An elderly woman has died after being struck by a tear gas canister that smashed through her apartment window during France’s nationwide demonstrations.
- On Monday, French students and paramedics joined the fray, clashing with riot police in Paris, while lines of ambulances sought to block access to the National Assembly.
Agence France Presse reports the “yellow vest” protesters have also blocked access to a major fuel depot in the nation’s south in what is now week three of anti-government protests, which led to major riots in Paris over the weekend.
- A new survey by French broadcaster RTL shows widespread support for the action, but not of the violence.
- French President Emmanuel Macron was taken to the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, the scene of the worst violence, upon his return from the G20 summit in Argentina.
- The spreading protests are not aligned with any political party, but share a solidarity against a raft of Macron’s policies, which they feel only benefit the rich.
An elderly woman died after being struck by a tear gas canister that smashed through her apartment window during the third weekend of France’s almost nationwide demonstrations.
The 80-year-old woman from the southern French city of Marseille was hit as she was closing window shutters, during a third straight weekend of protests against the rising costs of living, which many blame on the the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
“The woman was taken to hospital on Saturday, but died during an operation after suffering shock,” the BBC reported.
Three people have died since the protests began on November 14, according to the BBC, citing French police sources, and more than 260 have been wounded. More than 400 have been arrested amid what many believe is the worst civil unrest in France for a generation.
The Prefect of Police, the police unit attached to the Ministry of the Interior, said that 37 000 police officers, 30,000 gendarmes – military police, and 30,000 firefighters have been mobilized throughout the country.
#1erDecembre 37 000 policiers, 30 000 gendarmes et 30 000 sapeurs-pompiers étaient mobilisés sur tout le territoire pour sécuriser les #manifestations, rétablir l'ordre, éteindre les incendies et porter secours. pic.twitter.com/gHbvsnIvku
— Ministère de l'Intérieur (@Interieur_Gouv) December 1, 2018
A new survey by Radio RTL shows that 72% per cent of French citizens support the protests (although 82% said they abhor the violence).
Those numbers stand in pretty stark contrast to President Macron’s own approval rating as president, which is now down below 30%.
On Monday, French paramedics joined the fray, clashing with riot police in Paris, while lines of ambulances sought to block access to the National Assembly, the French lower house of parliament.
The ambulances formed a convoy and cordoned off the bridge over the river Seine leading to the iconic symbol of the French revolution.
Drivers and paramedics reportedly clashed with lines of riot police both outside the National Assembly and at the Place de la Concorde.
Reuters reports that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe met with opposition leaders on Monday, but an unsatisfied Laurent Wauquiez, leader of the centre-right Les Republicains party, accused the government of Emmanuel Macron of totally misreading the fury raging across France.
“The one decision every Frenchman is waiting for: scrapping (fuel) tax hikes,” Wauquiez said.
But the protests that began over the rising price of fuel have morphed into a broad coalition of disparate sectors of French society, sharing a common anger at higher living costs.
By Monday, Central European Time (CET) the protests had spread to around a hundred schools nationwide, AFP reports, as students joined the broader protests to express their own frustrations from weakening job prospects to newly implemented university entrance requirements.
In Nice, almost 1,000 students chanted “Macron resign!” and according to AFP reporter at the scene, many have taken to wearing the Gilets jaune or fluorescent high-visibility “yellow vests” that have given the growing movement its name.
The high-visibility vests are required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
As diesel prices continue to rise – up by almost 25% since the new taxes came into effect in late 2017 – the protests have now also begun to bite into the French economy.
Protestors are targeting fuel supplies, with French national producer Total reporting that several of its filling stations are now out of fuel.
Reuters has reported mass tourism cancellations, while the biggest and brightest French brands on the stock market began to tank as investors fled names like supermarket giant Carrefour, hotel chain Accor, and the national carrier Air France.
Even on the French Caribbean island if Reunion, local media are reporting protests met by tear gas and riot police.
Upon his return from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron was taken to the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, the scene of the worst violence over the weekend.
Demonstrators had earlier written in graffiti on the historic paris monument: “We have the right to revolt,” “Macron resign,” and “The yellow vests will triumph!”
According to Radio Europe 1 several dozens of cars were torched, buildings set aflame, and shop windows smashed while riot-gear clad officers set up a perimeter and began firing tear gas and water cannons into the crowds.
Macron toured the devastated Champs-Elysee and the Arc de Triomphe – shattered glass and shop fronts, roads ripped up, the shells of burned out cars.
The statue of the Marianne, a symbol of French freedom and Resistance was reportedly hacked at and vandalised by the gilets jaunes who entered the Arc de Triomphe monument during clashes with police.
It is thought the cost of the rioting, the worst in Paris since 1968, may already be in the hundreds of millions of euros.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie, told the Associated Press that “the impact on the French economy was serious,” adding that parts of the French economy have already taken a hit with sales in some sectors falling away between 15 to 25%.
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