Protestors Back French Farmer

A lively crowd of 7,000 people - including jugglers, singers and performers on stilts - paraded through Montpellier's winding streets Friday to show support for Jose Bove, the militant farmer who became a French folk hero after he ransacked a McDonald's.

Yahoo News
February 16, 2001

Protestors Back French Farmer
Angela Doland

MONTPELLIER, France (AP) - A lively crowd of 7,000 people - including jugglers, singers and performers on stilts - paraded through Montpellier's winding streets Friday to show support for Jose Bove, the militant farmer who became a French folk hero after he ransacked a McDonald's.

Rowdy brigades of people wearing costumes, wigs and makeup converged on the courthouse in the southern French city where Bove appeared Thursday and Friday to appeal the three-month jail sentence he received for vandalizing the fast-food restaurant in 1999.

On Friday, a prosecutor recommended a stiffer sentence for Bove, suggesting that the court add a three-month suspended sentence to his punishment.

But that didn't dampen the carnival-like atmosphere that has become standard at Bove's trial. Supporters of Bove's campaign against U.S. driven-globalization marched through the streets, dancing to techno-tunes and wearing thick, drooping mustaches - a Bove trademark.

Bove, 47, rose to fame in August 1999 when he and nine others used farm equipment to dismantle a McDonald's under construction in Millau, in the foothills of France's Massif Central mountains.

A Millau court sentenced Bove to three months in prison in September. His nine co-defendants, who received sentences ranging from $265 in fines to two-month suspended prison terms, have also appealed.

A decision from the Montpellier court is expected March 22.

On Friday, Prosecutor Michel Legrand dismissed defense arguments that the action by Bove and the nine other members of the Farmers Confederation union was a symbolic, nonviolent expression against multinational corporations such as McDonald's.

He also told the court it should not be swayed by the intense public support for Bove's cause.

“In here, it's not a carnival,” said Legrand, pacing the courtroom during his hour-long argument. “It's the Republic. Here it's serious.”

Defense attorneys argued that Bove's cause was an important one. One lawyer compared the sprightly farmer to Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian independence leader and advocate of nonviolence.

Outside the courtroom, Bove told reporters the union would continue to pursue its cause.

“The struggle goes beyond the borders of the Montpellier court,” he said.

Bove's lawyers have argued that French farmers were “taken hostage” by a U.S. decision to slap a surtax on some European luxury products, including Roquefort cheese, a product of the Millau region. They argued that the farmers' only recourse was radical action against U.S. multinationals like McDonald's.

The surtaxes, backed by the World Trade Organization, were a countermeasure to protest Europe's rejection of U.S. hormone-fed beef.

People who turned out Friday said they were angry at multinationals that push genetically modified crops and hormone-treated beef. Issues of food safety are of great concern in France, particularly because of the so-called mad cow epidemic sweeping across Europe.

As part of the festivities Friday, a market set up outside the Montpellier courthouse offered fig jam, herb-infused honey, rabbit pate, and fresh leeks and artichokes - everything farm grown.

“Lately, you have the impression that everything you eat is poisoning you,” said Sylvie Virest, 30, who dressed as a clown and brought her family for the occasion. “Look around. You'll see there are plenty of people who are fed up and looking for a change.”


Brought to you by WikidFranchise.org

Risks: Boycott, Globalization, Protest, rally and demonstration, Culture means much more than $ to some people, France, 20010216 Protestors Back

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License