French farmers aim to put Paris 'under siege' in their tractor protest

PARIS (AP) — The French Interior Ministry on Sunday ordered the deployment of large numbers of security forces around Paris as angry farmers threatened to march on the capital, hours after climate activists dumped soup on the glass protecting the “Mona Lisa” painting in the Louvre Museum.

French farmers are putting pressure on the government to respond to their demands to improve prices for their products, reduce red tape, and protect against cheap imports.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said after an emergency meeting on Sunday evening that 15,000 police officers had been deployed, most of them in the Paris region.

Darmanin said he ordered security forces to “prevent any siege” of the Rungis International Market – which supplies the capital and the surrounding area with a lot of fresh food – and Paris airports, as well as to prevent any convoy of farmers from entering the capital and any convoy of farmers. Another big city. He said that the helicopters would monitor the tractor convoys.

Farmers block a highway near Agen, southwest France, Saturday, January 27, 2024. French farmers vowed to continue the protest and set up traffic blockades on some of the country's main roads. The government announced a series of measures on Friday, but farmers say these measures do not fully meet their demands. (AP Photo/Fred Schipper)

Darmanin said all eight Paris-bound highways were likely to be closed on Monday from midday, and urged car and truck drivers to “expect” the closures. “It is clear that the difficulties will be very important,” he added.

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Farmers in the UCR in the Lot and Garonne region, where the protests broke out, said they plan to use their tractors on Monday to head toward the Rungis International Market.

The two largest farmers' unions in France said in a statement that their members stationed in the areas surrounding the Paris region will seek to close all main roads leading to the capital, with the aim of putting the city “under siege”, starting Monday afternoon.

Earlier on Sunday, two climate activists threw soup on the glass protecting the “Mona Lisa” painting in the Louvre Museum and chanted slogans demanding a sustainable food system.

In a video posted on social media, two women with the words “FOOD RIPOSTE” written on their T-shirts were seen passing under a security barrier to approach the painting and throwing soup onto the glass protecting Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.

“What is the most important thing?” They shouted. “Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?”

“Our agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying while working,” they added.

Louvre staff can then be seen placing blackboards in front of the Mona Lisa and asking visitors to vacate the room.

Paris police said that two people were arrested following the incident.

The group Food Riposte said on its website that the French government was violating its climate commitments and called for the equivalent of the country's state-sponsored healthcare system to be put in place to give people better access to healthy food while providing food to farmers. Decent income.

Angry French farmers have been using their tractors for days to set up roadblocks and slow traffic across France. They also threw foul-smelling agricultural waste at the doors of government offices.

The government announced, on Friday, a A series of measures Which farmers said does not fully meet their demands. These include “significantly simplifying” some technical measures and phasing out taxes on diesel fuel for agricultural vehicles.

new prime minister of france, Gabriel AttalHe visited a farm on Sunday in the Indre-et-Central region. He admitted that farmers are in a difficult situation because “on the one hand we say: we need quality, and on the other hand: we want lower prices than ever before.”

“What is at stake is finding solutions in the short, medium and long term, because we need our farmers,” he said.

Attal also said his government was considering “additional” measures against what he called “unfair competition” from other countries that have different production bases and import food into France.

He promised to make “further decisions” in the coming weeks to address farmers' concerns.

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