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NewsMacron is silent, Paris is in chaos: In France, the situation is...

Macron is silent, Paris is in chaos: In France, the situation is beyond the control of the authorities News


Bordeaux City Hall nearly burned down

Unions say 3.5 million people turned out for rallies across the country on March 23, while authorities suggested the figure was much lower, just under 1.1 million. The figures are almost identical to those of the strongest day of the demonstrations, March 7, according to France Info. In Paris, union leaders said a record 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city (police cited 119,000 protesters) to demand the government reverse bitterly contested pension policy changes.

However, the national day of mobilization against the actions of the authorities was clouded by outbreaks of violence and vandalism. In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, the front door of the town hall was set on fire and late in the night in Paris clashes broke out between police and groups of protesters dressed in who ransacked and set fire to cars in the quiet streets of the city.

In the capital, an official demonstration, which included a large number of representatives of French society of different generations, left Place de la Bastille in the early afternoon and headed for Place de l’Opéra on along the Grands Boulevards, the main east-west route through the northern part of central Paris.

Members of the French union carrying flags and banners were surrounded by their stewards for their safety. The crowd was tight and angry with the government and the president, but the mood was also celebratory and buoyed by a show of solidarity, reports the Guardian. However, closer to 5:00 p.m. local time (7:00 p.m. Moscow time), the mood was spoiled by a group of young people called casseurs (“grinders”). Dressed in black and wearing masks, they led the march and destroyed bus stops, billboards, storefronts, McDonald’s facades and newsstands, leaving shards of glass and piles of burning garbage cans. They also dismantled the iron bars around the trees and broke the cobblestones which they then threw at the police.

The head of the Interior Ministry blamed the “ultra-left” for the riots

The most violent clashes took place on the Place de l’Opéra and then the Place de la Bastille, where the police tried to disperse them with tear gas. Part of a woman’s arm was torn off by a tear gas canister in the city of Rouen, where between 14,800 and 23,000 protesters had gathered, police and unions said. Mass demonstrations took place in Marseille, Lyon, Besançon, Rennes and Arles, as well as in other French cities. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Thursday evening that most of the 103 people arrested in Paris were “mostly young people” and were known members of “ultra-left” groups. During a visit to the French police headquarters, the minister said that 149 police officers and gendarmes have been injured in recent hours during the processions, AFP reported. “We have been able to document that the far left is behind many violent demonstrations, which I don’t want to confuse with peaceful demonstrators. The far left will not win,” the French Minister of Foreign Affairs insisted. Interior. Data on the number of injured protesters was not available.

The opposition calls for a “double demonstration”

Even before the president’s centrist government rammed pension changes through parliament last Thursday, using a constitutional measure that avoided the vote, record numbers of workers had taken to the streets in previous weeks. On Monday, the Macron administration narrowly survived a vote of no confidence by nine votes, but the way the law was passed – without a vote in parliament – angered the French.

Many protesters have accused the president of showing “contempt and arrogance” towards those who oppose the changes that were a cornerstone of his campaign last year. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the La France insoumise party and former presidential candidate, called on Macron to withdraw the law. He said he did not agree with the violence, but added: “We should double down on our protests and strikes. There is a drift towards authoritarianism in France; a lot of people are starting to say this is now going too far. Valérie Rabot, chair of the Socialist Party caucus in the National Assembly, urged Macron to hold a final debate in parliament before the pension law is passed.

Among the most angry were the protesters, who said the new law was a double jeopardy for those who spent time in their careers raising children and who were most likely to work in low-paying, menial jobs.

“Everyone is outraged. Everyone thinks this law is unfair, but it mostly punishes women who are supposed to produce the nation’s future generations and then find themselves punished for it,” said Marie, 46, an assistant social.

What to expect next?

The main French trade unions again called for mass demonstrations on March 28. In the meantime, the strikes against the pension reform will continue this Friday in certain sectors.

According to the forecasts provided by the SNCF, rail traffic is improving, but, nevertheless, it will remain disrupted on certain lines. On average, only 3 out of 5 trains are scheduled to cross the country. Almost halved the movement of metro trains in Paris.

The directorate general of civil aviation is again asking companies to cancel 30% of their flights to Paris-Orly on Friday and 20% at other airports because of the strike by air traffic controllers against the pension reform, announced Thursday the organism. At Orly, the situation for travelers will improve slightly on Saturday since only 15% of flights should be canceled, according to Le Figaro.

The mountains of rubbish piled up on the sidewalks of the capital are gradually decreasing, Parisians will still have to wait before disappearing. At a general meeting on Tuesday, the CGT Public Services voted to extend the strike until Monday, the union told Le Figaro. Three large Parisian incinerators are expected to experience more disruptions in the coming days.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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