victory for french farmers

An embarrassed French state have been forced into a delaying the verdict until September in the trial of Jos? Bov? and nine other French farmers. The defendants are charged with causing ?70,000 damage after they drove a tractor into a Macdonald’s that was under construction in the town of Millau last August. Meanwhile Macdonald’s have received weeks of bad publicity worldwide resulting in a 20% drop in their share price.

The court case began on the 30th of June in a carnival atmosphere as an estimated 47,000 protesters converged on the small town (population 20,000). The farmers could face a maximum fine of ?50,000 and five years in prison. They have promised to appeal any sentence. It seems likely that they will only receive a week in prison due in no small part to the fact that Jose, leader of the Framers Union The Confederation Paysanne, has become a national hero and the trial is highly politically sensitive in France.

The courtroom became a debate about global trade. The prosecuting judge, an ex-communist, agreed to extend the trial over two days allowing defence witnesses to be heard. These included Lori Wallach, Director of Global Trade Watch, Bill Christianson from the US.National Family Farms Coalition, Susan George of ATTAC France, Vandana Shiva, Rafael Alegria from Honduras representing the global farmers coalition the Via Campesina and Paul Tran Van Tinh a former GATT negotiator for the European Union.

The charismatic Mr. Bove appeals to a media that love to focus on personalities rather than issues. He told Lib?ration, the French newspaper, that “The struggles of peasants throughout the history of the world have always been a collective enterprise,” He is “not anti-American at all”, rather, he supports “the right of people to feed themselves”, or “to nourish themselves”, depending on the translation.



Website of the Confederation Paysanne (in French)