100,000 March Against Bush And Berlusconi


100,000 March Against Bush And Berlusconi

"NO BUSH – No war" was the main slogan of the 100,000
strong week-day protest in Rome on 4 June, when US President Bush was coming
to visit his fellow warmonger Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.

Christine Thomas

The predominantly young protesters had come to tell him,
in no uncertain terms, to get out. They also called for the withdrawal of the
troops from Iraq and for an end to the occupation.

Berlusconi is trailing the opposition centre-left Olive
Tree alliance in the polls for Italy’s European and local elections. He hoped
a visit from Bush would enhance his standing as a ‘political statesman’. Bush,
as with his visit to Blair last November, was just desperate to show that he
still has some friends left and to try to boost his flagging support back

From 2 June, the anniversary of the founding of the
Italian Republic in 1948, local protests, roadblocks, sit-ins took place
throughout Italy. In Bologna police attacked demonstrators, wounding and
hospitalising at least ten.

Prior to 4 June, Berlusconi warned of impending violence
on the main demonstration. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica called his
statements "irresponsible and provocative". Many people feared a repeat of
Genoa 2001, when police shot and killed Carlo Giuliani on an anti-capitalist
protest. In the end, despite the presence of more than 10,000 police and
Carabinieri (military police), the Rome demo passed off peacefully.

Deep anger

STUDENTS, THE ‘disobbediienti’ (direct action protesters)
were joined on the demonstration by members of Rifondazione Comunista (PrC),
the Greens and workers marching behind banners from Fiom, the metal workers
union and the ‘unions of the base’.

One of these, Cobas, had called a two hour strike to
coincide with the demonstration. Members of Lotta per il socialismo (CWI,
Italy) campaigned for the main union federations Cgil, Csil and Uil to call an
eight-hour general strike to show the real opposition to the war in Iraq
amongst Italian workers.

But the union leaders did not heed the call. In fact, they
put the emphasis on local initiatives rather than campaigning to get people to
Rome. Even the PrC did not organise transport from many parts of the country.

The anger against war in Iraq is so deep (two-thirds of
Italians still oppose the war and occupation) that with a proper mobilisation
the turnout on the Rome demonstration could have been many times greater. A
survey printed in La Repubblica (5 June) showed that, over the last 12 months,
11.8% of Italians have demonstrated on the streets – more than six million