By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 3:17 PM on 19th February 2009
Britons are among thousands of
Trouble broke out on the island earlier last month after protesters began rioting over high prices and low wages.
But the situation escalated this week after protesters began turning on rich white families as they demanded an end to colonial control of the economy.
The troubles come at the height of the holiday season, with thousands of mainly British, French and American tourists on the paradise tropical island.
Protesters were now targeting
'all white people', with the media in mainland
Guadeloupe is a French overseas
department ruled directly from
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters are roaming the streets of the capital Point-a-Pitre, looting shops and restaurants, burning cars and vandalising public buildings.
Union leader Jacques Bino was the first man to die in the violence when he was caught in crossfire on Tuesday while driving a car near a roadblock manned by armed youths who had opened fire at police.
Six members of the security forces were injured during shoot-outs with the armed youths as they tried to help emergency teams who were trying to save Mr Bino's life.
Dozens more police and demonstrators have also been hurt in frequent clashes on the capital's streets - which one newspaper describing it as looking like a battlefield'.
Most shops, banks, schools and
government offices are now shut in Guadeloupe and the neighbouring
'All the same elements of the
riots on mainland
'We don't have the same concrete buildings, there are palm trees instead, but it's the same dead-end, the same "no future" for young people, with joblessness and a feeling of isolation.'
The first protests began a month ago when the left-wing union coalition, the Collective Against Exploitation, demanded a £180 a month pay increase for low-wage earners.
President Nicolas Sarkozy sent his minster for overseas departments to the island to meet with union leaders on response to the demands.
But the racial tensions which have been simmering for decades exploded into full-scale rioting, with colonial descendants who own 90 per cent of the wealth becoming the focus of the violence.
The unrest was further aggravated last week when wealthy white landowner Alain Huyghues-Despointes publicly criticised mixed-race marriages and said he preferred to 'preserve his race'.
Laetitia Delaprade, spokeswoman at Voyages Antillais, a Paris-based travel agency that specialises in French Caribbean, said: 'People are scared. No one wants to go there and those that are there want to get out.'
Tourism Authority chief Madeleine de Grandmaison said: 'Tourism is fragile. People are not only cancelling this week, but also for all the months of February, March and April.
'We have a huge deficit of
tourists ahead of us. At least 10,000 tourists have cancelled vacations in
The Paris-based Association of
Tour Operators has now classified
A spokesman said: 'Most
'None have been hurt yet but there is the threat of violence in the air and staying there no longer feels comfortable.'
A spokesman added: 'It is very busy. Every flight leaving the island is is full