Sunday, January 21, 2007

Trucker protest on Via XX Septtembre.

While shopping on the Via XX Settembre around noon on Saturday, January 20, my ears were assaulted with a tremendous and painful noise coming from the street outside. I discovered an almost endless line of trucks filling the west-bound lane of the Via XX Settembre, all blaring their horns constantly. Far in the distance behind them, I could make out other Genovan motorists, also blaring their horns, but in a more irregular fashion, no doubt in disgust for the truckers who had snarled midday traffic in the busy city center. A handful police cars led the procession, and media were all over the place, photographing the scene and conducting interviews.

I was able to photograph the banner carried on one of the trucks and later generate a loose translation. The banner for the group, the Federazione Autotransportatori Italiani (FAI), proclaimed, "Minister Bianchi, your lies have become tiresome." After a little research, I was able to determine that Alessadro Bianchi is Italy's Minister of Transportation, and the FAI apparently takes issue with some of his policies.

I found it interesting how this protest was conducted by the truckers and tolerated by the local authorities. Of course, protests and strikes are not uncommon in Italy, but this one seemed to cross the line in that it was what Americans would call a clear disruption of the peace. Indeed, the decibels generated by the horns blowing made it physically painful to carry out daily life on the Via XX Settembre. Yet the police quietly escorted the trucks along. The outcome would have probably been quite different in the United States. What that says out our level (or lack) of freedom in the United States, or the ability (or inability) of Italians to project their freedoms is something worth pondering.

Clinton Riddle

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