CRAV attacks return to south

  • Monday 6 March 2006

Bombings, vandalism and arson have returned to southern France with the CRAV reviving its activities following last month’s winemakers’ demonstrations.

A tax collection office in Peyriac-Minervois, 20km northeast of Carcassone, was rocked by an explosion last Thursday morning, blowing in the front door and damaging other parts of the building. Police believe the bomb was homemade.

‘We found CRAV [Regional Committee for Viticultural Action] daubed on one of the building’s walls,’ a police spokesman told journalists.

The bombing was preceded on Wednesday evening by several arson attacks along the railway line between Narbonne and Béziers. According to the state-owned railway company, the SNCF, the whole signal network was affected. Normal service on the line between the two stations did not resume until 10am the next day.

Although no CRAV graffiti was found, the attack bears all the hallmarks of the group. A similar assault on the railway system occurred in May 2005, immediately following a winemakers’ demonstration in Nîmes. On that occasion, wagons, junction boxes and rail crossings were set alight, and the track, telephone wires and security installations were vandalised.

‘[The arson attacks] have been committed several times in this region – three or four times over the past year,’ said a spokesperson for the SNCF.

Police are currently investigating both attacks, as well as a more sinister spate of vandalism exactly one week before.

In four towns between Montpellier and Béziers, offices of the Crédit Agricole bank, Groupama insurance, the agricultural mutual insurance and the public treasury were vandalised. The threat ‘année blanche, sinon boom’ (‘limitless loans, if not – bang’) were found sprayed on the walls.

At demonstrations by winemakers’ on 15 February activists demaned financial aid from the treasury and limitless bank loans to aid the struggling French wine industry.

Jean Huillet, onetime CRAV activist and now regional head of the cooperative winemakers union in the Hérault recently told a meeting of the PCF (French Communist party) that ‘the situation has never been so catastrophic.’

Huillet said that winemakers had seen 43% drop in income over the past three years.

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