Reportage. Climate activists, students and unions are marching together starting Friday in Rome. ‘This mobilization is the first stage of a journey.’

A convergence of movements descend on Rome for the G20 this weekend

Interweaving environmental and social demands, connecting new generations of climate activists with the struggles of precarious workers, bringing together different trade unions in the same movement: these are the main challenges taken up by the organizers of the mobilizations against the G20, which will take place in Rome from October 29 to 31.

The official summit, attended by heads of state and government along with the ministers of economy of the richest countries, will take place in the EUR district. Three topics will be on the agenda: measures to stop climate change; the economic recovery; and the fight against Covid-19 and possible new pandemics. However, the proposed solutions are unconvincing for those who will gather in protest a few kilometers away.

“For us, the priorities are: to structurally decarbonize the production system; to abandon the market of carbon credits, which are a false solution; to allocate the 100 billion a year of the Green Fund to counteract the damage that climate change is already doing in the south of the world; and to cancel the debt of developing countries to allow them to start the ecological transition,” says Emanuele Genovese of Fridays For Future Rome.

The Fridays will converge in the capital from over 30 cities. Between October 28 and November 1, they will be guests of the Acrobax social center as part of the Climate Camp. Together with them, fighting for the climate, ecological organizations in Rome will also take part, as well as over 150 activists of Extinction Rebellion (XR), ready to carry out surprise actions of civil disobedience. Among the slogans of the camp is, “From Rome to Glasgow, your solutions are the problem.” At the end of the G20, the Scottish city will host the conference of the parties on climate change (COP26).

Meanwhile, in Rome, there is a full program of events. Friday will start with dances, the strike and the student march. On Saturday, the march will start from Piramide at 15:00, ending at Bocca della Verità. The GKN workers will arrive from Florence, who have organized ten buses. Notable is also the presence of the unions for workers at Alitalia, Whirlpool, TextPrint and FedEx. The core unions will all march together in the same section: Usb, Adl, Cobas, Sial Cobas, Si Cobas, Clap. Fiom and Flc Cgil will also be present. Along with Fridays and XR, Società della cura (SDC) and the social centers of the capital will be there as well.

“This summit will not do anything to improve people’s lives,” accuses Marco Bersani, spokesman for SDC. “For Draghi, it’s useful to showcase the so-called economic ‘recovery’. For the Interior Ministry, they will use it to say that the public order was ensured perfectly, after artificially raising the stakes.” Following the fascist assault on the CGIL union, the Ministry of Interior has shown signs of high alert regarding next weekend’s mobilizations. In the capital, there will be drones, snipers, military, 5,000 agents and intelligence services from different countries to protect government representatives and to control public order.

“An artificial state of alarm has been built up as a pretext to hinder the march,” says Clara Mascia of Flc CGIL. “But it will be a grand demonstration, full of ideas: we think that in order to get out of the pandemic and stop climate change, structural investments in education and research are urgently needed. Instead, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan worsens the precariousness of teachers and researchers.” Among the demands that protesters will display on their signs will be calls to revoke patents and ensure vaccination coverage for all countries around the world.

On Tuesday, a group of activists from Ecosystem Network Rome was taken to the police station for having unfurled a banner in front of the Palazzo della Nuvola, the vaccination hub where the summit will take place. It read: “The catastrophe is coming, it’s time to act.”

The activists prefer to look ahead towards the future: “We are not interested in making a show of strength. This mobilization is the first stage of a journey.” That journey will continue on Sunday with a national assembly at the Garbatella Theater, from 10:00 to 16:00.

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