FRENCH winemakers have launched a stunning ambush on a convoy of Spanish wine and other agricultural products that they claim are undercutting their livelihoods.
With howls of anger and frustration, the French farmers boarded the Spanish lorries and proceeded to throw or pour out all the boxes, crates and wine into the street.
Like highwaymen from days of yore, around 500 indignant French farmers had set up a roadblock near the Le Boulou tollbooth, a mere 15 kilometres from the French-Spanish border.
Videos from the scene showed the carnage and destruction of Spain’s national produce, as the streets turned red with cheap sparkling wine.
One French grape merchant systematically smashed giant holes in the crates of wine with a sledgehammer while they were still on the lorries.
The tap on another tanker was flicked open, unleashing a torrent of red wine as crowds cheered and filmed the spectacle.
The demonstrators even made an impromptu bonfire from stacked crates of tomatoes and tires that gave the scene a riotous air.
The destruction was part of an ‘economic war against economic criminals who abuse ruined winegrowers,’ according to Frederic Rouanet, the president of a local winemaker syndicate that organised the protest.
He added: “We are going to end the possibility of being able to import foreign wines to this country.”
Once one of France’s centrepiece products, the wine industry has been suffering from plummeting demand and sales in recent years, especially impacting major wine-producing regions like Bordeaux.
This explosive demonstration unfolded just two months after the French government announced plans to dispose of millions of litres of wine and even uproot vineyards in an effort to balance out supply.
A wine production surplus in France has led to unsold wine and declining prices which has driven the producers to view imports from Spain as an existential threat.
Spain’s Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA) called out the inaction of French police to put a stop to the destruction of property.
Montse Cortiñas, the UPA’s Deputy Secretary-General, called these assaults on Spanish products ‘intolerable’ and demanded that the European Commission and the Spanish government take action.
The Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra were reported to be redirecting heavy vehicles to seek sanctuary in La Junquera, a town on the Spanish side of the border.
However, Spanish unions demanded that the authorities take decisive action against the firebrand instigators and ensure that they face legal consequences for their actions.