How was May Day celebrated around the world?
Around the world on May Day, workers, unions and left-wing protesters marched through major cities in recognition of International Workers’ Day, commonly known as May Day.
- May Day celebrations ranged from working class celebrations to politically charged calls to action
- Numerous global protests have highlighted social inequalities, government shortcomings or worker frustrations
- While the majority of May Day marches remained peaceful, some protests turned violent
In France, police fired tear gas to repel black-clad anarchists who ransacked businesses in Paris, where May Day protests were largely focused against the policies of newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron.
Thousands of people joined May Day marches across France, demanding pay rises and asking Mr Macron to drop plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.
Most of the protests were peaceful but violence erupted in the capital, where police arrested 45 people, including a woman who assaulted a firefighter trying to put out a blaze, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said during of a press conference.
Eight police officers were injured, added Mr. Darmanin.
“Black Bloc” anarchists ransacked a McDonald’s restaurant on Place Léon Blum and ransacked several real estate agencies, smashing their windows and setting trash cans on fire.
The police responded by firing tear gas.
About 250 rallies were organized in Paris and other cities including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille.
Counter-protests in Brazil
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, crowds gathered to hear from union leaders as well as former president and likely presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Activists waved flags and held banners celebrating trade unions and socialist parties, dancing to music and applauding speeches by left-wing leaders urging supporters to vote in the upcoming election against conservative President Jair Bolsonaro.
In Rio de Janeiro, pro-Bolsonaro supporters rallied at the same time, denouncing the left as “a danger to the country”.
These counter-rallies demanded changes to the country’s electronic voting system to “protect the integrity” of the vote, echoing an accusation made by Mr Bolsonaro, with no evidence that the vote could be tainted without the use of paper ballots.
The competing rallies reflected deep political divisions within the country and signaled that the upcoming elections could be hard fought, with the risk of a political crisis if either side rejects the final results.
Economic frustration in Haiti
Haiti and Colombia organized marches to honor the workers.
In Haiti, hundreds of workers took to the streets with posters and hand-written banners to draw attention to low wages.
With Haiti being one of the poorest countries in the world and the unemployment rate expected to reach around 14.6% in 2022, according to the World Bank, workers have little to cheer about.
Industrial workers carried signs demanding a pay rise.
They demand a minimum wage of 1,500 gourdes ($21) a day.
The average salary is currently 500 gourdes ($7) per day for nine hours of work.
Thousands of Haitians have left the country over the past two years on perilous journeys by land and sea to seek a better life elsewhere.
Adding to political instability following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July last year, the UN says more than 16,000 people in Haiti have lost their homes since mid-2021 due to gang violence. .
In Colombia, trade union groups and residents marched through the streets of the capital.
Among the banners were also those calling on Russia to leave Ukraine.
Athens marches focus on cost of living
In Athens, metro trains came to a halt and ships were docked in ports as thousands of workers joined May Day rallies in the Greek capital to protest soaring energy prices and the food.
Gas and electricity bills rose, with price hikes exacerbated by sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, pushing inflation in Greece to multi-year highs.
Police estimate around 10,000 people marched through central Athens and gathered outside the Greek parliament due to the rising cost of living.
“It is very hard, and every day it is getting harder for the workers. We will fight it, because the working class can no longer survive,” said Katerina Dekaristou, a teacher, standing in front of parliament.
Greece emerged from a decade of financial crisis in 2018, only for the pandemic to halt global travel two years later, hurting the tourism industry on which its economy relies.