Tension in France: On the eve of another mass strike, Macron courts unions while attacking the left

If the first eight days of protest against the pension reform took place without incident, since last day 16 violence has been installed in the country (REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol) (PASCAL ROSSIGNOL /)

An outstretched hand to the unions and a strong hand with the left oppositionwhich he accuses of inciting street violence, is the position of the French president, Emmanuel Macronfaced with the political crisis on the eve of the tenth day of demonstrations and strikes against his pension reform.

The head of state met his troops at the Élysée on Monday, whom he encouraged to negotiate with the unions in search of a way out of the equation in which the country is entrenched, that of trying to end the protests without withdrawing their disputed reform.

The union leaders do not seem willing for now to reduce the pressure, in view of the good reception that their rallies are having, which equal in mobilization the most numerous registered in this country.

Last Thursday, on the first day of protest after the adoption of the text without a parliamentary vote, they took to the streets 3.5 million people, according to his accounts, slightly more than a million, according to those of the Executive, in both cases at the level of the record that had been achieved on March 7.

Tomorrow will be a good opportunity to demonstrate that this mobilization is still intact and that, while waiting for the pension reform to be endorsed by the Constitutional CouncilThey do not want to give the president a truce.

For now in transport, one of the best thermometers to measure the incidence of the strike, monitoring seems less important than last Tuesday, although rail traffic will be greatly disturbed and the airports of Orly, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux will see a 20% fewer planes.

But in parallel to the strikes and demonstrations, which Macron considers legitimate, the country is waiting for the violence that has begun to settle in them, which have served as cross-attack material between the Government and the opposition.

The President targeted the leftist France Insoumise by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whom he accused of weaving “a political project that tries to delegitimize the reasonable order, the institutions and their instruments.”

“The next stage will be to delegitimize the Constitutional Constitution,” Macron said, according to what some of the attendees at the meeting with his hard core told, including, in addition to the current Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, and one of his predecessors, Edouard Philippe. .

Violence escalates

A protester walks past burning garbage cans during a protest in Paris (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
A protester walks past burning garbage containers during a protest in Paris (AP Photo/Lewis Joly) (Lewis Joly/)

The scenes of violence that took place last week in Paris and in some cities of the country have permeated public opinion, which recalled the harshest incidents that throughout 2019 caused the yellow vests, a radicalism that ended up making them lose the support of the street.

The incidents ended with 457 arrests and 441 injured police officers, a situation that was replicated this Saturday during an environmental demonstration against artificial reservoirs for agricultural irrigation.

The extreme left maintains that Macron is once again betting on letting violence take over the demonstrations to discredit the object of his fight.

The Government’s response was once again an “unprecedented” police deployment in front of the demonstration tomorrow Tuesday, with 13,000 agents, a thousand more than last Thursday, as announced today by the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin.

“We have detected very important risks against public order,” said the minister at a press conference, who indicated that they have detected 2,000 far-left radical individuals, some from abroad, willing to put “state institutions” in check.

If the first eight days of protest against the pension reform took place without incident, since last day 16 violence has been installed in the country, said the minister, who indicated that in that period 128 public buildings have been attacked, 114 parliamentary offices vandalized and 2,200 voluntary fires have been registered.

Like Macron, Darmanin focused on the left, which he accused of not firmly condemning violence against the police, which, he said, “helps to legitimize it.”

The tension continues at high levels and, in parallelthe president’s popularity continues to plummet. The latest poll, published by RTL radio, ensures that it has fallen six points and that only 28% of the population now considers its action positive, its lowest level since November 2018, in the early stages of the yellow vests.

The Louvre closes in protest against the reform

Cultural industry workers demonstrate outside the Louvre museum (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Cultural industry workers demonstrate outside the Louvre museum (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Christophe Ena/)

He Louvre Museum in Paris was closed to the public on Monday as its workers took part in a wave of protests in France against unpopular government plans to reform the pension system.

Dozens of Louvre employees blocked the entrance, prompting the museum to announce that it would be temporarily closed.

Protesters carried banners and flags in front of the famous Louvre pyramid, where President Emmanuel Macron celebrated his 2017 presidential victory. They demanded the repeal of the new pension law.

The entertainment, media and culture branch of the CGT union tweeted an image of the aged Mona Lisa and with a wrinkled face, accompanied by the legend: “64 No!”.

Some tourists were stoic in the face of the artistic blockade.

“If you strongly believe that this will bring any change… There are many other things we can see in Paris,” said Britney Tate, a 29-year-old doctoral student from California.

Instead, others who had traveled thousands of kilometers expressed their inconvenience for not being able to access the famous museum.

“We’re going to honor your strike tomorrow, but to do this today, it’s just heartbreaking,” said Karma Carden, a tourist from Fort Myers, Florida. “We knew that Versailles was not going to be open because of the protest, but we knew that the Louvre was open.” “I understand why you’re upset, but (it’s wrong) to do this to people from other parts of the world who have traveled from those parts of the world for this and paid thousands of dollars,” she added.

Nearly three weeks of strike impact French refinery operations

The Port-Jerome-sur-Seine refinery (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)
The Port-Jerome-sur-Seine refinery (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol) (PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/)

The protests against the French government’s pension reform lasted on Monday until its twentieth day and at least six of the seven refineries in France were closed or operating at reduced capacity, while the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals were blocked.

Production has been curtailed at TotalEnergies’ Gonfreville plant and Exxon Mobil’s Port Jerome-Gravenchon complex due to strikes, while two other refineries are operating at reduced capacity and two more are offline for repairs.

A spokesman for Petroineos, which operates France’s seventh refinery at Lavera, said it had no information on whether production was halted at its site.

The largest refineries in France, gonfreville and Port Jeromelocated in the north of the country, can process around 240,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and can supply the Ile-de-France region, where the capital Paris is located.

The Gonfreville refinery produces aviation kerosene fuel used by local airports, which have reported difficulties in recent weeks due to lack of supplies.

A spokesperson for that’s it said Friday the company was forced to halt production at its Port Jerome refinery following the total blockade of crude oil deliveries from the Le Havre terminal which began on March 20.

The refinery is expected to return to production as soon as supplies from Le Havre resume and the strike has ended. However, the restart of the Port Jerome plant will take several weeks, they added.

(With information from EFE and Reuters)

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