Fuel and Fury and France

This morning the French government announced that it’s suspending the hike in fuel prices. It seems unlikely that this will assuage the boiling anger on the streets, anger that stems from a whole host of other things as well as the rise in fuel prices. Following this morning’s announcement, this afternoon I was down in our nearest village of any size, which is a ten minute drive away and straddles the Vienne river. The village is quite large and the traffic used to be terrible, because the autoroute between Limoges and Angouleme ran right through the centre of it. About five years ago they built a bypass (bliss!). The bypass intersects with a roundabout on the outskirts of the village before continuing on the old road to Angouleme. This roundabout has been picketed by the gilets jaunes for weeks now (remember, this is quite a remote part of France). This afternoon the gilets jaunes completely blocked the roundabout, causing horrendous traffic jams on the autoroute and forcing me to turn around and drive back into the village.

I would say that what’s happening in France at the moment goes beyond the civil unrest of 1968, because the 1968 protests began with the students and later spread to factory workers. The gilets jaunes encompass a much wider range of people and the protests are taking place all over France, even in my quiet neck of the woods. I seem to find myself now living in a country that’s undergoing a revolution. The amazing thing is that thus far only four people have been killed in these protests…

An 80-year-old woman who was hit in the face by a projectile as she closed the shutters of her apartment in Marseille during rioting on Saturday became the fourth person to die in the violence

The ‘projectile’ is said to be a rubber bullet, although I can’t confirm that. Apparently it’s all going to kick off big time again this coming weekend. If it does I think I can safely call this a revolution, a revolution that has contained totally surreal moments…

And totally brutal moments…

The gilets jaunes are just the latest manifestation of large scale protests and riots that have been going on in France since January 2016 (almost three years ago now), when the plebs started protesting against the proposed new employment laws which had been put forward the previous September by the Hollande government. They were also protesting against the state of emergency which had been introduced after the Paris ‘terror attacks’ in November 2015. The protest against the state of emergency culminated in a general strike on 31st March 2016. The civil unrest has been going on ever since.

Who knows where it’s all going to end..?

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