French President Emmanuel Macron vowed on Monday to boost vaccination in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, amid what he described as a "very explosive situation" on the Caribbean island, with growing tensions over mandatory shots.
Our priority is to continue to convince [the island’s population] that vaccination is the best protection," Macron said.
Guadeloupe's vaccination rate last week stood at 33% of the total population -- well below the overall French rate of 75.1%.
Unions in the French-Caribbean island called a general strike last Monday in response to the government mandating vaccines for healthcare workers and the health pass, or "pass sanitaire." Protesters blocked roads and clashed with police throughout the week.
Some 200 police officers and gendarmes, as well as 50 officers from two elite tactical units, were deployed to the island to reinforce local police units, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter. In total, 2,250 police personnel are working to maintain order on the island.
These elite tactical units are responsible for counter-terrorism, hostage recovery situations and fighting organized crime, and are similar to the FBI’s S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams.
Macron said that the unrest on Guadeloupe was "tied to a very local context," and linked to "historic tensions."
France's overseas territories have long had a difficult relationship with the mainland, due in part to the history of French slavery and the territories' relative poverty compared to France's per capita GDP.