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Italian protesters gather en masse at Rome's Coliseum

Video by Oliver FARRY

Text by Alexis MASCIARELLI , correspondent in Rome

Latest update : 2010-01-04

Demonstrators, in the hundreds of thousands, marched through the streets of Rome on Saturday in a protest organised by the CGIL, Italy’s largest trade union, against Silvio Berlusconi’s government’s response to the economic crisis.

Demonstrators, in the hundreds of thousands, marched through the streets of Rome on Saturday in a protest organised by the CGIL, Italy’s largest trade union, against Silvio Berlusconi’s government’s response to the economic crisis.

 

“This is a day we will remember for a long time,” said Guglielmo Epifani, general secretary of the CGIL. “There are so many of us. We represent the part of Italy that works, the pensioners, those without stable jobs.”

 

“I wish the government would pause and think about the seriousness of this crisis, I wish the government would try and do more against it,” he told journalists during the protest.

 

The centre of the capital was inundated by a wave of red hats and flags held by protesters who came from across the country and who were chanting ‘Bella Ciao’, the song of the undergound resistance to fascism during the Second World War.

 

Marching ahead of a group coming from Genova, in the north of Italy, Michele, a 70-year-old former steel worker said “us pensioners cannot go on like this anymore.”

 

Others in the march shouted slogans such as ‘No to the government’s cuts’ and ‘Those who provoked this crisis it should pay for it’.

 

According to the organisers, there were an estimated 300,000 participants in Saturday’s mass demonstration.

 

It is the first time since its defeat at last year’s parliamentary elections that the Italian political left is united, with the presence in the demonstration of the main leaders from the Democratic Party, the main opposition party, as well as from the Green and Communist parties.

 

"I believe that it is the duty of the Secretary of the Democratic Party to support the workers who ask for their rights to be respected, who are scared to lose their jobs, those people who denounce peacefully against the fact that they can no longer live on their pensions”, said PD’s leader Dario Franceschini.

 

According to data published this week by the country’s tax administration, 35% of Italians declared revenue of less than 10,000 euros in 2007. A figure that, according to experts, shows the weakness of Italian salaries as well as the amplitude of fiscal fraud in the peninsula.

 

The most recent government measure to fight the economic crisis has been the go-ahead given this week to a programme of fiscal incentives to stimulate the building industry.

 

“Demonstrating against a crisis with this global dimension is like going on strike against the rain,” commented Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi, while ridiculing Saturday’s demonstration.

 

 

 

Date created : 2009-04-04

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