An account of activists visiting the Susa Valley in north-east Italy, where the inhabitants are in struggle against a high-speed rail link being built through their community. This article also looks at the various business interests involved in the project.
[DISCLAIMER: This appeal has been circulating in Italian on this website. We are simply providing a translation.]
We have been in the Susa Valley, among its inhabitants: schoolteachers, farmers, retired people, students. This is what we have seen:
A place already crossed by two state routes, a highway, a tunnel, a railway, ski resorts, and heavily impacting mining industries along the river. People who keep taking care of this exploited territory, heavily affected by infrastructures and commercial business, and who try to maintain a balanced relation with their own environment and culture. A community united by strong ties of conviviality, social cohesion, and solidarity between generations.
We have understood that what is at stake in the Susa Valley is not simply the making of High Speed Railway between Turin and Lyon, but an entire social model. A united and consenting people, a strong community cannot be subject to any political or economical interests. But all the strong powers of the economy have an interest in dividing and isolating its members, in order to control and protect particular businesses.
It is not difficult to understand why all forces on the whole constitutional spectrum are in favor of the High Speed Railway: a quick look at the involved firms and businesses is enough to understand.
* CMC (Construction and Cement Cooperative): a “red” cooperative and the 5th largest Italian construction business, it ranks 96th in the list of the main 225 international contractors. Among its former administrators is Pier Luigi Bersani (the current secretary of the center-left party PD, Tranlsator’s Note). CMC has secured the contract (assigned without a public bid) to lead a consortium of firms (Strabag AG, Cogeis SpA, Bentini SpA e Geotecna SpA) that will realize the exploration tunnel in Maddalena di Chiomonte. The overall value of the bid is of 96 millions of euros.
* Rocksoil.s.p.a. is a geo-engineering firm founded and led by Giuseppe Lunardi, formerly Ministry of Infrastructures and Transportation in the Berlusconi executive, from 2001 to 2006. Lunardi gave his own shares to other members of his family before accepting his post as Ministry. In 2002, Rocksoil obtained an advisory contract with the French firm Eiffage, which had been in turn commissioned the project for the 54 km tunnel of the Turin-Lyon HSR by the state-owned firm Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (Italian Railroads). This tunnel alone will cost 13 Billions euros. The ministry rejects charges of CONFLITTO DI INTERESSI by claiming that his firm was exclusively active abroad.
* Impregilo is the main Italian construction firm. It is the general contractor for the Turin-Lyon railway and for the bridge on the Messina strait.
Its owners and shareholders are:
33% Argofin, Gavio Group. Marcello Gavio faced charges of corruptions in the realization of the Milan-Genoa Highway and absconded from justice in 1992-1993. He was later acquitted due to trial expiration.
33% Autostrade.s.p.a., Benetton Group. Benetton is one of the main Italian industrial brands, internationally known for its exploitation of workers in its Asian textile factories. Among its accomplishments, it also stole almost 1 million of hectares of land from the Mapuche communities in Argentina and Chile.
33% Immobilare Lombarda, Ligresti Group. Salvatore Ligresti was convicted during the Tangentopoli scandals. He settled a 4 years, 2 months sentence, after which he returned to his previous activity in the construction industry.
Slander is the sole argument still available to this mixture of politicians and businessmen and to their media in order to justify a useless expense of 20 billions of euros while cutting down social expenses. Their only possible strategy is to misrepresent the inhabitants of the Susa Valley as violent terrorists.
On the contrary, we have seen only old people busy baking cakes, dedicated schoolteachers, responsible farmers, and flawless administrators.
We have understood that slander and misrepresentations are the sole possible arguments because countless authoritative studies, which nobody ever cites, have clearly demonstrated that the HRS is not only useless, but even counterproductive.
A list of scientific sources is provided here.