Tuesday, February 9, 2016

one hundred and ten years ago in Paris

This was printed in Le Petit Journal on Sunday June 23, 1895 showing the expulsion of the 'zoniers' poor people who lived on the edge of Paris. The military were called to expel the poor and level the shanties from the 'zone' which were on the old walls of Paris. The Periphérique, the ring road, was built on top of it. The article asks 'Are these the enemy at our gates? Is the law too extreme and an extreme injustice?' Last Sunday this happened in Paris. The police evicted the poor and mostly Roma from the shanty town or 'bidonville' what was once 'le zonier' constructed on old rail tracks, 'le petite ceinture' at the edge of the Periphérique which was built on the old walls.
The BBC reported more than 350 Roma people had lived in the camp since mid-2015. Activists said many left early ahead of the police action which belongs to the national rail authority SNCF. France has one of Europe's toughest policies towards Roma. Most live in camps that are regularly demolished and every year thousands are deported. Amnesty International urged city authorities to find a lasting housing solution for those evicted in Paris - saying they would become homeless in mid-winter.
Bulldozers came and leveled the huts which were without water or heat.
What caught my attention was that in November I'd been driving on the Peripherique and saw the just opened Philharmonie de Paris, an amazing building the work of Jean Nouvel, from the ring road.
But then my eye caught on glints of light, people moving in this 'bidonville' among these shacks on the old tracks and the dichotomy hit me. One hundred and ten years later the poor people were evicted, their shacks torn down. Again. Cara - Tuesday


  1. When will we learn? When will we ever learn?

  2. I hate to say it, but it seems that much of the "civilized" world seems hellbent on repeating the mistakes of the past...or setting new benchmarks for future generations to gasp at.