Strikers attempt to occupy Arianespace spaceport in French Guiana


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The labor strike that has shut down Arianespace’s French Guiana spaceport has taken to turn for the worse with an attempt by about 30 strikers to occupy the spaceport.

The article provides almost no details. We also have had no recent updates on the state of the labor negotiations. At the moment it appears this strike could last a while.

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12 comments

  • LocalFluff

    Do not take me as an authority on this! I hardly know where Guyana is, other than close to orbit.

    But I read in French news that the strike seems to have been triggered in Kourou as a strike against the space port bringing in foreign truck drivers to handle the next Ariane 5 and Soyuz launches. With only 250,000 inhabitants the cost of an Ariane launch corresponds to about $1,000 per inhabitant, they want their little share of that spending. And of course, a rocket strike creates headlines, and it humiliates Paris. The space port makes a great hostage!

    However, the conflict is much deeper. Guyanians consider themselves 100% French, and legally they are, and feel neglected by Paris (most French are said to believe that Guyana is a tiny island). Like in the US and Western Europe, also in Guyana violent crime is escalating with uncontrolled mass immigration (maybe from Venezuela, in Guyana 35% are born outside of the territory) without any kind of political countermeasures being taken. Since Guyana legally is as French as France, they have huge trade barriers against non-EU members, as in against all of America and especially Brazil with which Guyana naturally would trade. Instead they import almost everything from in France, so cost of living is higher in Guyana than in mainland France!

    France’s main presidential candidates have all made a number of the Guyana crises, each with their angle. Even French MSM describes the causes of crises as immigration violence and EU regulations, which fits Marine Le Pen very well. If this becomes significant for the presidential election, it will likely not be resolved before election day May 7. I don’t think they have anything to lose by continuing the strike until then, getting media attention and promises from presidential candidates.

    Paris sent two high officials to negotiate with the union leaders. They offered $1 billion in government investments in Guyana, but that was turned down. The unions require $2.5 billion, that’s $10,000 per inhabitant. Sounds to me they are willing to keep on striking.

  • LocalFluff

    I read somewhere that at least one of the communication satellites Ariane 5 would’ve launched, has been flown back to Europe. Maybe not necessarily for safety reasons, but maybe because it needs special attention to remain launch ready.

  • LocalFluff: This is very good information. Thank you. Can you provide any links?

  • LocalFluff

    @Robert
    Sorry, I’m not an investigative reporter. I don’t keep records much. So please don’t go on record repeating my claims here as the truth, blaming me! I might be wrong here and there. I’m not a source. The privatization of a hospital seems to play an important role, somehow. It’s difficult to understand the politics of a very foreign country. Especially a French one.

    Here’s a video news report, in English, that gives the general impression:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB64C-wGsJE

  • LocalFluff

    Here’s another English video source. From “marxist dot com”!!!
    https://www.marxist.com/unlimited-strike-in-french-guyana-we-are-all-guyanese.htm

  • wayne

    Al Jazeera has a number of recent video reports, although figuring out their particular lies, distortions, and active-misinformation is a full time job unto itself.

    French Guiana paralysed by nationwide strike
    https://youtu.be/j924OdOVwOo

  • Dick Eagleson

    Localfluff,

    Much of what you wrote is simply wrong.

    The piece of territory at issue here is French Guiana. There used to be three different Guiana’s, all colonies of European powers. The easternmost of the three is still French Guiana, which is no longer a colony but is not independent either. It has a status within France roughly comparable to an American state. The closest American analog would be Hawaii. As with Hawaii, there are parts of the population who don’t really think of themselves as real citizens of the mother country and regard citizens of Continental France as foreigners.

    Those “foreign” trucks some of the strikers are complaining about, for example, are French trucks. I know nothing of the specifics of the strikers’ complaints other than the obvious local chauvinism, but I will observe that it makes no economic sense to bring in trucks – and truckers – from clear across the Atlantic unless the locals were completely unsuitable and also unwilling to be trained or to upgrade their equipment to be suitable in some way. The white French may be racists or things even worse, but they are not wastrels and fools with their own money.

    As with all the current and former Guiana’s, French Guiana has a border with Brazil. But it has no border with Venezuela.

    The next former Guiana, moving westward, is the now independent nation of Suriname – formerly the colony of Dutch Guiana. Like French Guiana, Suriname also has a border with Brazil but none with Venezuela.

    The westernmost former Guiana is the now independent nation of Guyana – formerly known as British Guiana. Guyana is the only current or former Guiana that has a border with Venezuela in addition to one with Brazil. It does, indeed, have a significant “illegal alien” problem anent Venezuela. Given current events in Venezuela, one would hardly expect matters to be otherwise.

    Returning to French Guiana, I think it bodes ill for a quick resolution of the current crisis that strikers are trying to occupy the spaceport. The fact that official France is, in effect, paralyzed by likely-to-be-quite-consequential upcoming nation-wide elections is also not helpful to the cause of restoring space launch operations promptly. I expect this mess to drag on for quite awhile.

    I hope this little disquisition of mine has made everything at least a little clearer.

  • LocalFluff

    I conclude, speculative because I’m no insider here,:

    – that the strike is en expression of very deep societal problems, like EU trade barriers and immigration and the relationship with Paris,

    – that the transportation issue was just a formal excuse,

    – that the space port is an important symbol for Guyana and for French prestige,

    – that Arianespace is only used as a hostage and that there is nothing they can do to stop the strike,

    – that it is deliberately timed to coincide with the French presidential election.

    No rocket will be launched from Guyana until the strikers have gotten what they demand from Paris, or the next president brutally sends in the military against them. A launch without a victory for the “union” (or the rebels to be dramatic, they seem to be quite peaceful) would be a humiliating defeat for them and could make the crisis permanent.

    @Dick Eagleson,
    You don’t make clear where I’m wrong. Thanks for the geography lesson, but I already knew all of that because I had a quick look at a map. It is very likely that some lobbyist in Paris won a transportation contract for the space port, beating the local competitor. As you well know, since you know the space industry, the higher the costs the better! Politically. That means there’s more tax money for the fraudsters to steal. They might very well have brought a roro ship with trucks and workers. Heck they bring the entire bloody Soyuz launcher over there, not because it’s rational! The people of French Guyana want their share of the tax money flow being spent in their part of France.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff,
    I think that one of the places where Dick Eagleson thinks you are wrong is that you use “Guyana” instead of “French Guyana.” This may be because the news reports that you linked do the same. This may be a problem of cross cultural communications, where the French use Guyana rather than the longer version, but we in America think of Guyana as a country distinct from French Guyana. It may be similar to Americans often saying “The Virgin Islands” when talking about the US Virgin Islands rather than distinguishing from the British Virgin Islands.

    I don’t know about the politics of what is going on, but it sounds like an example of why local control over laws and governance is better than central control from a far away capital that does not care about local cultures, heritages, or customs. Sort of like that Hawaii example. An overbearing central control can alienate the local populace, who come to feel that their own needs are being ignored and abused.

  • Edward and LocalFluff: You both also make the mistake of spelling French Guiana with a “y”, which is incorrect.

  • wayne

    This was confusing me for a few days when all this started– there’s Guyana (Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid Kids), Suriname, and then French Guiana where the Spaceport is located.
    -I hate to reference Al Jazeera or RT, but they both have extensive videos on French Guiana going back 6-8 years.
    If any of those reports are to be believed, LocalFluff isn’t too far off in his characterization.

    Edward– I never could keep the “Virgin Islands” straight!
    tangentially– wasn’t a whacky democrat congressman, worried that Guam was in danger of “tipping over,” a few years ago?

  • LocalFluff

    There are “Guineas” all over the Earth. Using the ‘y’ for the one in South America is simply practical, and the conventional name of it in many European languages. Especially in French, since it was the French who first discovered and tamed those savages in the jungle. I don’t think the savages would’ve built a space port to perpetuate life in space for ever. I think the locals would’ve simply died out when their fruits rottened.

    Colonization is a very good thing. Not only on Earth, but in space too. On Earth, colonization abolished slavery and taught starving oppressed enslaved primitives how to prosper in freedom.

    If I were president of France, I’d not even appoint any foreign minister (“secretary of state”). I’d simply let some admiral in the navy take care of business down there with his gun boat. I’m maybe a bit old fashioned, but it worked when it was done.

    Colonization is a very good thing. Not only on Earth, but in space too. On Earth, colonization abolished slavery and fed and educated starving oppressed enslaved primitives on how to prosper in freedom. Now we worry that our students in Asia are doing too well!

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