Blog: Chris Brook-CarterFrance mixing a dangerous cocktail

Chris Brook-Carter | 22 June 2005

It is with a level of bemusement that the rest of the world watches on as a handful of France’s winemakers take action at falling sales by rioting, torching cars and blowing up signal boxes rather than looking at commercial solutions to their plight.

Quite wrongly, of course, there is something almost darkly humorous about their refusal to take responsibility for their own economic plight and instead pour their efforts into violence rather than business.

However, there was a sinister interview on this week, warning the situation could detriorate. The damage caused so far has been largely financial - I certainly hope it gets no more extreme.

According to a former senior member of the winemakers’ pressure group CRAV, the violent actions “will escalate.”

Decanter spoke to Jean Huillet, now head of the winemakers’ union in the Hérault, who warned that there was a danger individuals could start operating independently of CRAV (the Regional Committee for Viticultural Action), the breakaway protest group which has been blamed for a number of extreme actions in the last year.

“There’s a risk that isolated individuals operating outside the CRAV could do something extremely dangerous,” he told Decanter.

“Some winemakers are using the organisation as a front for their own, individual actions. There are people who are using the CRAV to express their own discontent. It has been badly used – people are signing CRAV on the walls when they’re not part of it.”

Perhaps just as worrying, though, was the argument used to justify violence by this supposedly more “moderate” activist.

“They say we’re the ones who resort to violence but who committed the first act of violence? The economic violence visited on all the producers who’ve made so much effort on their wines for no reward,” he said.

A little chilling, no?

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