The riots in Rostock preceding the G8 summit in Heiligendamm have raised concerns about violent protests during the visit of President Bush to Italy this coming weekend. The violence in Rostock was organized by the so-called Black Block, an anarchist cell primarily based in Germany with close ties to anarchist groups in other European countries, including Italy. The police in Rostock estimated that 15-20 percent of those rioting had come to Germany from other European countries. Italian authorities now fear that many anarchists may be on a tour of “riot tourism” and that Rome will be targeted next as President Bush travels from Germany to Italy on friday night. The worry that trouble-makers from abroad will come to Italy has added to the already substantial threat posed to public safety by far-left extremists inside Italy. The government has increased border controls to prevent European anarchists from entering Italy.
In the meantime, Achille Serra, prefect of the city of Rome and responsible for security matters, has announced that the the city will be carefully monitored and that 6000 to 8000 security personnel will be employed during the visit. He has also assured the public that there will be no militarized “red” zones and that no demonstrations will need to be cancelled.
The Italian government has not helped to alleviate the tension as it still sends out ambiguous and contradictory signals on how it will welcome the US President. While the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has asked all members of the government to abstain from demonstrating against Mr Bush, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Fausto Bertinotti, refused to answer a question on whether he would shake hands with the President. At the same time, several other senior members of the Italian left have indicated their determination to partecipate in the protests against Mr Bush. Among many others, Franco Giordano, secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, a party allied to Mr Prodi, will join the street protests. Also the leadership of the Green Party, another member of the governing coalition, has declared its intention to march against the American President.
Moreover, certain left-wing politicians have used strong language to justify their active participation in the movement against the current US administration. Francesco Caruso, a member of the Chamber of Deputies for Rifondazione Comunista, has accused the US of conducting “a permanent global war”. With such inflammatory language coming from parts of the left, it is no wonder that Mr Prodi finds himself in an awkward situation. He hopes the city will remain calm during Mr Bush’s visit but cannot restrain left-wing allies from joining the Anti-American crowd and fuelling the tension.