoing issue.

Drew Gollan's partner, Alena Sitkova, who was also wounded in the incident, said that Gollan had died trying to protect her and their baby daughter Carolina, when they were attacked by a would-be robber. He sustained three gunshot wounds to the chest and was dead on arrival at the local hospital.

The couple had been planning to settle in Hervey Bay in Queensland where Gollan had been previously employed as a Whale Watching skipper.

Gerry said...

another worrying story Ken. may i ask where you picked that one up from? Thank you for letting us know about it.

One wonders what will happen next?