Paris Isn’t Really Burning

The age for retirement in France is 60, but was recently changed to 62. This caused a series of protests and strikes, which is a good way to avoid class. It’s a pretty sweet time to be a rowdy kid in Paris, and even better in the suburbs. I talked to my Parisian friend Sophian about what’s going on there, expecting things to be all anarchy and end of days—turns out the French are just rollerblading and getting days off. Here’s his description of the demonstrations, in the Frenchest English possible.

Me- What’s going on with all these protests in Paris?

Sophian- Today or during the hard days?

The hard days.

I can tell you there were no major violence in Paris, only massive demonstration and strikes. It was not like 2005 riots.

Aren’t people burning cars?

No, no cars burnt, at least not massively. The city is paralyzed.

Isn’t there any violence?

No violence in Paris. There is in LILLE. Students joined the strikes and people who wants just to kick some cops were there. Paris is affected by those troubles, but no violence. There is a rumor that is saying that infiltrated policemen were the most brutal demonstrators. They done that in purpose to make this movement unpopular.

Done what?

Destroyed some shops, and a bus stop. Take a look of this video. There will be a massive demonstration tomorrow. I’ll go there, but don’t imagine that it’s Bastille Day. There’s no civil war in Paris just a LOT of demonstration. And if you wanna find something exiting for your article, I’ll be forced to burn a car …

The next day:

How was it?

“Light”. It was not as big as I expected and no violence.

Do you think the protests will work? When will they stop?

The day the law was voted the mobilization was going weaker, plus we are in holidays, which means less and less strikers. This fucking government won the battle, I guess. The game is over.

So the strikes will stop?

Days after days yup, and quickly. I went to the demonstration by subway. If the Parisian subway works…that means everything’s works. Only exception: airports. 30% of flight will be canceled and in Orly ariport it will reach a 50% rate! Nothing exiting…

Why did the airlines get so involved if its a retirement issue?

Everybody is concerned by this law and the most powerful syndicates are those which are involved with the way the infrastructure.

Keep everyone on rollerblades then?

When everything is blocked people take a day off, or if they can, they go to work by bike or if they have fuel, car. I went to work by rollerblades. But the whole country is not totally blocked for more than 2 days.

Why not?

I dunno, I’ve never seen Paris totally block for more than 2 days. Plus, if the government wants, they can force people to work. If the workers don’t cooperate, they can be thrown in jail for 5 years. No one will forget this in the 2012 election. Sarkozy is nearly fucked if he wants to be re-elected.

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