Rome Fears It Could Be Next on Protesters´ List

Globalization Foes Eying November Food Summit

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ROME, SEPT. 6, 2001 ( In the wake of Genoa, Rome might be the next target for anti-globalization protests.

The protests could come for the World Food Summit, organized by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and scheduled in this city from Nov. 5-9.

On Wednesday the Rome Social Forum (RSF) held its first assembly in the Capitol, headquarters of the municipality of Rome. RSF offers the opportunity for debates on the issues that will be discussed at the food summit.

RSF takes up the idea of the Genoa Social Forum, which organized numerous protests during the July summit of the most industrialized nations and Russia. That summit degenerated into vandalism by protesters and inordinate violence by the Italian police.

The Rome Social Forum includes RAGE (Economic Anti-globalization Network). The latter embraces leftist parties, social action groups, social centers, as well as the «white monkeys» — the movement of white-jumpsuit-clad youth which includes a mix of pacifists, libertarians and ecologists.

Significantly, the Rome Social Forum tried to pressure Caritas and other Catholic organizations to join RSF, and included their names in a list of members published in the newspapers.

The Catholic organizations protested vehemently. Father Vittorio Nozza, director of Caritas-Italy, explained that «as a pastoral organization, together with other institutions of the ecclesial realm, we will continue our path in favor of globalization, in defense of the rights and dignity of the poorest.»

«What is more, in light of the Genoa events, we feel called to a new stage of educational commitment, especially toward youth, and to proposals [fostering] responsibility through education for peace, nonviolence,» Father Nozza said.

The Italian Christian Workers Associations (ICWA) also declared that it will not be part of the Rome Social Forum. Italian Catholic labor unions say they already have «a credible and accredited speaker» for the food summit: the «forum of the 400 NGOs that are part of the ICWA.»

In an editorial in the magazine Nigrizia, the Comboni missionaries who joined in the Genoa G-8 protests stated that «from now on, the movement will never be able to be in the same places where the ´Black Bloc´ criminal idiocy is expressed. Undoubtedly some of the members of the Genoa Social Forum have not reflected sufficiently on nonviolence.»

The Italian government fears that Rome will be hit by the same kinds of protests that hit Genoa. Vandals caused millions of dollars in damage, and one youth was shot by an Italian policeman who was being attacked. In Rome, a city of incalculable artistic value, the losses could be overwhelming.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and FAO Director General Jacques Diouf, in fact, have established a commission to find another location for the food summit.

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