Via Europa: France During COVID

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By Vanessa Biard-Schaeffer

We’ve recently been witnessing a series of unusual events in France that might indicate change is around the corner. I created this video on May 8th, V-day in France, when we usually celebrate freedom, remembering the end of World War II. Instead, we are still in lockdown although the situation is starting to ease up.

The first event that got my attention is political in nature. Twenty generals and military personnel, most of them retired, published an open letter in which they call on the French government for a change to avoid disintegration of the country. The letter and associated petition went viral. It is the first time members of the French military, even retired members, publicly sounded an alarm as they are supposed to stay politically neutral. At the same time, Philippe de Villiers, who had a career in politics, seems to be making a comeback, publishing books in which he denounces widespread corruption on many levels—EU, NGOs, Soros—and is also advocating for an urgent change.

There is also increased social unrest. It started two years ago with the Yellow Vests movement, followed by lawyers, nurses, police officers, and other professions showing their discontent. Macron at the time called for a big debate. Nothing really happened until Covid hit. The situation has still not been addressed.

Finally, on the cultural level, we are also seeing significant signs that change is in the air. A new song by a famous French actor, Gérard Lanvin, called “Entre le dire et le faire” (Between Words and Action) criticizes and makes fun of the latest three Presidents: Sarkozy, Hollande, and Macron.

Another song, “Danser Encore” by HK Saltimbanks, complains about the lockdowns and the “royal tyranny” imposed on the people. Flashmobs have been taking place in Paris and other cities in France, but also in Belgium and Italy.

Related Links

Revolt of the Retired Generals

First Open Letter in French

Second Open Letter by French Soldiers Warns of Civil Insurrection

Gérard Lanvin’s song: “Entre le dire et le faire”

HK Saltimbanks’ ‘Danser Encore”