First violence in the demonstrations, less massive in France

First violence in protests, less massive in France


Violence broke out on Tuesday afternoon for the tenth day of protests against pension reform in France, with a very tense general climate and deadlocked dialogue between Emmanuel Macron's executive and the unions .

In Paris, the police intervened to disperse a group of thugs, some of whom looted a business and lit a fire in garbage cans, AFP journalists noted. Twenty-two people were arrested, according to the police headquarters.

The police fired tear gas canisters to “dislocate” “the block” and allow “the intervention of firefighters .

Clashes between demonstrators and the police erupted in Nantes (west), where a bank branch was set on fire and the administrative court targeted, as well as in Rennes (west), where numerous degradations took place.

Opposition to this emblematic reform of Emmanuel Macron's second five-year term, which delays the retirement age from 62 to 64, has become more radical since the government passed the text without a vote in the Assembly, exposing himself to motions of censure which failed on March 20 to overthrow him.

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For a long time peaceful, the demonstrations are now punctuated by violence increasing, with in particular many policemen, gendarmes, thugs and demonstrators injured or fires in public buildings.

The Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin announced a “security device unpublished” for Tuesday with “13,000 police and gendarmes, including 5,500 in Paris”.

These law enforcement agencies faced a mobilization down 20 to 40% depending on the city. In the capital, the CGT announced 450,000 demonstrators, against 800,000 on March 23, with figures from the authorities not immediately available.

And government spokesman Olivier Véran assured Wednesday that the executive was “the bulwark against illegitimate violence”, while rejecting a proposal by the unions to resort to “mediation”.

“We have the impression that no matter what we do, nothing changes,” regrets Suzanne, 21, a student interviewed by AFP in Lyon (center-east). “They push us to the limit, but they won't wear us out.”

At the same time, blockades, pickets and demonstrations have been going on for days, disrupting the fuel supply in certain French regions and some roads or logistics depots.

Pause on garbage cans

Train traffic was severely disrupted on Tuesday. And civil aviation asked airlines on Tuesday to give up part of their flights on Thursday and Friday, in particular at Paris-Orly, due to the strike by air traffic controllers.

More than 15% of gas stations in France were running out of petrol or diesel on Monday, particularly in the south, west and the Paris region.

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In Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are closed due to a strike, as is the Palace of Versailles.

And thousands of tons of garbage, which serve as fuel for groups of thugs in the evening, still disfigure the French capital after more than three weeks of garbage collectors' strike. But the unions have announced the “suspension” of their movement from Wednesday.

While remaining inflexible on the reform, the government proclaims its desire for “appeasement”. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne opened three weeks of consultations on Monday, with parliamentarians, political parties, local elected officials and social partners.

The unions, who have warned against an uncontrolled skid of the protest, do not intend to give up on the retirement age, the keystone of their slogans, which regularly bring together hundreds of thousands of people. since January, out of a population of approximately 67 million people.

The leader of the reformist CFDT Laurent Berger, who is calling for a “pause” in this reform, asked the executive on Tuesday to set up “mediation” to “find a way out”.

< p>The head of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, announced that the intersyndicale was going to “write to the President of the Republic”, to ask him once again “to suspend his project”, while certain voices of the left opposition , like the communist leader Fabien Roussel, accuse Emmanuel Macron of “playing the rot” of the movement.

“No need for mediation”

“No need for mediation,” retorted the government spokesman, who said he was ready to negotiate on a whole host of work-related issues. He believes, however, that the reform has passed and that its fate is in the hands of the Constitutional Council.

But even within the majority, the centrist deputies of the MoDem have said they are in favor of the establishment of a mediation.

Note in the processions a greater number of young people, particularly mobilized on the issue of police violence, some of which were widely shared on social networks. The Council of Europe has criticized an “excessive use of force”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin will be heard in the National Assembly on the “management of the maintenance of order” in the coming days, a parliamentary source also indicated.

A sign of the deleterious climate, particularly violent clashes opposed demonstrators and the police on Saturday in a rural region in central France against a backdrop of hostility to a water reservoir project.