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France Deploys Security Forces as Farmers’ Protest Escalates

France Deploys Security Forces as Farmers' Protest Intensifies
French ministry orders security forces around Paris after threats from farmers and soup hurling at ‘Mona Lisa’

France Deploys Security Forces as Farmers’ Protest Intensifies


Summary:

  • France’s interior ministry deploys a significant number of security forces around Paris in response to escalating tensions as farmers threaten to march towards the capital, demanding better remuneration and protection against cheap imports.
  • Farmers, primarily from the Lot-et-Garonne region, intensify protests by using tractors to set up road blockades across France. The Rural Co-ordination Union plans to mobilize tractors toward the Rungis International Market, while the country’s two largest farmers’ unions declare their intention to “siege” Paris by blocking major roads.
  • Amidst the agricultural unrest, climate activists target the Louvre Museum, hurling soup at the protective glass of the Mona Lisa. The incident underscores diverse societal dissatisfactions, bringing attention to the intersection of environmental concerns and challenges faced by farmers.

Paris, France The city of Paris is on edge as France’s interior ministry authorizes a substantial deployment of security forces in response to escalating tensions spurred by the threat of angry farmers marching towards the capital. This heightened security follows an unusual incident where climate activists hurled soup at the glass protecting the world-renowned Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre Museum.

Farmers’ Struggle for Recognition

French farmers are intensifying their efforts to draw attention to longstanding grievances and unmet demands. At the core of their discontent is the call for better remuneration for their produce, a reduction in bureaucratic red tape, and safeguards against the influx of cheap imports that undermine their livelihoods.

The Rural Co-ordination Union, based in the Lot-et-Garonne region, where the protests originated, is spearheading the movement. Their plan involves mobilizing tractors on Monday towards the Rungis International Market, a critical supplier of fresh food to Paris and its surrounding regions.

Security Measures Implemented

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin convened a high-stakes security meeting to strategize the government’s response to potential road blockades around Paris. In an official statement, Darmanin ordered security forces to take proactive measures to prevent any blockade of the Rungis International Market and Paris airports. Moreover, any attempt by a convoy of farmers to enter the city will be met with a strict ban.

Farmers’ Unrest Spreads Across France

France Deploys Security Forces as Farmers' Protest Intensifies
Earlier Sunday, two climate activists hurled soup at the glass protecting the “Mona Lisa” and shouted slogans advocating for a sustainable food system.

The farmers’ discontent is not limited to verbal protests; they have been actively utilizing their tractors to set up road blockades, causing significant disruptions to traffic throughout France. In a symbolic act of defiance, they have also dumped agricultural waste at the gates of government offices, underscoring the urgency they feel in having their concerns addressed.

The two largest farmers’ unions in France issued a joint statement declaring their intent to block major roads leading to Paris, effectively placing the city “under siege” starting Monday afternoon. The unions are flexing their collective muscle, demanding that the government not only hears but acts decisively on their concerns.

Climate Activist Incident at the Louvre

Amidst the farmer protests, Paris witnessed an unexpected incident when two climate activists targeted the Louvre Museum. The activists, in a display of discontent with the current state of the agricultural industry, hurled soup at the glass protecting Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.

In a video posted on social media, the activists can be heard shouting slogans, advocating for a sustainable food system, and drawing attention to the challenges faced by farmers.

“What’s the most important thing?” they exclaimed. “Art, or the right to a healthy and sustainable food? Our farming system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” they added.

The Paris police promptly responded, arresting the two individuals involved in the incident. This unusual act of protest highlights the diverse forms of dissatisfaction within French society and the intersections between environmental concerns and agricultural challenges.

The government’s Response and the prime minister’s Visit

The French government, under pressure from the ongoing protests, announced a series of measures on Friday. However, these measures fell short of fully addressing the farmers’ demands. The government pledged to “dramatically simplify” certain technical procedures and committed to the gradual elimination of diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who assumed office recently, visited a farm in the central region of Indre-et-Loire. In acknowledging the complexities faced by farmers, Attal stated, “On the one side, we say we need quality, and on the other side, we want ever-lower prices.”

He emphasized the need for comprehensive solutions in the short, middle, and long term, recognizing the vital role farmers play in the nation’s well-being.

Attal also revealed that the government is considering “additional” measures to address what he referred to as “unfair competition” from countries with different production rules that are importing food into France.

The prime minister assured that “other decisions” addressing farmers’ concerns would be made in the coming weeks. The situation remains fluid, and the government is navigating a delicate balance between meeting the demands of the agricultural sector and broader economic considerations.

In the midst of these developments, according to Southwest Farmer the eyes of the nation are on Paris as security forces brace for potential disruptions and farmers gear up for a symbolic showdown.

The outcome of this standoff will not only shape the immediate future of French agriculture but may also set a precedent for how governments respond to the economic challenges faced by farmers worldwide.


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