Shops in the Andorran town of El Pas de la Casa enjoy brisk year-round business with customers and smugglers attracted by its low VAT rates. © Photo Emmanuel Riondé pour Mediapart
The Pyrenees mountains separating France and Spain have long been a crossing route for smugglers of all kinds of wares, which today range from cigarettes to elvers. But the 623-kilometre-long border between the two countries, definitively traced in 1866, has also never been a barrier for the centuries-old exchanges, local alliances and regulations established between the communities living on either side. Emmanuel Riondé reports.
Beirut residents without power to air conditioning units escape to their balconies. © Houssam Shbaro / Anadolu Agency via AFP
August 4th marks the anniversary of the devastating explosion last year in the port of Beirut of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate unsafely stored in a warehouse, causing the deaths of more than 200 people and injuring more than 6,500 others. The blast accentuated an already severe economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, and has left it politically rudderless ever since. Amid high unemployment, soaring poverty and shortages of basic commodities, the population is now also struggling from constant power cuts, the result of withering institutional corruption which has all but paralysed its electricity network. Nada Maucourant Atallah reports from Beirut.
Margot, a waitress at the Café Jules in La Grande-Motte, southern France. © Cécile Hautefeuille
In a gradual lifting of the restrictions introduced to contain the Covid-19 epidemic in France, cafés and restaurants were allowed to re-open in June after a lengthy period of closure. But employers report increasing difficulties in finding staff, many of whom appear to have decided, after months laid off, to quit insecure and demanding jobs in which they complain of being exploited and undervalued. Cécile Hautefeuille reports from the Mediterranean resort of La Grande-Motte.
A match at the Les Hijabeuses tournament at La Courneuve, north of Paris. © MC / Mediapart
Wearing a headscarf or hijab during a football match is authorised by the sport's world governing body FIFA. But they remained banned for official games in France. A group of Muslim women players are fighting against this discriminatory policy and are calling on the French football authorities, the Fédération Française de Football (FFF), to change their rules. As part of that battle the group, known as Les Hijabeuses, organised a football tournament on the outskirts of Paris. Mickaël Correia reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy at the court in Paris, June 15th 2021. © Christophe Archambault/AFP
The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in court for the first time yesterday, June 15th, for the trial in which he and 13 others face charges over the massive overspend during his failed presidential election campaign in 2012. The ex-head of state conceded some responsibility in the way his campaign was conducted. But, showing clear signs of irritation, Nicolas Sarkozy strongly denied that he had committed any financial irregularities himself. And instead he pointed the finger at supporters of Jean-François Copé, who at the time was head of Sarkozy's political party the UMP. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court in Paris to hear the former president give evidence.
A tag in Cargèse in memory of Massimu Susini, shot dead in 2019. © HC
The French Mediterranean island of Corsica, known as “the island of beauty” for its stunning scenery, coastlines and wildlife, is also known for its clans and underworld gangs, and a murder rate well above the average in mainland France. Hélène Constanty reports from the Corsican village of Cargèse, where a string of killings has raised fears of a spiralling blood feud, and where a local collective is standing up to organised crime.
Gwénaël Floch sur son exploitation. © Amélie Poinssot / Mediapart
Gwénaël Floch runs a small but productive organic farm in Brittany, north-west France. He pays himself, like his employees, the minimum legal wage, while he also has bank loans to repay on initial investment in the business. He receives little more than 300 euros per year from the EU’s annual 58-billion-euro Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, supposedly promoting organic agriculture, and which will be even less after the introduction of the new CAP in 2023. That is when organic small farms in France will lose the aid, however small, they are currently entitled to, and which prompted farmers to protest in Paris earlier this month. Amélie Poinssot reports from Brittany.
The number of Covid cases found in French schools, week by week.
There has been exponential growth in the number of Covid-19 cases in French schools, both among pupils and staff, and some teaching personnel have become seriously ill as a result. Though the education minister has just announced a further toughening of the health protocols to tackle the virus in schools, some teachers fear the ministry is still “in denial” over the scale of the problem they are facing. One teaching union is now calling on members to take strike action. Ismaël Bine and Caroline Coq-Chodorge report.
Anti-coup protestors gather in a mass demonstration in the centre of Yangon, February 12th 2021. © Collectif The Myanmar Project
The civilian protest movement in Myanmar against the military coup of February 1st continued on Monday, when a general strike was held and hundreds of thousands again took to the streets of major towns and cities, including the capital Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay, despite the junta's warnings against a “confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”. A group of young journalists in Myanmar, a collective called The Myanmar Project, have spent the past three weeks documenting the unfolding events across the country. Here, under cover of anonymity, they tell Laure Siegel what motivated them and how they go about their reporting.
Two women lay flowers at the Pôle Emploi branch in Valence on January 29th 2021, a day after the murder of a supervisor there. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
On Thursday January 28th a supervisor at a Pôle Emploi employment centre in south-east France was shot dead, sending a shock wave of alarm through all branches of the government agency. Staff had already seen growing violence and tension in their branches from disgruntled job seekers, a discontent that has been further fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the economy. As Cécile Hautefeuille found out, fear among job centre staff is now rapidly turning to anger.