The Water War, Part II

The Water War, Part II

The demonstrations at Sainte-Soline failed.  That is the inevitable conclusion as we see the coverage of the event monopolized by its violence–by the police, on one side; by the “ultra-left” on the other.  The conservative Valeurs actuelles opined, before the event, that “antifa” members were coming from all over Europe.[1] 

The discussion of the environmental risks of the artificial reservoirs, and their effects on small farms, has been limited to dedicated environmental journals, like Reporterre, and the more widely known Mediapart, which has been focused on legality–or rather, the ways in which the reservoirs, owned by private companies, have been rammed through with little consultation.  The argument put forward by some farmers and environmental groups, about local production and food self-sufficiency for France (the “locavore” idea), as opposed to  industrial farm production for a global market, has not made it into the mainstream. This argument, of course, carries a far-reaching threat to the assumptions of global capitalism.

The Gendarmerie Nationale, chiefly responsible for policing the area, posted one example of the fire they were taking, as they tried to move people away from the reservoir under construction.

A member of one of the organizing groups, Les Soulèvements de la Terre, took issue with the wording of the above tweet, noting that “mortars” are weapons of war, like those being used in Ukraine, while what they had were “fireworks”.[2]. The Gendarmerie also saw fit to tweet the “numerous weapons” they had confiscated from those coming to the demonstration.

Two reporters from Libération noted the statistics: 3200 police and gendarmes, along with helicopters, mounted units, and a water cannon, and 4000 grenades in under two hours, many of them tear gas, others grenades de désencerclement, or fragmentation grenades (releasing hard rubber balls instead of shrapnel)–all this, against 6,000 or 30,000 demonstrators (the count varied) throwing projectiles–rocks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks. The Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, a non-governmental social justice organization, stated that the violence of the gendarmes had one clear purpose: “to prevent access to the bassine, whatever the human cost.”[3]

The demonstrators, as well, had their own tweets, this one showing a mobile unit firing an LBD, a weapon that shoots rubber bullets, and became widely condemned in the Gilets jaunes demonstrations.

Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, stated that two LBDs were fired from the “quads,” as they are called, and he had immediately opened an official investigation. He suggested, however, that the police were taking much worse.[4] And this individual, hit by a grenade:
All images have been widely circulated, and have dominated the story.


Header image by

[1]Maxime Coupeau, “Projet de méga-bassine à Saint-Soline,” Valeurs actuelles, March 24, 2023.

[2] Fabien Leboucq and Pauline Moullot, “A Sainte-Soline, des armes de guerre employées sans retenue,” Libération, March 26, 2023.

[3] Ibid., and website of the Ligue:

[4] Jérôme Bèglé, Sarah Paillou, David Revault d’Allones, “Gérald Darmanin au JDD,” Le Journal du Dimanche,” April 1, 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *