Hi from Paris,
Many of you have written to me to make sure I am okay as the tv reports showed a Paris out of control and burning. I am fine. The protests, the demonstrations and rioting have been in the centre of Paris where tourist attractions are and the wealthiest streets are. It has affected my ability to travel around Paris. Yesterday, we were warned ahead of time that forty metro stations would be closed. And, as a caution, all tourists sites were closed, all museums closed and the department stores on the Grands Boulevards were closed.
What started as a protest against a tax on diesel fuel has now escalated to a full-blown rage at the cost of living in France, hatred of President Macron as a president of only the rich and a general overflowing of suppressed anger at the things the average French person cannot control
I have friends on both sides. A number of my french friends are disgusted with the Gillets Jaunes. They feel they do not appreciate all the services that they do get for ‘free’. The French pay one of the highest taxes in Europe and those taxes are what support the French Healthcare System which is remarkable, maintenance of roads and highways–they are always up to date, and many days and evenings during the year when the average person can go to museums and monuments for free.
I also have friends who support the Gilets Jaunes. They also believe that this protest has been hijacked by the hooligans and the far-right as well as the infamous ‘black bloc’. Many believe that the Gilets Jaunes want a peaceful protest but as one french worker said, “if we protest peacefully, we get ignored. If there is violence, they hear us and things change.” (that is not an exact quote).
For those of you who want to read a lot more detail, I’ve included articles from the NYTimes, The guardian and France24.
No one knows what will happen next. Macron is supposed to talk to the country early this coming week. Is he going to stick to his revolutionary plan or will he have listened and be willing to work with the French? And interesting sideline is the comparison to the 1968 student riots that brought Paris to a complete standstill. “In an interview with the Observer, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the leaders of the May 1968 student riots and one of Macron’s friends and advisers, said the president and the government needed a “complete reset …and a tax revolution” to answer protesters’ demands.”
Thank you all for your concern,