Protests against Emmanuel Macron's unpopular pension reform appear to have drawn violence. After the day of mobilization last Thursday, which ended with scenes of apocalyptic violence and destruction in many cities of the country, this Saturday riots have been registered again, but in this case not because of the pension reform, but during an environmental demonstration .
It was held in Sainte Soline, in the west of the country, against the construction of two mega water reservoirs for agricultural irrigation. Some 6,000 people have participated in the act, and the authorities calculate that there were about 1,000 radicals. Strong riots were already taking place before noon, with clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.
Several gendarmerie vehicles were set on fire by the violent, who, according to the authorities, have used explosive material against the agents, who were trying to disperse them with water bombs and tear gas. Le Figaro notifies at least five wounded, one of them serious.
It is as if this controversial pension law had opened the box of thunder and many radical militants had seen in France a breeding ground for their actions. For the protest this Saturday in Sainte-Soline, the police had prepared a deployment of 3,200 agents when detecting the presence of "elements that prepare violent actions outside" the mobilization. On Friday, weapons, axes, machetes and explosive material had been confiscated.
Macron warned on Friday that the authorities had seized "material of extreme violence" in Sainte-Soline and the Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, had warned of the presence of "extreme left radicals" in the protests against the pension reform. of the last days.
Today's riots occur amid strong tension in the streets against this unpopular reform, which plans to raise the retirement age from the current 62 to 64. Until now the mobilization against the law had developed peacefully, but in the last week violence has broken out.
The turning point was a week ago, when Macron decided to approve this law by decree, without going through a vote in Parliament. He wasn't sure he'd gather the necessary support. The law is opposed by seven out of 10 French and almost the entire parliamentary arc, who have seen in this decision an act of force.
Since then the tension has escalated and the situation on the streets has gotten worse. The spontaneous demonstrations of the last week ended on Thursday (the ninth day of the strike against the law called by the unions) with scenes of great violence: barricades, burning of containers and rubbish and heavy clashes between protesters and agents.
The conflict has entered a new phase of violence whose consequences are unpredictable, because it is not known how much more it can escalate. Another day of demonstrations is held on Tuesday. The headache of the forces of order are these radicals, the so-called Black Block, anti-system militants. According to the authorities, many have moved this Saturday from other areas of France, even from outside the country, as some with Italian passports have been located.
Bertrand Cavalier, division general of the gendarmerie specialized in maintaining order, explained to the BFMTV channel that these urban guerrilla specialists "are equipped", "are capable of killing" and use explosives and artifice mortars against the agents. "The instructions for the forces of order are to keep cool, but the adversaries are numerous and there is an imbalance between the equipment used by the agents and those used by these elements," he explained. He has said that law enforcement "are targeted" by these groups.
This occurs while the actions of the police in protests against the pension law are being increasingly questioned, especially after a recording was released in which several agents of the brigade for the repression of motorized violent action were heard. (Brav-M) threatening and intimidating several detainees. The recording has been released by the newspaper Le Monde.
The Paris police chief, Laurent Nuñez, has condemned the acts and has requested an investigation by the Police Inspectorate (IGPN). There are another ten open to determine if there was police abuse. Nuñez has ruled out the dissolution of this brigade, as requested, since "this unit was absolutely essential" to contain the violence.
Testimonies are being published, such as that of a journalist who tells Libération how he was attacked by agents of this brigade. Another militant of the railway union has requested vision in one eye due to the impact, the union assures, of a grenade. The SUD-Raid union has criticized the government "for its strategy of repression of the social movement to try to appease it."
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