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Friday, May 27, 2005
  Sacre Blue, The Vintners are on a rampage
TVX34: French Winemakers Go On A Rampage: "PARIS (AP) Protesting winemakers in southwestern France set fire to train cars, pelted them with rocks and blocked rail traffic on their way home from demonstrations Thursday, authorities said.

France’s state rail authority, SNCF, planned to file a complaint and estimated the damage at about $2.5 million, half that sum for material damages and the other half for delays, said Bernard Strehle, a train official in the city of Montpellier. No one was injured, he said.

Protesters were returning home from a demonstration in Nimes on Wednesday that gathered up to 10,000 vintners urging government aid. More than 1,000 riot police watched over the demonstration, and shopkeepers pulled their metal blinds down to prevent damage.

As violence broke out late Wednesday and early Thursday, much of the damage was concentrated on the train line between the southwestern cities of Nimes and Narbonne, the SNCF said. Protesters also damaged command posts and equipment.

France’s vintners have for years suffered a steady erosion of their livelihoods by falling demand at home and the growing popularity of Australian and American wines abroad. A government crackdown on drunken driving has also battered domestic sales."
 
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