Fishermen and Farmers Go On Rampage in France Over Oil Prices
The majority of the ports
in France, from Brittany down to the Mediterranean, decided to
re-launch their strike again yesterday, over their inability to
pay the 29% diesel price increase since December. The fishermen
are demanding that fuel be no higher than EU40 cents a liter, and
not 75 cents as it is now. Under pressure, the French government
decided to give 310 million euros in short-term aid, but has to
first negotiate with the Brussels EU Commission to make this aid
"euro-compatible;" i.e., make sure it is not ruled unfair
competition with other European farmers. Barnier has therefore
reintroduced this aid in the category of "emergency aid"
permitted, in the Commission's jargon, to people as
"individualized social aid." At this point Barnier is still
negotiating with the Commission. Obviously, this is just a
short-term band-aid, which is why the fisherman have continued to
As of yesterday, the strike was restarted in the majority of
the ports. In the Channel and the Mediterranean area, and
including La Rochelle--one of Europe's major fishing ports--more
than 10 ports have gone on a 48-hour strike. In Brittany, the
strike spread like wildfire, with ports like Guilvinec, the first
artisanal fishing port of France, and Saint Brieuc heading the
action. Some of the tactics involve blocking highways and oil
refineries. Fishermen and farmers blocked a four-lane highway
yesterday between Rennes and Saint Brieux, and in the Normandy
port of Le Havre, actions are underway to block the Total
refinery and other oil depots in the area.
The strike has a desperate and dangerous character as well.
In some areas, the fishermen are pouring fuel on the fish; in
other areas of Brittany, fisherman have carried out raids against
companies importing fish from the developing sector, in the form
of blocks which are then used for food products in Europe. Cite
Marine, one the main companies doing this, and some of its
subsidiaries, were all targetted with these operations, with
fishermen destroying tons of frozen fish and showing it to others
as a war trophy.
Following a meeting over the weekend in Ancona, Italy
fishermen from four countries--Portugal, Italy, France and
Spain--decided to extend the strike to their own countries, and
are considering a demonstration in Brussels, on Friday.