Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

France Closes Museums and Eiffel Tower, Prepares for Protest

Paris riots continue despite fuel tax delay 'We Are In a State of Insurrection': Deep Inequality and Macron's Dedication to Elites Fuel Yellow Vest Uprising in France
Kelvin Reese | 07 December, 2018, 07:11

Paris police asked dozens of shop and restaurant owners around the Champs Elysees and Bastille areas to close on Saturday and requested local authorities in 15 areas around the capital to remove anything in the streets that could be used as projectiles.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told senators that the government will deploy "exceptional" security measures for the protests in Paris and elsewhere, with additional new forces on top of the 65,000 security officers already in place.

Pressure has been mounting on the government after protests degenerated into the worst street clashes in central Paris for decades.

Two truck driver unions have also called an indefinite sympathy strike to begin Sunday night, and the protests have spread to dozens of schools nationwide as students denounce tougher university entrance requirements.

Jacline Mouraud, one of the self-proclaimed spokespeople for the disparate yellow vest movement, told the AP that Macron's concession "comes much too late, unfortunately".

The French premier says the country's government is entirely abandoning a fuel tax hike that was previously only suspended for six months following violent protests.

A soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier, scheduled for Saturday in Paris, was postponed after police said they couldn't guarantee security there and at protests simultaneously.

The protests began last month with motorists upset over the fuel tax hike, but have grown to encompass a range of complaints, with protesters claiming that Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people.

Almost 280 high schools were disrupted, 45 of which were blocked, in protests across France on Thursday, with more than 700 students detained by police, an interior ministry source told AFP.

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Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Tuesday urged "responsible" protesters not to come to the capital after crowds ran amok last Saturday, burning more than 200 cars, vandalising shops and leaving the Arc de Triomphe daubed in graffiti. The protest started online, as petitions were passed around and workers posted videos on social media.

The rioting in Paris has anxious tourists, prompted the cancellation of four French league soccer matches this weekend around the country, and damaged the local economy at the height of the holiday shopping season. The former investment banker, who has pushed pro-business economic reforms to make France more competitive globally, is accused of being the "president of the rich" and of being estranged from the working classes.

Their demands are diverse and include lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper energy costs, better retirement provisions and even Macron's resignation.

He doesn't face re-election until 2022 and his party has a strong majority in parliament, but his political opponents are increasingly vocal and plan a no-confidence vote in the government next week. "Everything has been fenced off, several times".

Since returning from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron has either remained in his palace residence or else shied away from speaking publicly about the protests that have created his biggest political crisis since taking office last May.

"They hope we'll now go home but we're not going to move", said Lionel Rambeaux, a 41-year-old welder manning a fuel depot blockade outside Le Mans in western France.

She accused the government of "agri-bashing" by imposing new regulations such as requiring farmers to declare when they use glyphosate, a weed killer suspected by some scientists of causing cancer.

"That's something else", Rozey said.

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