Our man in Paris is, of
course, Ric Erickson, editor and publisher of MetropoleParis (and advisor to Just Above Sunset and As Seen from
Just Above Sunset).
Here’s the exclusive.
The Week's Manif of the Day
Paris, Saturday, 5. June: - The problem was that there were two other major demos today. All three were in eastern Paris, and all started or ended at Bastille or Replublique. Result - many people went to wrong demo at wrong time and place.
Yes, it is true - Paris can host the US President and hold three major demos without anarchy breaking out.
The anti-war demonstration began at Bastille at 5 pm, and set off to march [the fairly short distance]
to Republique. When I arrived at Bastille shortly after 5 the place was far from
full; it almost looked like a very minor demo. The marchers were loitering in
the Boulevard Beaumarchais. I walked up it and it started, but it went very slowly.
This allowed many lost
Parisians to 'find' it. Thousands streamed towards Bastille from Republique,
often making the march seem as if it was milling around in a clot. Many more
joined the tail end at Bastille. When I walked north I passed a small demo, but
when I walked back I passed one that had grown considerably in a hour. The police
estimate for all of France - there were demos in many other French cities - was 50,000, but organizers estimated 200,000. Also, because of today's timing, it would have been possible to have taken part in
all three demos.
Union presence was strong,
especially CGT, FO, LO, LCR and Sud, plus there were human rights groups. There
was a 'hands off Cuba' group, and pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Human rights
in Palestine are linked to human rights in Iraq. The tail end of the march contained
many red flags, carried by the leftist party PCF, and ultra-leftist LO and LCR parties, the Trotslyists. (These last two are fielding common candidates for the European elections next Sunday. They might score better than the PCF.)
The mood seemed to be - as it often is - fairly jolly. What better way to spend Saturday afternoon than to march a bit to denounce the 'hyper-puissance,'
the United States? Many of the marchers have real problems with their own government,
so the opportunity to march for the world's general well-being was refreshing.
A lady I talked to complained
about the start location and time mix-up. She had been at Republique and got
into the march to protest against the 'reform' of the Securite Sociale (Secu) by mistake.
She said her pension was okay so she wasn't worried about the government wrecking it.
She perked up a lot when I guessed that a lot more people were joining the end of the parade. This turned out to be true too.
Near the end there were many more red flags. It looked like the
PCF has got itself some new ones. They were very red. New were the Cuban protestors. They seemed to have new flags
too. The whole thing was followed by punkers with techno music vans. They didn't have any flags. They are beamed out with the noise
they have - they are probably unaware of Iraq or Palestine.
The police presence was
discrete. Three or four officers from the police prefecture were managing the
parade, and that was about it. Radio news and TV-news covered it, with pretty
reduced crews. It was featured on the evening's main news show, along with video
from Marseille and a couple of other cities.
Jacques and George had a
news conference late in the afternoon. Jacques is a professional talker, so he
can make things seem to be okay - yatta yatta - wave the hands around; he's animated.
George sat there looking like he wished he was home in Crawford. The 'official'
word about it was confused, so I guess even the diplomatic French had some problem putting a good spin on it. I expected they would have been very fake-jolly; but I guess George couldn't, wouldn't, play along. Maybe the Pope said he was misbehaving.
Out in Normandy, in beautiful
weather, the vets and everybody else did seem to be having a good time. There's
all kinds of shows going on - including France-2 TV with its 'longest night' tonight, beginning at midnight, going non-stop
That's it from Paris.
Bonsoir à tous