PARIS (AP) — The French government caved in after Paris’ worst rioting in decades and delayed an increase in energy taxes Tuesday — but it was seen as “too little, too late” by many protesters whose anger seems increasingly focused on embattled President Emmanuel Macron.
Demonstrators were back in the streets wearing their signature yellow vests. They blocked several fuel depots and, on a highway near the southern city of Aubagne, commandeered a toll booth to let motorists pass for free near a sign reading “Macron dictator.”
The protests began Nov. 17 with motorists upset over the fuel tax increase, but have grown to encompass a range of complaints — the stagnant economy, social injustice and France’ tax system, one of the highest in Europe — and some now call for the government
Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in rioting in the French capital. Shops were looted and cars torched in plush neighborhoods around the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue. The Arc de Triomphe was sprayed with graffiti and vandalized.
Four people have been killed, officials said, and more protests are planned for this weekend.
One unifying complaint among the leaderless protesters, who come from across the political and social spectrum, has been the anger at Macron and the perceived elitism of France’s aloof ruling class.
Since returning from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron has either remained in his palace residence or else shied away from speaking publicly about the protests that have created his biggest political crisis since taking office last May.