Hundreds of protesters opposed to the construction of a high speed rail link have clashed with police during a visit to Rome by the French President, Francios Hollande.
Protesters fought running battles with police as they tried to reach the French embassy where a meeting between Hollande and the Italian Prime Minster was due to take place. Opponents say that the $35 billion rail project between France & Italy will take over a decade to complete, will cause massive environmental damage, and will not serve any purpose.
Scuffles initially broke out at the Campo de' Fiori Square. The police had come dressed for a riot and forcibly pushed people away from the embassy, and down narrow streets. The protesters responded by throwing bottles and stones.
The high speed rail project has been at least ten years in the making and has led to countless protests and a rapidly growing resistance. Opponents are concerned about the environmental cost of construction of tunnels through the mountainous regions. A spokesperson for the campaign, Paulo Prieri, said that:
“It’s a useless project that won’t serve any purpose except to spend public money”
The train will provide a link between Turin and Lyon and according to its backers will ‘improve transport links between the two countries’, and will ‘boost business’. As with the proposed high speed rail project in the UK, its real purpose will be to get chinless, pin striped businessmen, between bases quicker.
Leading up to the meeting the NoTav campaign had this to say:
“Despite the opposition to the entire local population and TAV of a national movement, European governance continues to protect the interests of big powers and lobbies with decisions taken unlawfully, repression and military occupation of a territory. Under the blackmail of the debt, the sixth year of crisis economic and social has had devastating consequences for Italy in terms of general impoverishment, insecurity, mass unemployment and the dismantling of the welfare state. To this becomes the central theme of the allocation of public resources that should not be engaged in great works unnecessary and devastating for the territories. The 24 billion euro that will be allocated to the TAV in Val di Susa should be spent on a special plan on the house, to ensure the right to health, to invest in school and training, to ensure income to everybody.“