("Strike Leader Says France Sends Police To Kill Guadeloupeans," published at 1219 GMT, in the third paragraph misstated the launch date of the strike as Jan. 26. The correct version follows.)
POINTE-A-PITRE (AFP)--The leader of a general strike crippling Guadeloupe has accused France of preparing to kill protestors to bring an end to the stoppage on the French Caribbean island.
"Today, given the number of gendarmes who have arrived in Guadeloupe armed to the teeth, the French state has chosen its natural path: to kill Gaudeloupeans as usual," Elie Domota told AFP on Saturday.
Domota is the leader of the Collective against Exploitation (LKP), which groups most of Guadeloupe's unions and political parties and which launched the general strike there on Jan/ 20 over low wages and the high cost of living.
His accusation came as some supermarkets and petrol stations, which have been shut for more than three weeks, reopened as police stood by to protect the premises against potential protests by strikers on the tropical island.
"Every time there have been demonstrations in Guadeloupe to demand pay rises, the response of the state has been repression, notably in May 1967 in Pointe-a-Pitre where there were 100 deaths, building workers massacred by the gendarmes," Domota said.
On Saturday thousands of workers marched through the town of Le Moule chanting "Guadeloupe is ours, it's not theirs."
They were referring to the "Bekes," the white minority which holds economic power on an island where most of the half million residents are descendants of African slaves.
Christiane Taubira, a French member of parliament for the overseas department of French Guiana on the south American continent, warned Sunday that the situation in Guadeloupe was "not far from social apartheid."
She said in an interview that "the leaders of the LKP are not anti-white racists.
"They are exposing a reality...a caste holds economic power and abuses it," she told Le Journal du Dimanche.
Most shops, cafes, banks, schools and government offices have been shut in Guadeloupe since the start of the strike. The neighbouring French island of Martinique began its own general strike more than a week ago.
The government has said it will not give in to strikers' demands for a monthly EUR200 increase in base salaries.