Corsica Is a Problem?

photo: cafe village daguerre, 0300, 22 june

A café on Daguerre, open at 03:00 on Sunday.

José Bové Goes to Jail Suddenly

Paris:- Monday, 23. June 2003:- On Sunday, 6. July, voters in Corsica will go to the polls to take part in a referendum that will ask them if they want Corsica's two Départments united into one.

Specifically, voters will be asked to approve the 'proposed orientations for modifying the institutional organization of Corscia.' It will be the fourth time within the last 25 years that such a referendum has been held.

The idea seems to be to unite the two départments and have them function as a regional authority, which has more autonomy than a départment. The two existing départments and their administrations, united, would be governed - for some reason - by two territorial councils.

To convince Corsicans of the benefits of this radical administrative change, the Prime Ministerphoto: comedie italien, bush etc Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy visited the island on Saturday.

At Bastia's airport the two government ministers stood on chairs, trying to speak, while facing the usual general brawl that greets all big nobs from Paris - between the referendum's supporters, opponents, and the police.

The Italian comedy theatre that was attacked for satirizing George W Bush.

Later on, they were confronted by an organized public meeting where only 150 out of 650 chairs were filled. Outside the tent near the airport, a handful of protestors were the cause of the meeting moving inside the airport, away from TV coverage.

But in the evening, at Ajaccio, 400 supporters turned up to hear the Prime Minister at a meeting started off by one of Johnny Hallyday's golden oldies.

Apparently, the mixed receptions have already caused some doubt at the top in Paris about the wisdom of the referendum. Beside the questions of continuing to be a départment of France, or independent, there are other questions concerning the fate of the double set of civil servants, and their relationship to the much disputed 'reform' of the national retirement pension.

According to Le Parisien, Corsican nationalists are for a 'yes' vote on the government's referendum. They will get better electoral scores out of it. Anti-nationalists, therefore, are against it.

But public employees on the island, who account for 52 percent of the working population, are not wildly in favor of the government's various national 'reforms,' and their continued employment by a reduced island administration might be in doubt.

The Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, has invested eight visits to the island this year to promote 'yes' ballots. As the government's most 'popular' minister, a 'non' vote will not enhance his prestige - on the mainland.

To be fair, the present initiative is one inherited from the previous Socialist government and carried forward by the present majority of the right. The nth attempt in a quarter-centuury.

Nationally, both left and right are for a 'yes' vote in Corsica. On the island, as ever, the situation of considerably more confused, with some lefts and rights reversed, with some saying, in effect, that a 'yes' vote amounts to one 'for' the nationalists. Anti-republican, if you will.

Even after the mixed receptions on Saturday, the Prime Minister continues to believe that a visit to Corsica before the balloting, by Jacques Chirac, will be valuable.

No Spectacles, Please

The government, in order avoid creating any outrageous spectacles, sent a helicopter, squads of gendarmes, two dogs, an all-terrain pursuit motorcycle, a photographer and a videoman - to smash in José Bové's glass door at six in the morning on Sunday, handcuff him, and fly him off to jail at Villeneuve-lès-Maguelonne.

The commando action carried out on the orders of justice authorities did not prevent sympathizers from besieging the Préfecture at Rodez during the afternoon.

The blitz-like raid, launched a lively reaction from leftist political personalities, union leaders, civil rights activists, including the Syndicate de la Magistrature.

Authorities were so nervous that a prison visit by Monsieur Bové's lawyer was refused. Thephoto: bus stop Communist Party's national deputy from Sète, Francois Liberti, did manage to enter the prison to see Bové.

The anti-bad food peasant leader refused to do a deal with the state that would have allowed him liberty with an electronic bracelet, or work off the ten-month sentence with public-service work, or enjoy some other undefined form of semi-liberty.

Speaking on TV-news, the 'Garde des Sceaux' - the Minister of Justice - Dominique Perben said that José Bové had been charged with five offenses in all - found innocent of some and convicted of others. The prisoner has already served 44 days in prison for the deconstruction of a McDonald's unit at Millau.

The outraged remained outraged. The lawyer for the Peasant's Confederation was quoted as saying that there was 'no arrest warrant.' Adding that the commando operation was 'illegal,' he said a charge would be laid against the authorities responsible, for 'violation de domicile.'

The present incarceration is for the affair of the destruction of genetically-modified colza plants. Yesterday evening, 400 supporters were gathered outside the prison at Villeneuve-lès-Maguelonne, facing a large number of anxious gendarmes.

According to the Minister of Justice, it is possible that José Bové will benefit from the Bastille Day grace, traditionally accorded to some short-time prisoners by France's président.

Right Wing On a Roll

After over a month of 'Mardi Noirs' and some 'Jeudi Noirs' involving many one-day strikes and many street demonstrations by millions of French residents against government plans to 'reform' the retirement scheme, and plans to 'decentralize' France's civil servants - and four long weekends - the country has returned to what passes for normality.

But 'normal' times are fll of surprises too, so it was with some wonder that TV-news showed a street demonstration a week ago Sunday involving supporters of the right-wing, gathered in the Place de la Concorde to protest against all the other strikes and demonstrations.


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