Thursday, March 01, 2007
French Politics 101
Let's try to get aquainted with the various candidates running for president in the upcoming elections in France. I've written about Segolene Royal, Francois Bayrou and Nicola Sarkozi because they are the front runners from the biggest parties, but there is a big spectrum of candidates out there, all with different issues and priorities.
Today we will get to know Jose Bove! You might have heard his name in the USA. He is one of the leading anti mondialist voices in the world today.
He was born in 1953 in Talence, France outside of Bordeaux and spent his early childhood in Berkely, California where his parents were researchers at the University.
He speaks fluent English. When he came back to France, he went to a Jesuit School in Paris where he was expelled for his political views and behaviour...it was the 60's!
He was a pacifist and fled the army.
He moved to Larzac on the plateau in the south central region of France and became a dairy farmer and produced Roquefort Cheese. The army tried to appropriate lands there and he and a group of farmers resisted and won!
In 1987, he founded the Confederation Paysanne, a agricultural union of small farmers that placed value on humans, the environment promoting organic farming. One of his main crusades is against genetically altered plants introduced by agro industry.
He is a member of Greenpeace, and the anarchist organization, Alternative Libertaire.
He worked with the American small dairy farmers to help them organize and is considered a hero by many small farmers in the midwest USA.
In 1999, in Millau, France, he and a group of protestors non violently "dismantled" a McDonalds in broad daylight. This action was a protest spotlight to the use of imported hormone treated meat and the fact that the fast food industry is one of the main buyers and promoters of the productivist agricultural system.
He was arrested, tried and sentenced to three months in prison which he served in 2002. This made him into a bigger celebrity and brought attention to his causes.
The next year, in protest to Americas restrictions on the import of Roquefort Cheese, due to the EU's ban on American hormone treated beef, and the effect it was having on the small producers in France, he smuggled 30 kilos of Roquefort into the USA in his luggage.
He is very active in world peasant movements. He states that he is not against the WTO, but is against the unfairness of the restrictions and subsidies that allow larger, wealthier countries to out produce and under sell poorer ones.
He was present at the WTO Protests in Seattle and has been active in destroying genetically modified crops in Brazil.
He also has been accused of Anti-Semitism, not for any anti jewish statements he has made, but because he supports the struggle of the Palestinians and visited Arafat against the protests of the Israelis when Arafat was being confined in his headquarters. When he came back to France, there were confrontations of pro Palestinian and pro Israeli supporters when his plane landed. He further fueld the controversy by stating that he believed that The Mossad was behind some of the wave of Synagogue burnings in Europe to keep the Pro Israeli sentiments high!
He was very active in the opposition in the Referendum of the EU Constitution last year.
In France he has been convicted three times of destruction of fields of genetically altered crops and has served another sentence and was recently sentenced again to another 3 months in prison. Because of this he was refused entry into the USA for "moral reasons" last year.
On February 1, of this year, Jose Bove had 40,000 signatures and a demand from his supporters to run for president. He says he is the voice of those who have no voice.
He considers himself a part of the new left movement and is part of a coalition to defeat the right and far right which have a toe hold in the rural population here after the evaporation of support for the traditional Communist Party.
He is very active, a charismatic, likable man and he will continue his campaign if his current appeal fails from inside prison! What ever you think of him and his chances for success, he is man of conviction who has fought heroically for what he believes in!