Protesters march during an anti-G7 demonstration in Hendaye, near Biarritz, southwestern France, Aug. 24, 2019. When leaders of G7 countries are heading to Biarritz for addressing global issues on Saturday, around 10,000 people got together 30 km away to express their disagreements. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)
by Ren Ke, Chen Chen, Ying Qiang
HENDAYE, France, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- When leaders of G7 countries are heading to Biarritz for addressing global issues on Saturday, around 10,000 people got together 30 km away to express their disagreements.
Anti-capitalists, environmentalists, feminists, socialists and even LGBT rights activists started from the French town Hendaye south of Biarritz, crossed the border and reached the Spanish town Irun, about 4 km on foot along the beautiful Atlantic seashore.
"Climate and social justice, G7 act!" "No to the G7 and for the other world!" read two banners. Another long banner, held by several senior women and men, writes G7 and "no" in a dozen languages.
"We are talking to Macron, that we are coming!" said Sebastian from Toulouse, who wears a yellow vest and is singing a song with dozens of senior and young people in yellow vests too. The 43-year-old middle school teacher is against those "capitalist politicians" and calling for more efforts to address climate change.
Biarritz is gearing up for the 45th G7 summit. The small city is filled with the armed-to-the-teeth French police from around the country. The French media reported that over 13,000 policewomen and policemen were mobilized to safeguard the summit.
The public beach and the most central area have been sealed off, making the city known as the French surfing capital too calm in the summer holiday.
Anitalo Pepe, one of the organizers of the protest, said they are not allowed to protest in Biarritz so that they came to Hendaye, which is the terminal of the French high-speed railway from Paris. On Sunday protesters will go to Bayonne, a town closer to Biarritz, to hold another demonstration.
As of the press time, protesters clashed with the police in Bayonne, and tear gas and water cannon were used.
Pepe estimated that about 6,000 people join the protest. However, the local police said 9,000 people came, not including a group in Spain that joined the French group together finally at the border.
"We are against such power politics," said Aranca, a lady over 60 from Spain who is holding the banner. She came days before, holding conferences with other protesters and kicking off the protest with full preparation.
Senior citizens, students, teachers, workers and professional activists, protesters are wearing anti-capitalist shirts, holding banners and flags with different appeals, and three of them are playing rock music singing in the Basque language against the group of the richest countries in the world.
"I am against power politics. G7 is an elite club. Too few politicians are making decisions for the economy, ecology, social issues and other aspects. They are making decisions just for themselves! But I think more people should make decisions," said Aranca.
The 59-year-old Pello Eizagirre is from Irun. The retired seaman is walking home along with the protesting group. He believes that the politicians come to talk, however, basically they are not going to solve anything, but spending a lot of millions of euros on logistics and security and making people in this area cannot do anything.
"Don't forget the Amazon forest fire is still burning! Politicians are not taking enough measures to save the ecology. I saw a slogan, change the system, not the climate. I am against elite politics. It belongs to the rich people's club," said Eizagirre.
Alike Biarritz, Hendaye is also a popular seaside tourist resort, famous with clean and fine long beaches. However, the protest has made local tourism practitioners unhappy.
Carol runs a guest house in Hendaye. She is riding a bike with her husband along the beach avenue to see the demonstration. She said she is anti-G7 slightly, but she does not like the protest because protesters have come, but tourists don't. The summit over 30 km away also affected her business.
"It is the summer holiday, the high season for tourism. The summit should better be held in October or November," said Carol.