Photo: RT, retrieved.

All week I was nervous, making sure I ran all my new-migrant errands (get cheap winter clothes, take advantage of free tourism) before the streets went loopy. That Saturday, I locked myself in the house, watching the news on YouTube, waiting to hear screams and explosions.

This wasn’t the Paris I had been expecting.

For us Venezuelans, protests can be deeply traumatic. Memories of chaos, violence, arrests and blood. I was ready to be PTSD’d out of my mind, but the French have a different approach. For one thing, we had almost a week’s advanced notice: on a Monday, the gilets jaunes were announcing demonstrations for that Saturday. That gave everyone, including the authorities, the chance to prepare.

I only heard the wind between the trees in front of my window.

Maybe I was overreacting a bit. How could I not be, after all we went through?

I arrived in France four months ago, without a clue about the riots that were just around the corner. After going through the Caracas stress, the Parisian air was extremely refreshing; the beauty of its architecture, the colorful cafés, the underground tunnels, it all invites you to an adventure where you can actually explore your environment in less hostile fashion than what we experience in Venezuela.

Or so it was, before Paris caught on fire.

That Saturday, I locked myself in the house, watching the news on YouTube, waiting to hear screams and explosions. This wasn’t the Paris I had been expecting.

Third wave exiles face a real challenge in seeing other nation’s problems as something we need to be concerned about. You’d imagine that, with riots in the capital, walking the streets would be out of the question, with everything closed as the state of emergency passes. Well, Paris is the first tourist destination in the world and, regardless of chaos, hundreds of shops, museums and restaurants are always ready to meet the demand. In Caracas, demonstrations determined whether you’d even leave your house that day; here, the protest is reduced to specific sectors, and life flows around it.

In the second week of unrest, for example, some friends and I decided to go on a cruise party on the Seine. You know, buffet, bachata classes (for some reason the French think we Latinos love it) and two areas for dancing until four in the morning, for just ten euros, quite sweet when you come from a place where night clubs have no running water. We’d have to cross Paris from east to west, so you bet I was bracing for winter, but we didn’t see any warning sign during the whole trip. What you see on TV? Not even a distant scream for us. There were only three closed metro stations, and the train just passed through them. The only real problem we faced was my Finnish friend who couldn’t stop throwing up. The streets were calm and we walked like you would on any other day.

Even the attitude of the police is super odd for the criollo spectator; at the beginning of the clashes, they tried to be as restrained as possibledemonstrators could flood the streets around the Arch of Triumph and shout without facing a single cop. It’s like, only the presidential palace was really protected. It took the Gilet jeunes’ violence for them to actually launch tear gas; many criminals use protests as a pretext to go on gang-stuff, from generating fires, to destroying luxury stores where losses reach millions of euros. When that began, the police got really touchy, but one thing is for sure: No weapons were used, with live or rubber ammo. It’s just tear gas and water for crowd control.

All of this is happening because the French government levied a new carbon tax, provoking a rise in a fuel price that was already expensive. Filling the tank of a small car goes for 80 euros, and if you consider that minimum wage is around 1,400 euros, you can see how some people are rather annoyed, having to fill their tanks several times a month.

So, they protest, but only on Saturdays, and that is super puzzling to your classic Venezuelan demonstrator. See, the dynamic is based on weekly negotiations and waiting for government statements at the end of Fridays. If a satisfactory term isn’t reached, the cycle begins again. People literally protest on their free days, the French system doesn’t allow them to leave their posts for whatever the reason.

In Caracas, demonstrations determined whether you’d even leave your house that day; here, the protest is reduced to specific sectors, and life flows around it.

Maybe because memories of clashes back home are still very fresh in me, I have tried to avoid the incidents like the plague, but close friends did approach me during the third week of demonstrations, and both told me how the police closed the metro stations after riots began. Everyone was crowded and herded like sheep, quickly, decisively.

“It was like a war,” they described it to me, with the astonishment of someone who just saw a battle in Syria. “We were leaving and we heard this explosion that could have been like a big bomb.”

And I was, like, “Aha.”

They couldn’t get my reaction.

“I’m used to this kind of situation,” I said, not wanting to go into details.

Last week, I was on a train to Paris. There were only three people following the news from their phones. In Venezuela, everyone watched YouTube channels all day (because, remember, mainstream media is heavily censored), but here, “we protest for everything,” my French teacher told me. “There are many small demonstrations and sometimes it’s hard to remember why they protested last year, and the previous one.”

This has been nothing but contrasts. Anyone who has left their country knows that emigrating is like dying and being born again, and I feel like a baby that must learn to speak, move and behave in a new environment. I arrived to this country with the hope of making a new life, yet many of us got to deal with complicated migratory processes in which visas, scarce savings, and bets on uncertain futures are paraded in our carousel of worries. The protests in Paris have only shown me how different, or degenerated, our situation is in Venezuela, and how much these years are playing into my expectations. We, Criollos, must keep observing and gathering tools for whatever the future holds in our new environments… or inside our own borders.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Europe but I do not live in France and I still am not sure what to make of these blokes. You mentioned the price of petrol and the minimum wage but for people in the Americas this needs to be clarified: in most of the EU and definitely in France you have a rather good public transportation system.

    I know quite a few people who have a salary from average to well over average and who most of the time use the public transportation system. And obviously, those who earn less by far can come by with the public transportation.

    I would find it fascinating to see even the difference in private car use between long time Europeans and newly arrived people with a similar income level.

    Something else we need to remind readers: it is curious but not surprising both the extreme left – Chavista supporters – and the extreme right – not particularly vocal about Chavismo- are strongly supporting these protests.

    • France lowered taxes for the richest in Paris.
      Then they raises taxes on the rural and small town lower income people who need a vehicle to go to work, etc.

      The first lowering of taxes was to make France more “business” friendly. So, the guy in Paris making 200,000 Euros a year got a tax break to attract more businesses.
      Then, to make up for the shortfall, they raised petrol taxes on the guy making 20,000 Euros a year in the small town who needs his car and called it a “green” tax.

      You are not seeing it because you are thinking in terms of the middle, upper income city dweller that can take the “rather good” public transportation.
      Now think in the farmer’s or small town carpenter’s point of view who is sick of France being run for Paris.

      • As I said, I still know very little of what this is affecting the median citizen there and I am thankful for your clarification. I do know the protests spilled out to Belgium, where conditions are different – but only to the French speaking part. And there I am not sure why…or I do, actually. We really get huge differences in the way people try to solve their problems between the North and the South, even in the same companies.

        And in France 10 people have already been killed. This is not the way to go.

      • I’d just add, the small town carpenter or the farmer are probably not paying a lot of the taxes they would have to pay, by not declaring their income. The rich as well, though by legal means (running their earnings through corporate entities, hiring clever lawyers, et cetera). The employees at the local Carrefour or Agip are getting squeezed on both ends by income and by consumption taxes.

        The gas tax is a tax that is unavoidable. There is nothing more outrageous in France than an unavoidable tax. The policy behind it is sensible, the politics complicated, and the equities of the implementation unfair. Sort of like Europe itself.

  2. The carbon tax has been cancelled, so why are they still protesting? Because the tax was only the tipping point representing a plethora of complaints about participation in the EU.

    By the way, they’re “taking a week off” for the holidays, with intensity expected to heighten January 2nd. (Gotta love those French!)

    There’s no leadership to this movement, no one for the government to sit down with and “negotiate,” which is what makes it so scary and dangerous for the administration. The vast majority of people hate Macron and his globalist policies, and a wide variety of grievances against him are converging at once.

    The author should be careful around Paris these days, because she represents the massive immigration which has turned many parts of Paris into total shitholes and war zones.

    Being a girl helps, but even though she’s not a Muslim immigrant, she’s still an immigrant at a time when many of the people are fed up and burning the welcome mat.

  3. The fact is that to have free public services and being indifferent to almost everything « c’est la vie », they believed that free services equated to cost-less services. Now, Macron places a big tax on diesel and a tiny one on Gasoline in an attempt to clean up the big cities that are unbreathable. Due to heavy particles and metals from Diesel

  4. Off-topic, but had to share. I just had the pleasure of watching the mayor tell an angry mob of a thousand chavistas not to expect their pernil this year.

    • I adore this. These Venezuelan are all malnourished and their brains don’t function normally. I’m preparing my « plat principal pour Noël mais it prends do temps: des cuisses de canard en confit à l’orange »

    • Someone should start the Pernil Chronicles blog. The Aporreans are all over this “where’s my pork leg”?!

      Mmmmmm honey baked ham in a few days ….

    • I am curious what the outraged Chavistas did?

      Did they pipe down when the alcalde told them that the blame lay with Portuguese pig farmers (again) and El Imperio (always), and that he (and Maduro) was doing everything in his power to make sure they get their pernil… next year?

      And what about the dearth of doggie chew toys for the faithful PSUV children this year? Corn husk dolls for the girls and cardboard box guns for the boys?

  5. Like the Caracaso of CAP. EXCEPT: Venezuelan managed to get gasoline free for life and my Frenchmen will have to come to the realization that ”free” doesn’t mean it does not cost to the people. I think those guys once they come out of their lethargy they will stop consuming diesel, they will go for Nuclear again, with a bit of good sense they will adopt fracking and produce their own G&O, they will forget Greenpeace, the NGO, and all the exaggerated bullshit around protecting the environment, then they can have « la vraie raison d’être et vivre avec joie encore une fois »

  6. I hope Quico and Machado don’t delete me. BTW: THE ONLY ONE ARGUMENT IN THIS DISCUSSION GOES TO IRA. Kepler is too innocent and too socialist/communist to understand why these two countries have the problems they have (due to an exacerbated Social Security)

  7. True, if my Frenchmen abandoned the heavily left political ideas of Greenpeace and build Nuclear nonstop plus a bit of fracking then they should have all the money to continue paying for their generous and costly social rich redistributing. And I forgot, they should send the African illegal immigrants back home, that have come to la belle France by hordes. Stop the Jungle in Pas-de-Calais for good. And voila, problems solved.

  8. Hey MRubio, you are back. Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe New Year to you and your family.

    So will those Chavistas not support Chavismo now that they are without their pernil for Christmas. Why do I fear that they will still vote for the Chavistas. And so it goes.

  9. PS: THIS SEEMS UNRELATED. But it is not as respect my Frenchmen. One of the main components of the France crisis is the belief to exhaustion in Greenpeace. I don’t think to watch PragerU every day in life will do any good, but my dearest 🇫🇷France just a little bit. The first Greenpeace, President and Founder, explains here:

    https://youtu.be/BpBnJq19R60

  10. For those who think already this is trolling: my first son died in France and his soul is there. I married in France and my last two kids are French 🇫🇷 – American 🇺🇸. I’m also the godfather of a precious than life girl 💃 in Cognac. I think I know what’s going on.

  11. I got deleted a day or so ago, didn’t hurt my feelings, it was off thread anyway.

    Welcome back MRubio, appreciate your post… would love to read the details.

    Feliz Navidad all.

  12. It seems to me that the protests in France bear a striking similarity to the Occupy Wall Street protests of a few years ago in the U.S. They are a manifestation of a general discontent by the political fringes of the population. There is no particular unifying demands or ideology. It is simply a protest against “the system” which becomes attractive to a host of petty criminals and then spirals out of control and into violence.

    • That’s the crazy part, which I failed to include in my post. (But I sure don’t categorize them as petty criminals though.)

      Those protesting are coming from BOTH sides of the political spectrum, protesting for different reasons.

    • You are not incorrect.

      Give it a month and the Victimists will be asking, “where did everyone go”?

      Give it a year, and everyone will be asking, “whatever happened to that yellow vest thingy”?

      The OccuTurds couldn’t agree on what they were against. They just loved the idea of being against something. And wrecking shit.

  13. Is that photo at the top of the page Photoshopped? Because the one time I was in France, there was a lot of hubbub about the use of “English” and “American” words being dragged into the highly regarded French way of life… which was quite concerning for the French. Terms like “hot dog” and “OK” and such. You can’t be too careful these days when it comes to keeping the culture… undiluted.

    I am somewhat shocked that “Burger King” made it past the cultural purity cops. Roi des Hamburgers?

  14. @JuanLargo posted a question in another report. How two parallel worlds work in a single economy/territory. In Venezuela, there are the happiest and unhappy people on earth. I wish some of you send me your responses to me personally or via the website. This has been the biggest work failure of my life trying to explain that to my ex-Company.

  15. You may not be seeing in France what is happening in Venezuela now, but you may be seeing the beginnings of what happened in Venezuela. A revolt against the existing order and it’s institutions, a revolt against elites, a revolt against meritocracy.

    France has glittering opportunities if you live in a large city like Paris or Bordeaux, have access to good education, are connected, and accept an open society and the shifts happening in French cultural identity. Otherwise, your life may be stagnant, your town bleak, your community increasingly dysfunctional (addiction, family breakdown, underemployment, lack of hope, lack of infrastructure, a belief that your culture is under attack) and your anger rising.

    I drove from Bordeaux to Paris with stops in between last year, and a stay in Poitiers and in Paris, for example, is like staying in two different countries. There is a bar on the main square in Poitiers named W/C, which I thought sort of summed things up as to the state of that great medieval centre.

    The people really not doing well in France, psychologically at least, are the French French. The pure wool French, to apply a québécois expression.

    The others are either doing very very well in meritocratic Europe, or are immigrants working hard and moving up: neither group worried much about a loss of “frenchness”; neither group having hours of downtime to ruminate in the angry cesspools of the internet.

    There are two Frances, just as there have been two Venezuelas. Not for the same reasons exactly, or to the same degree, but what they have in common is a widespread lack of support for existing institutions, and a rising interest in extreme political solutions, or getting rid of the old order with no coherent plan for the future whatsoever.

    Consider yourself both more experienced, and from a country on the cutting edge of what is now a global trend.

    And at least you didn’t choose to move to England…

  16. Well I did Canucklehead. No bed of roses here. But I’m on the verge of giving up carrying on reading anymore about Ven. Things show NO signs of getting worse and the pueblo seem to have given up:(

    • At least Britain’s potential calamity has a fixed date, and will be an up or down sort of thing without a lot of ambiguity and lead up messiness mixed in.

      I joke but it is awful and perplexing to watch.
      The UK is our spiritual home so to speak.

      • I think that Britain is going to do quite well without the EU there to tell it how much they need them. And as this all plays out, more and more nations are going to tire of the EU “central government” telling sovereign nations what they must do. That is what the One World Order types fear the most.

        • So far it’s just been achievements, mastery and success, negotiating with Europe on their own. I quake with fear at how well it is going. How can anyone not want all that diminished power and leverage and the political chaos that goes with it?

  17. Good article! Small correction: filling up a small car doesn’t cost 200 euros, more like 65 or 75. And people who have to fill up their car several times per month (more than 2/3 times) probably drive for their profession, as most people don’t commute that far.

    Gas prices can certainly impact people though, especially those self-employed workers who cannot charge these costs to their customers.

    • I can assure you, that I (a self employed business owner) am required to pass all costs on to the customer. If I don’t, I cannot stay in business. Some months/quarters are better than others, but… all costs of doing business are passed on. Including fuel.

      • Exactly – the subset of business owners that are unable to pass on the costs (because their customers are unwilling to pay) are the ones that go out of business.

      • edit: cost increases (higher taxes, etc.) to my business also are passed on to my employees in the form of lower (or stagnating) wages.

        So to all of the whingers out there who insist that the vile business class must pay more and more in taxes (because high taxes is FAIR to foist upon businesses, as they are the exploiters!), just know that you are cutting your own throat. I am in business to make a profit. If I cannot make a profit, I am not going to be in business.

        A is A. It is that simple.

  18. I was in barcelona during the worse of the independentista uproar (when independence was declared and the local govt intervened by the central govt) and was surprised to see how civilized and orderly everything remained outside the sites where the protests were organized to be held , people never mentioned the subject (it was unpolite) in their daily exchanges , you could see people from opposing protest marchs meet in the underground but taking care not to offend or bother people from the opposite side. Had good friends from both sides of the barricades and while excited and passionate about their positions they were also moderate in their respect for the humanity of their counterparts……., my relatives who live there treat the subject with caution but can get away with not being asked to become involved in the fray by either group.

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