France fuel protests

Tear gas fired in clashes in Paris
Protesters have scaled the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, as clashes with riot police continued during a third weekend of “yellow vest” rallies.

300,000 people took part in the first country-wide demonstration, on 17 November. Most demonstrators have remained peaceful, although more than 200 people were injured, several seriously. One person died when they were struck by a panicked driver and a motor-cyclist was killed a few days later, when they were hit by a van making a sudden turn in the traffic chaos.

Why common people became “yellow-vests”?

Valarie is a regular at one of France’s “yellow vest” protests against rising fuel prices. Valerie’s family runs three cars and she says they cannot function without them. “Since we left home we haven’t seen a single shop. We have got no choice. We have to use our cars in the countryside“.

Home is a pleasant house on the outskirts of a village. Her husband is a factory manager and her daughters are in further education. They have a decent family income by France standards but they say they are struggling financially.

“My shopping basket has less in it than before. I am much more careful about what I spend. We don’t go out anymore. Every day we feel the impact. My father used to say there was the working class, the middle class and the rich. Today there is the working class and the rich. The middle class has gone“.

When yellow vests have gone to Paris to demonstrate, there have been serious clashes with police. There are lot of young people who say “it’s going to be another May’68”. Some older ones say it could even be a civil war. “[President Emmanuel] Macron will stick with his laws. But at least he knows that the people are not happy. He will see that there is a wall in front of him”.

Macron is cutting longstanding benefits and ending labour protections.

For example, he’s made it easier for companies to hire and fire employees and fought unions to end subsidies for certain sectors.

That’s why some see Macron as a president of the rich, Lightfoot added, initiating changes that many of the country’s wealthy can muddle through but that the nation’s poorer cannot.

BBC: Read more

Rising poverty in France

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