The Yellow Vest protests which have gripped France for a fourth week – with an estimated 136,000 protesters marching in France yesterday – have been an “economic catastrophe” according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, calling the situation “a crisis” for both democracy and society, reports the BBC.
A staggering 1,939 people were arrested on Saturday across France – 1082 of them in Paris alone, including 52 women and 95 minors, while 264 people were injured in the anti-government protests which have seen widespread looting and violence. Most of the suspects were arrested for “acts of violence against a person in the custody of the public authority” , “possession of explosive products,” or “carrying weapons,” according to BFMTV.
The 10,000 or so Yellow Vests who took to the streets of Paris on Saturday smashed windows, burned cars and looted shops.
“There was much more damage yesterday than a week ago” due to the fact that the protests covered a larger area of the city, according to deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire – though he noted that there were fewer injuries vs. last week.
While the dust is still settling from Saturday’s protest, it’s clear the damage to the economy has been severe.
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On Friday, the French retail federation told Reuters news agency that retailers had lost about 1bn euros ($1.1bn; £900m) since the protests first began on 17 November.
Mr Le Maire said last week, before the most recent protests, that the restaurant trade had declined by between 20% and 50%.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Paris say that riots have caused millions of pounds of damage.
There are concerns that the protests could lead to a drop in tourism. Paris was visited by a record number of tourists in 2017 – more than 40 million, the Paris Tourism Office said last month. –BBC