Je Suis Yellow Vest: Global Anti-Elite Claim Stake In French Movement

Far-right and far-left from around the world voice support for the popular uprising in France.

'Get out!' — now available in many languages
"Get out!" — now available in many languages
Jacopo Iacoboni


TURIN — It's just the beginning, this time around too. This is also a revolution, but one heading in the exact opposite direction compared to the hopes of 1968: a revolution that is a paradox, an Internationale of populist, anti-European nationalism, angrily shouted out. A network of political sympathies, personal relationships, amplification operations on social networks is forming around the Yellow Vests movement — a network that goes far beyond France and leads, one way or another, always to the same place: to the protagonists (or to the sorcerer's apprentices) of the nationalist revolts around the world.

The political program of the Yellow Vests works well because it is a 25-piece mirror, where each new demand offers someone the opportunity to find its own demand reflected. For example, Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the French were protesting against the agreement to stem climate change: "The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting "We Want Trump!" Love France."

We want the same things as the Yellow Vests.

It is doubtful whether protesters really shouted "We want Trump!" (the news was tweeted by Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, a right-wing organization). But this shows how many are blowing on the fire of the Yellow Vest movement, to be sure they won't be the ones to get burned.

Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, one of the founders of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) that is now part of Italy's governing coalition, gave an interview to the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano titled "We want the same things as the Yellow Vests," in which he listed demands heard among the French protesters, including lower taxes, universal basic income, higher pension benefits. "These are all issues that we promoted first," Grillo declared. A former M5S member of Parliament, Ivan Della Valle, set up the Facebook page of the Italian Yellow Vests Coordination.

The "No Tav" movement, which has long worked to block the new high-speed train line between Turin and Lyon, referred to the Yellow Vests on their Facebook page as "a popular uprising that is setting an example for the whole of Europe. The world is divided into two parts. On the one hand, there are the people who fight for a decent future for everyone, on the other hand, there is an increasingly pervasive power that defends the interests of few." It is no longer right versus left, but the my-nation-first anti-EU people up against the elites.

Whether intentionally or not, there is a parallel with Steve Bannon, the guru of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Speaking in Brussels at an event last Saturday organized by European rightist parties, featuring France's Marine Le Pen, Bannon said "the Yellow Vests are the exact same type of people that elected Trump or voted for Brexit. They want to have control over their own countries."

It is the same script as Brexit.

Of course, foreigners do not create, but they do amplify, ignite and use this discontent of various kinds in European countries with the ultimate objective of destroying the EU. Three of the points of the Yellow Vests's political program (9, 22, 24) are "Frexit," the exit from NATO and the restless fight against immigration. It is the same script of Brexit. According to an analysis by cybersecurity company New Knowledge, reported by The Times, 200 Twitter accounts linked to Russia churned out an average of 1,600 tweets a day using the hashtag #giletsjaunes. Another public analysis, by a well-known researcher in the computer community, "x0rz", shows that many central accounts in the protest were created with a U.S. interface.

In the street there were flags of the Donetsk People's Republic, the pro-Kremlin enclave in the Ukraine, including the ones waved by two well-known French pro-Putin militants, Fabrice Sorlin and Xavier Moreau. Sorlin is part of the pro-Russian think tank Katehon, which is in contact with Alexander Dugin, the philosopher loved by Putin. Dugin tweeted, in French: "Je suis le gilet jaune." It is a phrase that is taking on serious, if not entirely comprehensible, meaning in any language.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!