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The first anti-vaccine convoys arrive in Paris amid police deployment

Opponents of the certificate of vaccination began to arrive Paris on Saturday, after thousands of people camped out overnight outside the city gates, where police are in wide deployment to prevent them from blockading the French capital.

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This mobilization brings together opponents of the anticovid management of French President Emmanuel Macron and “yellow vests” and is inspired by the protest that paralyzes the Canadian capital, Ottawa, against the vaccination rules for the pandemic.

Hundreds of vehicles, motorhomes and trucks leaving Lille (north), Strasbourg (east) or Châteaubourg (west) began their journey to reach Paris on Friday and spent the night camping near the city.

Hundreds of vehicles managed to penetrate the Paris ring road on Saturday morning, where police began fining people for participating in an unauthorized demonstration, the police prefecture reported.

Nearly 7,200 police and gendarmes were deployed, according to authorities.

Armored gendarmerie vehicles were also mobilized on the Parisian streets, something that had not happened since the “yellow vest” demonstrations at the end of 2018.

Prime Minister Jean Castex promised to be adamant about this move. “If they block circulation or try to block the capital, you have to be very firm,” he insisted on France 2 television on Friday.

Among the messages spread by the organizers of the protest there are slogans to reach the emblematic Champs Elysées, one of the main arteries of the capital. On Saturday morning, some vehicles and trucks belonging to the protesters were circulating along the calm avenue, an AFP journalist confirmed.

“The moment is important, this is something peaceful. We didn’t come here to break anything,” a person in his 40s who spoke on condition of anonymity told an AFP journalist at a rally in Fontainebleau, some 70 kilometers from Paris.

This independent craftsman came from a town near Roanne, in central France, accompanied by his partner, an optician who is unemployed due to her opposition to vaccination.

The couple wants to denounce the health restrictions but also protest against the “low purchasing power”.

– Macron asks for calm –

Macron made a call for calm and admitted that there is a collective fatigue due to the situation that has been going on for two years.

“This fatigue is expressed in different ways: despair in some, depression in others. We see a very strong mental suffering, in young people and not so young. And sometimes this fatigue translates into anger. I understand and respect it,” Macron said in an interview with the Ouest-France newspaper.

“But I call for greater calm,” he added.

The police estimated on Friday night that there are 3,000 vehicles in the caravans in different marches in which about 5,000 people participate.

The authorities expect that in all of France, between 25,000 and 30,000 people will demonstrate, a number similar to the mobilizations of other weeks.

The prohibition of the convoys was ratified this Friday by the justice, which rejected two appeals.

“It is a betrayal. The foundations of the (prohibition) order do not respect the law and the freedom to demonstrate,” Sophie Tissier, an anti-vaccine activist and “yellow vest,” told AFP.

Prime Minister Castex stated that the right to demonstrate is “a constitutionally guaranteed right”, but denied that it was “blocking others and preventing them from coming and going”.

Two months before the presidential elections in France, protesters demand the withdrawal of the vaccine certificate, which only allows immunized people to enter restaurants, cinemas and other places and which the government says it wants to abolish by April.

These announcements are received with suspicion by the protesters.



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Source: Elcomercio

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