A City Set Ablaze


Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

For the past weeks, the French capital has been set ablaze by a string of violent riots in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax increase. So far, Paris has seen five protests in addition to a plethora of smaller protests occurring throughout the rest of the country. Despite Emmanuel Macron’s cancellation of the tax and promise to negotiate with the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protestors, the situation in the City of Light (and France at large) seems to worsen.

The origin of the riots can be traced back to the Yellow Vest Movement, which began in November of 2018 in response to President Macron’s policy of an increased fuel tax. Despite Macron’s best interests (to reduce automobile emissions and combat global warming), the president’s history of pro-business policy making prompted resistance to what many in France see as yet another infringement on their economic well-being. During his presidency, Macron has passed various economic reforms through rather lackluster means, such as reducing the power of the cherished workers unions and ending special benefits enjoyed by rail workers. In addition, Macron ended France’s notoriously high wealth tax in order to attract foreign investments. Through such actions, Macron has garnered much animosity from the working people of France, thus culminating in the recent string of riots.

In order to quell the riots, Macron has agreed to meet with the leaders of the Yellow Vest Movement and listen to their grievances. In addition, the French President cancelled his unpopular fuel tax and promised to increase the minimum wage by €100 a month. However, to many, Macron’s attempts to appease the leaders of the movement prove insufficient. Insted, many of the protestors call for a complete change of regime – whether it be through violent or peaceful means.

The recent protests have caused much chaos throughout France. So far, the protests have lead to four deaths and 1,220 arrests nationwide. Rioting during the protests also lead to considerable damage to businesses and infrastructure, with the sight of shattered windows and overturned cars burning in the street not uncommon in some of Paris’ most notable locations. If not dealt with carefully, Macron may see his administration and the well-being of the French people in jeopardy.