NOTRE-DAME-DES-LANDES, Loire-Atlantique (Reuters)
[Inexpert translation from the French into English. Apologies for translation quality].
For more than a week, the muddy fields of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) have been the scene of a “rural guerrilla warfare” between Opponents of the airport project and some 500 gendarmes and police deployed to secure the demolition of ten houses illegally occupied for several years.
The tear gas of the police to respond and occasionally throwing projectiles they are targeted by these 150-200 anti-capitalist activists, who converge from all over Europe for weeks to combat “this airport project and the world that goes with it, “according to the summary given by one of them.
Among their recent exploits, they have managed to hack locally waves 107.7 FM – reserved for motorway radio of the Vinci group, dealer equipment of the future – to deliver their information. These radical activists have also felled trees in the middle of the roads to obstruct the passage of construction equipment and police vehicles.
“There is no question of winning against their rival, but of boring them as much as possible,” explains Christelle, a squatteuse arrival two years ago on “holding zone” (Zad) airport of the future, that it and other opponents have renamed “zone to defend.”
While some of his fellow masked by changing T-shirts and scarves, it is to protect the “general FILING” and “legal risk” they face, says the young woman. “The County seeks to criminalize the movement to better suppress it,” she said.
And seven opponents have already been placed in custody since the beginning of the evictions, October 16. One in particular has been a summons to court in January 2013 for “participation in an armed crowd,” said the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique.
They all throw back at the State the responsibility for “violence” of which they are accused, and reject the appeal for calm by the prefect.
“Under the Occupation, it is the resistance that dealt with terrorists,” said Francis, a chef of 24 years.
“We only threw corn cobs and carrots,” said Julien, 31, arrived on the Zad ten days ago from Toulouse, where he and his wife took part in a “fight” against the similar expulsion of a “self-managed social center.”
The police, meanwhile, say they have been targeted by “stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails,” according to the prefecture.
These squatters occupying farms and lands acquired by the government or Vinci have received in recent days to support local farmers, historical opponents at the airport and not expelled from their lands. Proponents of a more moderate line, they supply them with food or shelter them in their barns.
According to the prefecture, these squatter evictions are justified by the imminence of the preparatory work for future road access to the airport, which should start in January. The work on the airport itself should begin in 2014 for commissioning in 2017.
Construction and concession equipment, located 30 km north of Nantes, were assigned to the Vinci group, which evaluates its cost 560 million euros. It will pay 320, the rest being paid by the state (125.5 million) and local (115.5 million euros).
The project, environmentalists, the modem and the Left Party calling for the abandonment, is borne by the State and supported by local elected socialists, including the prime minister and former deputy mayor of Nantes Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Presented by its promoters as a “transfer” of the current Nantes-Atlantique Airport, currently located in the immediate vicinity of the city, they claim the new airport will reduce the noise nuisance and the feeling of insecurity felt by a portion of the inhabitants of the city who are overflown by aircraft.
edited by Patrick Vignal
Original in French at