Spaceflight Insider

Guiana Space Centre Director meets with protesters as demonstrations continue

Protesters stand outside a barricade in front of the Guiana Space Centre on Tuesday, April 4. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Protesters stand outside a barricade in front of Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on Tuesday, April 4. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

KOUROU, French Guiana — Protests continued at the Guiana Space Centre with the unveiling of a sculpture of a fist, highlighting protesters’ concerns. SpaceFlight Insider spoke with workers attending this rally who marched toward the Centre to meet its director, Didier Faivre.

These protests have gone on for some time and recent events suggest that protesters are making progress. At the end of last week, the French Government offered 1.085 billion euros. The protesters refused. Overall they think that to solve the problems, French Guiana needs 3.1 billion euros immediately.

Guiana Space Centre: Protesters have formed what has come to be called "The Collective" and they have requested to have their grievances heard by European Union, French and European Space Agency officials. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Protesters have formed what has come to be called “The Collective” and they have requested to have their grievances heard by the European Union, French and European Space Agency officials. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Faivre decided to wait for the collective outside the fences of the Space Centre and eventually met with their representatives.

For his part Didier, highlighted the importance of the link between Europe’s space efforts and French Guiana, saying that the Space Centre needs French Guiana. He went on to say that he also believes that the Centre provides beneficial effects to the surrounding community, including employment and funds. He did not allow protesters to march on the Space Centre, with police erecting a barrier just outside the spaceport.

“It would be unreasonable that the march enters in the Space Center due to safety concerns,” Didier noted, adding that he has a good grasp of the situation, having a history of working in French Guiana that started 30 years ago.

A sign denoting the disparity in what workers believe they are receiving was displayed outside the Guiana Space Centre. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

A sign denoting the disparity in what workers believe they are receiving was displayed outside the Space Centre. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Protesters are seeking a grant from the French Government to purchase better equipment and facilities for local hospitals that they receive services from (those located in Kourou, Cayenne and Saint-Laurent du Maroni).

Moreover, they want the debts of these hospitals, toward the hospitals’ suppliers, to be waived. They want there to be a greater police presence, for added security to be provided to them, just as French nationals in their homeland have. Also, they are seeking comparable education services to be made available as those their French counterparts enjoy.

Didier stated that he understands that a good hospital is mandatory for the whole population. One of the complaints that has caused these protests is adequate access to health care services. Faivre became the Director of the Guiana Space Centre on October 1, 2016; before that, he served as the Assistant Director to the CNES (France’s space agency) President.

Guiana Space Centre: French police were on hand for Tuesday's protests in the event of possible violence. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

French police were on hand for Tuesday’s protests in the event of possible violence. Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Approximately 40 people, including several journalists, stayed at the Centre after the protests had concluded. Many of those who remained were awaiting answers from France and the European Union.

Faivre was asked about the status of missions slated to fly atop the various launch vehicles operated by Arianespace. He noted that, at present, four satellites are being maintained in fully safe conditions within the Space Centre.

The Guiana Space Centre, often referred to as Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), is France’s and Europe’s spaceport and is located in the northwest of Kourou in French Guiana.

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

If this has the WORST effect on the French Space Effort, it will take them years to find another Spaceport on the equator, IF they can find one.
It is distressing and deplorable that this is happening.

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