The captain of a tourist boat in the Lausanne port of Ouchy has caused a stir over the last few days after he put up a poster that appeared to ban Americans from his vessel.
The poster, put up in response to US President Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris climate change accord, reads: ‘No American people. No American money. You protect your business. I protect my planet.’
The inflammatory poster is displayed by the ticket stand of Aquarels du Léman, a company that offers excursions on Lake Geneva on solar-powered boats.
So are Americans really banned from the eco-friendly vessels?
Not really, according to the company’s captain, Olivier Hanggeli, who told the media that the poster is a “rant” and that Americans were still welcome on his boats but that they should be prepared to “have a discussion” about what Trump had done.
Speaking to The Local, Hanggeli said he was “angry” that the most powerful person in the world could make a decision that affects everyone else.
“I’ve been working to promote renewable energy for ten years because I think we need to preserve the climate and nature,” he said, adding that he’s put considerable financial resources into doing so.
“I find it scandalous that a president, who is normally a highly responsible person – that’s the role of a president, after all – lets himself undo in a few minutes an international decision that was signed after a considerable amount of effort.”
The reaction to the poster has been largely good humoured, he said. “On Sunday I had some Californians who came on the boat and we laughed about it.”
Others have come up to him on the quay to talk about it “and apologize for being American,” he said.
But not everyone has seen the humour in it.
Speaking to the paper 20 Minutes
, local councillor Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand said it was “regrettable” to put all Americans in the same basket.
The poster is “discriminatory” and not in keeping with Swiss hospitality traditions, he said, adding that such views did not do justice to the role that American people play in the city of Lausanne.
The poster was still there on Monday morning, but Hanggeli said he intended to remove it later that day because he had other things to display.
“This isn’t a long-term political engagement. It’s a rant. I won’t remove it because I’m scared or because I regret it, I’ll take it down because I have other things to put up in its place!”