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Sunday Night Train to Genoa

by Patrick Beckett Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2001 at 11:41 PM

Genoa, a mysterious destination, a cave of promised treasure for the anti-neo liberal globalisation movement. During the next week’s upcoming g-8 meetings and anti g-8 demonstrations, anything can happen, and probably much of it will.

Greetings from Italy,

Genoa, a mysterious destination, a cave of promised treasure for the anti-neo liberal globalisation movement. During the next week’s upcoming g-8 meetings and anti g-8 demonstrations, anything can happen, and probably much of it will. The media, and demonstration organizers have both forecast as many as 100,000 demonstrators. If this were to happen then Genoa would surely be host to the largest demonstration or this kind taking place in the western world.

To cope with they potential mayhem brought by the diverse crowds, the Italian Government has mobilized 20,000 police and troops, and instigated the strongest security measures yet seen at such a demonstration. The entire city of Genoa will effectively be closed down during the days immediately before during and after the summit. After extensive negotiations, the Genoa Social Forum, one of the organizers of the protest, has arranged with the Italian government that one station will be left open for demonstrators to arrive at, but as far as I know, the airport, ferry terminals, all other train stations will be closed. To everyone, including lucrative tourists. A missile defence shield has been installed at the airport especially to protect the Group of Seven democratic industrialized nations, plus Russia (a.k.a. the G-8) world leaders from possible threat… terrorist? EEE- Gads! George Bush will apparently be sleeping on a U.S. Aircraft carrier moored in the port, and his wife and other “first ladies” have cancelled so called diplomatic visits on shore. I wonder if the Bush’s dog has been left at home for this one?

Genoa is an ancient port city… birth place of Christopher Columbus, and home to a secure harbor. As such, it can be seen as a traditional stronghold of mercantilism, which many view as the precursory to the current neo-liberal economic order. The city is apparently (I’m not there as I write this) a mixture of twisty little old alleys opening on to modern boulevards, and has been cordoned off into a RED zone and a YELLOW zone. All civilian traffic including pedestrian is forbidden in the red zone, unless you have a special permit granted by the police for work or housing. From what I recently read, the yellow zone has been discarded after negotiations, but police will continue to insist on identity checks throughout the city.

The Genoa Social Forum, a coalition of hundreds of different ngo’s, has secured the right to demonstrate during the g-8 meetings. This may seem like a straight forward accomplishment, but given the current fear of European government’s of “anti-globalisation” riots, it was no small task.

I’m writing this from the train, on my way to Genoa. My wife and I have seen little evidence of tens of thousands of demonstrators streaming towards Italy, but then again, on our way to Gothenburg Sweden earlier this summer, it was similar. And there were perhaps 20000 people there with us in the end. And in Genoa, the first demonstration is not scheduled until Wednesday.

We expect to arrive in Genoa around six a.m. I guess I’ll be able to tell you more about what it is like there then… if we successfully cross the border. The Italians have re instated border control under the Shengan Agreement, which means they can use the rather extensive security data base shared by e.u. countries. Checking passports, and refusing entry to those persons suspected of troublemaking. In Sweden, this included an 18 year old convicted of graffiti 4 years earlier.

I’ll try to send more updates over the next week. For a schedual of the Counter Summit, have a look at:

http://www.genoa-g8.org/gpf-eng.htm

You should also be able to find links to other g-8 sites from there. Of course, for up to the minute coverage of news from the streets, see:

http://www.italy.indymedia.org

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