A stray leaf and Pinot Noir grapes from Les Vendanges (grape harvest) of 2010.
Many news making events occurred in France during the last few months. Receiving the most press and the most passionate debate is the government’s expelling of Roma (Gypsies). The expulsions are in response to two events that occurred this summer. The first was rioting that happened near Tours in response to the killing of a “Gens du voyage.” The second was violence in Grenoble in a Cité (public housing). The violence in Grenoble included shooting at police officers, something almost unheard of in France.
In response to these two events French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered a hard-line law and order speech in Grenoble. Sarkozy suggested that some violent crimes committed by naturalized citizens could lead to revoking their nationality. A law along these lines recently passed in the National Assembly and will be voted on in the Senate soon. Such a law could be found unconstitutional. But if not, the chances are it won’t be used very often, if ever. The law if enacted is more symbolic than substantive. But nevertheless it’s a hard right turn for Sarkozy.
Also part of the government’s new hard-line law and order policies was a crackdown on Roma. Sarkozy said he wanted to dismantle 300 illegal Roma camps and expel whoever wasn’t French. Roma, have the right to be in France (as European Union citizens), but not indefinitely (somewhat like other EU nationals) unless they find work. The government is using the pretext that if any Roma are living in illegal camps, they are breaking the law and can be expelled. At least one French court ruled that living in an illegal camp is not grounds for being expelled.
Gens du voyage and Roma are two different groups who can be confused for each other. Gens du voyage are travelers or nomads and are French. They live in campers and travel around the country. Roma are from Eastern Europe (or descendants) and have similar lifestyle as Gens du voyage.
The EU and other nations criticized France’s actions. After denying for months, allegations that Roma were not racially targeted as a group, illegal under EU law, a memorandum was found by the press stating exactly that. The memo directed police to go after Roma camps explicitly. The government then did an about-face and had to amend the memo.
The general conclusion by pundits is that Sarkozy will base his reelection in 2012 on being tough on crime and a law and order candidate. This may be a risky move, that could help the far right National Front (FN). Sarkozy was elected in 2007, in part because he was able to marginalize the FN but also appealed to those in the center. The expelling of Roma, a group vilified for centuries, and not involved in the Tours rioting or the violence in Grenoble, may offend centrists. Centrist voters are key to Sarkozy’s reelection.
I’ve been putting together videos taken during my summer trip to Corsica. To date: a video about Napoleon's birthplace, four beaches, fish market in Ajaccio and Napoleonic soldiers. All videos can be found on my Corsica page.
September not only means La Rentrée – back to school, but it also means Les Vendanges – the grape harvest. Continuing our tradition we spent Les Vendanges at my brother in law’s winery in Burgundy - Domaine de l'Echelette. I didn’t do any picking, but I did make two videos. I followed the wine making process from picking to crushing to the glass for testing.
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