Correspondent in Rome
Shouting “freedom, freedom” and directing insults to the Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, to the country’s main union and to journalists, thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday afternoon in the center of Rome to protest, in many moments violently, against the Covid digital green passport. This health certificate, which is given to people vaccinated against the coronavirus, will be mandatory from October 15 in all workplaces, whether public or private. According to the organizers, belonging to the most radical extreme right, such as Forza Nuova, 50,000 people from all over Italy participated in the protest. According to the police, there were 10,000. In addition to their opposition to the Covid health certificate, these sectors of the extreme right have for months organized demonstrations in numerous Italian cities to oppose the Covid vaccination campaign.
Assault on the union
A group of protesters stormed the headquarters of the main Italian union, the General Confederation of Workers (CGIL), close to via Veneto. Some forced the main door and managed to enter, but the police who were guarding the area prevented the entry of other protesters. Hundreds remained on the steps of the union building, including the national leader of Forza Nuova, Roberto Fiore, and the Roman leader of the same party, Giuliano Castellino. These were some of the most chanted shouts at the union headquarters: “Hands off work” and “strike.” Castellino warned: “We are 100,000, tonight we will take Rome. Today we stop the Covid green certificate. This is the force of the square against the sanitary tyranny, the force of the people against invented emergencies ». The threats of the leaders of the extreme right were accompanied by the demonstrators with shouts of “freedom, freedom”, many of them doing the Roman salute or fascist salute. The CGIL union, with more than 12 million members, the protesters reproach it for not defending the workers, because as of October 15 they will have to present the health certificate to be able to work.
The Prime Minister Mario Draghi, called the union leader CGIL, Maurizio Landini, to express to him and to the entire union the solidarity of the government: “Any intimidation against the unions, fundamental for democracy and defense of the workers, is unacceptable and must be rejected with absolute firmness,” Draghi said in a statement. The prime minister has condemned the violence that took place this afternoon in Rome and in other Italian cities.
In some areas of central Rome scenes of urban guerrilla and the merchants had to close their shops and draw the blinds. Some protesters kicked police vehicles, even trying to overturn them. In via Veneto and via del Tritone, protesters threw firecrackers and letter bombs. The forces of order prevented a group from reaching Chigi Palace, the seat of the government’s presidency. The protesters then raised the tone of their protest shouting “murderers”, “we want the resignations of Draghi and Mattarella” [primer ministro y presidente de la República]. Police detained some protesters and used pressurized water hoses to disperse the protesters.
End of the pandemic
In Italy 80% of the population has received two doses of vaccines and the government has approved a third injection for those over 60, a campaign that will begin at the end of October. There are still 8.5 million Italians without immunization. The sector against vaccines is a minority, but it makes a lot of noise, as has been seen this afternoon in Rome.
The protests come the day after Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed his optimism about the vaccination campaign not only in Italy, but around the world, to the point of considering that the pandemic is almost over. «With 6,000 million vaccines in the world, the virus is under control. Our continuous efforts have helped us – added Draghi- to have the pandemic under control in many countries and give us hope that its end is in sight.