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France: Back into The Streets

1 minute read

The images — evoking the student-worker upheaval of 1968 — were enough to make any French government tremble: wisps of tear gas drifting across the Seine, helmeted riot police chasing stone-throwing youths in the Latin Quarter, cars set ablaze along the Quai d’Orsay.

The violence erupted in Paris last week at the end of a rally by 100,000 high school students. These were the children of the generation that took to the streets in 1968, but unlike their parents before them, they were not trying to change the world or overturn the government. They were just demanding more money for education.

Premier Michel Rocard, pressured by President Francois Mitterrand to buy peace with the demonstrators, allotted $900 million, most of it earmarked for the renovation of run-down school buildings. Though some protesters were still unhappy, student representative Cecile Amar, 19, hailed it as a “great victory.”

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