The Yellae Jaiket muivement in Réunion
Syne 17t November, there haes been a social muivement gaun on in Fraunce cried the Yellae Jaiket (gilets jaunes) muivement. The muivement gits its name fae the heich visibility yellae jaikets the protesters weir. The muivement is mair or less spontaneous, an haes nae real heid ane.
The original ettle o the muivement wis the protest agin the waux in petrol prices. But it tite wirtht till a general revolt agin social injustice, agin the lack o participative democracy an agin the preses Macron an the thir-days Forrit (En Marche) government.
The muivement is promuived by fowk fae aw ends o the political spectrum, fae Wanlowdent Fraunce (France Insoumise) tae National Rally (Rassemblement National; the umwhile National Front) gaun throu umwhile preses François Hollande an agrarian preses candidate Jean Lassalle.
Here in Réunion, an island aff the east coast o Africae unner the French government, the muivement wis stranger nor in ither territories unner the French government. There wis blockages ilka day for mair nor twa weeks. The shaps wis shut, as wis the scuils, uni an petrol stations. As wis the libraries, the public gairdens an the the Chaumer o Commerce. For a few weeks, Réunion an its economy wis brocht til a staundstill. A curfew wis pit in place acause o opportunists brekkin an birnin things in the nicht. But the differ atweesh them an the Yellae Jaikets wis plain as parritch for awbody.
The last major blockade in thae twa weeks wis at the port whaur the protesters managed tae prevene the laundfaw o gear intae the port for a few days. The riot polis uised tear gas (a chemical wappen) agin the protesters, here an in Europe. Even journalists buir the brunt o the wappens. The first gear brocht ontae the island efter the blockade o the port wis caurs, a thing there’s awready mair nor eneuch o on the island acause o the caur lobby an the unnerdevelopment o public transport.
The Owerseas Territories mínister, Annick Girardin, wis come tae Réunion for tae listen tae fowk an for tae propone meisurs tae address fowk’s problems. Housomeiver, it wis feckly meisurs that wis awready in the Forrit program fae whan the pairty wis electit, raither than onything actually new. But the muivement gangs on, juist less strang. An Réunion is a model for some Yellae Jaiket protesters in European Fraunce, at sees Réunion as bein mair mettle.
But hou is it that the Yellae Jaiket muivement is stranger in Réunion nor ither pairts o Fraunce? Réunion is ane o the auries wi the maist inequalities, wi a Gini Index o 0.36 whaur Fraunce is at 0.28 an Scotland is at 0.34. Nou, gif Fraunce haes ower mony problems wi inequality that they protest, whit’s it like for Réunion, Scotland an aw the ither places that is even less equal?
Réunion is forby ane o the places wi the maist problems wi buyin pouer, wi prices aften heicher nor in Metropolitan Fraunce, inspecially for basic fuid. Whiles, there is even tropical fuid that can be bocht cheaper in Scotland nor in Réunion, like bananaes. Thegither wi this, Réunion is ane o the places in Fraunce wi the heichmaist wanemployment rates an puirtith rates.
The auries whaur the Yellae Jaiket muivement is maist popular is peripheral auries. An Réunion is peripheral, physically, economically as weel as culturally, as compared wi ither pairts o Fraunce. Réunionese traditional cultur is gey an different fae dominant French cultur, whither it’s the creole leid, cuisine, muisic or aften mair subtle aspects o cultur. It is remarkable that the twa deputes tae cairy yellae jaikets tae the French Assembly wis anes that haes anither native leid nor the French: Jean Lassalle, his native leid is Occitan an the Réunionese depute Jean-Hugues Ratenon, at I’ll mention again efter, haes Réunion Creole as his native leid.
Réunion is forby mair affectit by corruption nor ither regions o Fraunce. Ae potential ensaumple o corruption is Didier Robert, preses o the region, that wis accused by Le Quotidien (ane o the twa main newspapers on the island) o earnin hunners o thoosands o siller at ance for wark he didnae really participate in. The Regional Chaumer o Accoonts haes homologate the idea that his revenue wis abusive. We’ll need tae wait an see the result o this.
But aw the politicans isnae kent for their corruption. Ane o the maist popular politicians in Réunion thir days is Jean-Hugues Ratenon. Ratenon is a depute in the French assembly that is memmer o Wanlowdent Fraunce an Rézistans Egalité 974. Afore becomin depute, he wis awready weel-kent in Réunion for his campaigns agin heich prices an for buyin pouer, whither in the Réunionese Communist pairty or in his muivement, the ARCP (Réunionese Alliance Agin Puirtith).
Weel-kent muisickers, like Kréolokoz, wis thrimmelt in the Yellae Jaiket muivement here an aw. Some independentists wis sceptical o the thocht o the Yellae Jaiket muivement at first acause it wad be juist follaein whit is awready stertit in Metropolitan Fraunce. But hinderly mony independentists tak pairt in the muivement in their fecht for social justice. Ae ettle o some independentist yellae jaikets is RIR (Réunionese initiative referendum) insteid o the RIC (citizens’ initiative referendum) proponed by ither protesters sae that fowk winnae sling a deifie tae the issues specific tae Réunion.
In the past week, Macron haes propaled meisurs for tae caum the muivement. But aw the meisurs concerns taxes an income, naething tae dae wi democracy or inequality. An the meisurs is tae be financed throu existin taxes an laicher public spendin, no throu taxin the ower-rich an the multinationals, like the protesters wad want. The eftercome o the wantaxed owertime is that employers will uise mair owertime an sae the muckle amoont o wanemployed in Réunion winnae drap. Thir meisurs that Macron uises for tae respond tae the Yellae Jaikets is things that wis awready in place unner Sarkozy. Anither wey in whilk the intimations o Macron isnae actually sae guid as the’r made oot tae be is acause the rise in minimum wage isnae actually a rise in minimum wage, but a rise in benefits for some fowk on minimum wage an a drap in social security contributions.
Sae here’s howpin that aw this campaignin wisnae in vain. That there will be mair social justice an mair participative democracy. We cannae juist gang back tae the status quo o the bylin pat o rage agin injustice. We can see awready that the new French budget privileges the rich yet. Sae it seems that Macron’s government is efter gaun back tae the same auld o mair privileges for the rich. That isnae the free an juist futur we want tae be leukin forrit tae. An the free an juist futur we want tae be leukin forrit tae the fowk can big it.