“Les gilets jaunes” in France continue to protest



Les gilets jaunes march in protest

Jessica Polito

For the past couple months, many French citizens have been protesting in Paris. What began as a non-violent protest against rising fuel prices has turned into a tumultuous streak of violence as a way of voicing complaints against the government. The protesters are called “les gilets jaunes,” which is French for “the yellow vests.”

At first, the French government didn’t say anything about their impending decision to raise fuel prices. After further protest, the government responded and decided not to raise prices. While their complaints were addressed, les gilets jaunes were not appeased. The riots continued and evolved into many different forms of protest such as looting, fires, and marches/vandalism at monuments. The overall theme of the protests evolved as well, and the French were protesting in order to attack the government, President Macron, and the way that the government controls power.

Students from last year’s SWHS French exchange program had a lot to say on the topic. One French student, Jeanne Rabaud, remarks that, “I think it’s a cocktail of all the anger from the quiet people, the people who suffer and just don’t say anything until they start to scream.” She explains that the situation is “very controversial. People don’t trust the government. The relations between the government and the population in France have always been complicated, but now it’s more than ever. Even with the improvement (no increase in fuel price), people are still angry because it’s not enough.” Another student, Antoine Delezenne, argues that these people cannot be appeased. “They never accept anything,” he says of the people who say the government needs to change. He continues to argue that “the causes which they defend are good because it’s true that there is a lot of inequality in France, but I think that poor people in France aren’t really poor because they have free medical care and free education.”

While many may share the beliefs of the gilet jaune, many also argue that their actions are far too violent. “They are too violent and this way will not change things,” says student Manon Bossis. Others argue that the protests need to end. Student Thibaud Coldeboeuf expresses that “They shouldn’t protest, the government did what they asked for, now it’s over.” The violence has been going on for weeks, and police have been fighting to keep the riots peaceful, but failing. Rabaud wants people to know that “it seems like everyone in France thinks the same way, but absolutely not. People that represent the gilet jaune can go very far with their words. Of course a lot of things have to evolve, but it has to be done in peace.”