Reports

  • Fordlandia: utopian industrial dream in the Amazon

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    One of the old Fordlandia warehouses. © Thomas Cantaloube One of the old Fordlandia warehouses. © Thomas Cantaloube

    Ninety years ago the American car magnate Henry Ford created a town in the Amazon jungle in order to secure a supply of rubber for his vehicles' tyres. Today it is just a ghost town, another example of the hubris so commonly associated with this region of the world. Mediapart's Thomas Cantaloube reports from Brazil on whether the lessons of that failed venture have truly been learned.

  • Leftist Mélenchon wears velvet glove to reach French election knockout round

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    With just days to go before the first round of the French presidential elections, radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is mounting a serious challenge to the frontrunners, with opinion polls this week placing him neck-and-neck against conservative candidate François Fillon, and ever closer to the far-right’s Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, the longstanding favourites now losing ground. Christophe Gueugneau followed the firebrand’s last major meeting this week, when Mélenchon, who wants to install a Sixth Republic with stronger powers for parliament, a system of regular referenda, and a renegotiation of EU treaties, attempted to reassure voters that he is not the anti-democratic revolutionary his detractors claim him to be.

  • Tales from the riverbank: how Kinshasa's once-mighty port on the Congo is dying

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    A view of Kinshasa on the River Congo, 2016. © Reuters A view of Kinshasa on the River Congo, 2016. © Reuters

    It was claimed – and hoped - that the River Congo would one day be the gateway to the country's prosperity. But with corruption rife, trade in decline and salaries going unpaid, the main port that serves the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital city Kinshasa is today slowly rusting and dying. Pierre Benetti visited this once-thriving commercial hub and met those now trying to make ends meet along the banks of one of the world's largest rivers.

  • French rail workers refuse to join 'migrant hunt'

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    A migrant heading to France from Italy along railway tracks out of Ventimiglia. © LF A migrant heading to France from Italy along railway tracks out of Ventimiglia. © LF

    The Riviera coastal area in south-east France surrounding the border with Italy has become a major crossing point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to reach northern Europe.  Despite a crackdown on the clandestine crossings by French and Italian police, many migrants continue to attempt the journey, either by by train or the perilous route of railway tracks, despite a series of fatal and serious accidents. French rail employees are increasingly under pressure from both their company and the police to help with the hunt for the migrants. Louise Fessard met with railwaymen who refuse to collaborate with operations that one described as resembling scenes from the WWII German occupation.

  • Implosion looms for French socialists as 'irreconcilable' presidential candidates head for knock-out vote

    Manuel Valls (left) and Benoît Hamon. © Reuters Manuel Valls (left) and Benoît Hamon. © Reuters

    The first round of the French Socialist Party’s primaries to choose its candidate for this spring’s presidential  elections saw leftist former education minister Benoît Hamon arrive in the lead, followed in second place by Manuel Valls, on the party’s Right and who last month resigned as prime minister to take part in the race. Hamon now has a significant chance of winning the second and final round between the two men to be held next Sunday. But whatever the result, the deeply divided Socialist Party faces implosion. Mathieu Magnaudeix and Christophe Gueugneau followed the two camps as the results unfolded during Sunday evening. 

  • France's socialist militants ponder party's future

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    Local party members at Roubaix in northern France watch the first socialist primary debate on January 12th 2017. © Amélie Poinssot Local party members at Roubaix in northern France watch the first socialist primary debate on January 12th 2017. © Amélie Poinssot

    Last Thursday the seven candidates in the Socialist Party's primary to choose a presidential candidate took part in the first of three televised debates. Mediapart joined a group of party members watching the first debate at Roubaix near Lille in northern France, which is historically one of the staunchest of socialist strongholds in France. As Amélie Poinssot discovered, many grassroots activists are still hopeful the party can be rebuilt despite the massive disappointment of François Hollande's presidency.

  • Activist on trial for 'pinching' a French bank's chairs to highlight tax evasion

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    Protesters in Dax, south-west France, turned the trial into an attack on tax evasion. Protesters in Dax, south-west France, turned the trial into an attack on tax evasion.

    An activist has gone on trial in a town in south-west France for having “requisitioned” some chairs from a bank. Jon Palais and others took the chairs as part of a wider protest against tax evasion and the use of tax havens which costs France billions of euros a year. The bank in question, BNP Paribas, took exception to the protest and made a formal complaint over their “stolen” chairs. But as Dan Israel reports, the legal complaint backfired as Palais and his supporters turned the trial into a media event in which the bank's own actions were held up to scrutiny.

  • Arbitration award to French tycoon was 'scandalous', Lagarde trial told

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    A former top French civil servant told the judges in the trial of IMF boss Christine Lagarde how he had tried to meet the then-economy minister to stop her from agreeing to an arbitration process that eventually cost French taxpayers 403 million euros. Ex-Treasury official Bruno Bézard said not only was holding the arbitration in the first place a blunder, it had been a mistake not to have appealed against its 2008 ruling in favour of tycoon Bernard Tapie. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan says it was a tough day in court for Lagarde, who denies negligence in signing off on the arbitration process while a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.

  • 'I was not negligent' claims IMF's Lagarde as trial opens

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    The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has appeared before a special court in Paris charged with negligence over her handling of a controversial arbitration process that paid out millions of euros of French taxpayers' money. Addressing a court reserved for government ministers, the former French economy minister denied wrongdoing but suggested she herself may have been “exploited” by others in relation to the 403 million euro award made to French tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

  • 'Hollande and Valls have broken the Left'

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    Mediapart was present at a public meeting at Nanterre, west of Paris, to discuss the forthcoming presidential election when the news broke that President François Hollande would not be standing for re-election in that contest. Many of those present in the hall were supporters of the Left who had voted for Hollande at the 2012 election. Some were quick to voice their dismay at his presidency's record, while the majority expressed general indifference and the meeting quickly resumed. As Mathieu Magnaudeix reports, it was a sign of just how irrelevant the president had already become to many ordinary voters.