Genoa in July
Panic in high places
"AN UNFORTUNATE choice." So says Italian prime minister Berlusconi about Genoa, where the next meeting of the world's G8 leaders takes place from 19 to 22 July.
He is terrified that the anti-capitalist protests will have an even bigger impact than those in Gothenburg. His government contains hard right wing ministers from the neo-fascist and Northern League parties. But it shows every sign of panicking. Berlusconi stopped on his way back from Gothenburg to hold a special meeting with his interior minister. Rumours in the Italian press said they were still thinking of switching the G8 venue to a ship in the Mediterranean or to an Italian enclave in Switzerland.
They have been trying to frighten off protesters by saying they will close Genoa's airport, railway stations, motorway intersections and border crossings for four days. But this is causing consternation among business leaders, who risk losing four days profits at the beginning of the tourist season. And it would mean protesters effectively blockading the entire city and not just the "red zone" where the G8 is meeting.
As Phil, a socialist from Salerno, puts it: "The Italian government is maintaining its hard faced stance towards the protests. There have been a huge number of scare stories about the protests. But this is having a boomerang effect. It is creating interest in the mobilisation for Genoa. The Genoa Social Forum, which is coordinating the protests, is in talks with the trade union federations. If the trade unions move, the government won't be able to stop anybody going to Genoa. In Genoa itself things have blown up over the last few weeks. Steel workers have laid siege to the regional assembly in the city with their cranes and fought with the police. Firefighters, who were asked to train the police in high pressure hosing, refused. They have called a strike in protest for 20 July. The dockers who have a long history of militancy have backed the social forum. This is part of the growing anti-capitalist movement around Italy. Across the country groups of ATTAC, the campaign against financial speculation, have really taken off over the last month. Groups are springing up everywhere. ATTAC is building for Genoa. Even the PDS, the ex-Communists who have moved to the right over the last decade, have realised the significance of Genoa. One of their main leaders said recently that the movement since Seattle is the most important development of recent years and that they have to stand with people in Genoa."
Around 100,000 people are expected to converge on Genoa in July. They will tell the G8 to cancel Third World debt and put people before profits. In Britain six major unions back the protests. UNISON, the public sector workers' union, is encouraging as many of its members as possible to go.
The other unions backing Genoa are the general GMB union, the communication workers' CWU union, the lecturers' NATFHE and AUT unions, and the journalists' NUJ union. Drop the Debt, one of Jubilee 2000's successors, is organising to take around 1,500 people to Genoa. "People are determined to be in Genoa. They are getting there any way they can," says Gillian from Drop the Debt. "There are two rickshaw convoys going from Jubilee Plus in Leeds plus a double decker bus."
Globalise Resistance has almost filled a train to Genoa. Other people are organising a car convoy and to hitchhike to the G8 summit.
All roads lead to Genoa
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