Macron vows Caribbean re­build as anger rises against Euro­pean pow­ers

Stabroek News - - FRONT PAGE -

PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Reuters) - French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron vowed to quickly re­build the is­lands of the French Caribbean dur­ing a visit yes­ter­day meant to dis­pel anger at his govern­ment’s re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Irma, which killed at least 43 peo­ple in the re­gion.

The clutch of Caribbean is­lands hard­est hit by the storm were mainly over­seas ter­ri­to­ries be­long­ing to Bri­tain, France and the Nether­lands, whose tens of thou­sands of res­i­dents are Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens. The U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands were also hard hit.

Euro­pean coun­tries and the United States have sent troops to de­liver aid and pro­vide se­cu­rity af­ter the storm top­pled homes and hos­pi­tals, but lo­cals and tourists short of food or shel­ter say help was slow to ar­rive.

Macron, who is also fac­ing the first test at home of his re­solve to re­form the econ­omy with a day of protests against his labour re­forms, de­nied that author­i­ties re­acted too slowly.

Ba­sic ser­vices in the re­gion were lost af­ter Irma, weak­en­ing law and or­der, and loot­ing erupted on some is­lands. Haiti’s govern­ment said yes­ter­day more than 10,000 peo­ple were in shel­ters af­ter heavy rains flooded the for­mer French colony.

Bri­tain was forced to re­in­force its marines on the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands af­ter more than 100 “very se­ri­ous” in­mates es­caped af­ter a prison was breached in the storm, Alan Dun­can, Bri­tain’s min­is­ter for Europe and the Amer­i­cas, said on Tues­day.

It was not clear if the pris­on­ers had been cap­tured.

Macron trav­elled yes­ter­day to St. Martin, an is­land France shares with the Nether­lands that suf­fered some of the worst dev­as­ta­tion from Irma. Most of the 10 peo­ple killed by Irma lived on French ter­ri­to­ries there.

“St. Martin will be re­born, I prom­ise,” Macron told re­porters in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French is­land of Guade­loupe. “I will shake up all the rules and pro­ce­dures so the job is done as quickly as pos­si­ble. It will be done

quickly, it will be done well, and it will be done bet­ter.”

Macron said 50 mil­lion eu­ros will be made avail­able as soon as pos­si­ble, and 2,000 se­cu­rity forces have been de­ployed, in­clud­ing the army, roughly dou­ble the orig­i­nal con­tin­gent.

The French govern­ment has said it would take at least three months for wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion to nor­mal­ize. The elec­tric­ity sup­ply has also been badly hit, author­i­ties said.

Bri­tish John­son For­eign trav­eled Sec­re­tary yes­ter­day Boris to the Caribbean to visit Bri­tish ter­ri­to­ries dev­as­tated by Irma. Among the hard­est hit is­lands were the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, An­guilla, plus An­tigua and Bar­buda.

“He is very keen to see for him­self the dev­as­ta­tion, to re­as­sure gov­er­nors who have done a mag­nif­i­cent job un­der quite the most in­cred­i­ble pres­sure,” Dun­can said.

Four peo­ple died on An­guilla, up from one re­ported pre­vi­ously, Dun­can said, while the death toll on the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands rose by one to five.

Speak­ing on CNN, Stacey Plas­kett, del­e­gate to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, said there was no real loot­ing oc­cur­ring, but rather des­per­ate peo­ple scram­bling for scarce sup­plies.

“Our air­port, the ter­mi­nal looks as if gre­nades have been inside there and bombed the places out,” she said. “This is not any­thing that we could’ve been pre­pared for.”

France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron (cen­tre) talks with a res­i­dent dur­ing his visit to St Martin yes­ter­day. Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool

France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron walks with res­i­dents dur­ing his visit to St Martin yes­ter­day. Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool

France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron com­forts res­i­dents dur­ing his visit to St Martin yes­ter­day. Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool

France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron walks down a de­stroyed build­ing dur­ing his visit to St Martin yes­ter­day. Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool

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