Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rome safe for democracy?

Been there, done that. I've just come back to Rome and London in comparison is the tidiest corner of paradise. A visit in Rome implies getting stuck in traffic, it's a rule, mandatory, no way out. After waiting for the 70 bus in Via Giolitti for half an hour, I decided I couldn't waste more time and, since everybody was leaving in the look-out of other travel options, I went to Piazza dei Cinquecento, just outside Rome's main train station, Termini, and took the 40 Express.
I later found out that mine was a very unhappy choice. After an hour we were still in Piazza Venezia. Whoever has been in Rome knows that Termini station from Piazza Venezia is about 10-15 minutes walking.
The traffic in Via Nazionale, just down Termini, was mad, nobody was moving, all cars, buses, motorbikes were still. As we got down a bit and finally ended up in Piazza Venezia, the driver directly switched off the engine, as it appeared obvious that we were not going to move for a while. As stuck as we were, with literally no space for even a needle, two "blue cars" with inside some politician arrived following two police patrol cars that, with sirens blaring, ordered the other drivers to give way. The reason? Nothing serious, maybe a soirée in the beautiful Palazzo Venezia Museum where later I found out was full of penguins all spruced up ready for partying.

This, in a normal country, would be considered at least as abuse of power, but Italian people know and suck up abuse of power every day, from the national political class, the local political class, the boss at work, or even the landlord if they happen to be tenants. It's so embedded in the mentality that it's becoming reason of national praise.
Of course the abuse of power can assume different features. One of the most popular at the moment is the public security. If an alien goes to Italy now he will have the impression that it's theatre of war. And if this alien talks to any policeman, he will have his impression confirmed.

I can't even stop for five minutes near a patrol car (in a perfectly public space, precisely under the Vatican Walls) to digit a text message that the most professional 'Carabiniere' dismisses me with a grumpy: "Move away." Now with the fake emergency of fake international terrorism and criminality brought about by immigration it seems that the most fascist representatives within the Italian government found their way to ruthless security policies with the only consequence of further restricting civil liberties.
The beautiful Rome is one of the best place in Italy where you can have the honour to experience first-hand phenomenon like abuse of power, bad administration and how important is to be well-connected, and witness the arrogance of local and national political class.

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