Local businesses were caught in the crossfire of the violent protests in Paris.
The iconic Champs-Élysées in the city of love was set ablaze Saturday as protests surrounding fuel tax became violent. The mile-long avenue, home to some of the world’s fanciest hotels, became a war zone as demonstrators built barricades and set things on fire. One protester was run over by a car while over 200 were injured, including five police officers.
Diesel fuel prices have gone up 16 percent this year, making the product just as expensive as petrol. First put into place by former President Hollande, the taxes were meant to promote cleaner forms of transportation, like electric cars. Reports say the price increase is because of a jump in the wholesale price of oil. The Brent crude oil increased by more than 20 percent earlier this year, going from close to $60 a barrel to a high price of $86.07 in early October. While that’s a reason for French taxpayers to be angry, their anger is geared towards someone else: President Macron.
Macron has been openly criticized for extending the environmental policies set under François Hollande’s government. Taxes were increased by 8 centimes last January on diesel, and by 4 centimes on petrol. Tax on diesel are set to go up by another 6.4 centimes in 2019, and by 2.9 centimes for petrol, following a trend of under-taxation of diesel in France for years. “We can’t stand Macron’s taxes anymore. It’s too much. We couldn’t make ourselves heard through political parties or trade unions, so we had to do something,” protest organizer Thierry Paul Valette said.
French protestors were seen wearing bright yellow utility vests, which are required to be worn by law in the presence of all motor vehicles. This helps with the visibility of motorists should they be asked to get out of their cars due to an emergency or mechanical issue. Close to 280,000 people participated in over 2,000 demonstrations. As of yesterday, the United States Department of State hasn’t issued any travel advisories or airlines stopped travel to Paris.