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Massive protests in French Guiana sent minister Royal home

Staff Writer |
Massive protests have spread through French Guiana, blocking roads to neighbouring Brazil and Suriname and prompting the U.S. government to issue a travel warning for the French territory in South America.

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Hundreds have taken part in protests over high crime, the cost of living and anger at the quality of social services such as health care.

A visit by Segolene Royal, the French minister of ecology, to the territory on March 17 was cut short after masked demonstrators from the collective stormed into a regional conference on biodiversity she was attending in the department's capital city of Cayenne.

The Collective of 500 Brothers, the group largely behind the unrest, is demanding that the French government send a minister to negotiate with them, according to spokesman Ken Saint-Luce.

"We, citizens of French Guiana, are tired of living our lives like this. Life over here has become very difficult," Mr Saint-Luce said told Surinamese radio station Apintie.

"We had been talking to the local government for weeks, but that did not lead to anything concrete."

The demonstrations have paralysed French Guiana in recent days as protesters blocked roads and many businesses and schools have closed.

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