Bush in Italy
A reader writes from Italy:
“The Italian administration’s scare tactics about the June 4 anti-Bush demonstrations reached the US media. All the world believed them. The center-left political leaders decided not to participate and abandon the scene to the crazies. Roman residents stayed home: subway traffic was down 60%, car traffic was so light that it seemed like a Sunday in August, parking was available because everyone moved their cars far from the parade route. They didn’t even bother to hang their peace flags from their windows. Some store owners closed.
Bush’s cortege probably didn’t see a single Roman resident the whole day, just official participants.
It would have been a good day for a jail break or a bank robbery, because much of the available law enforcement resources in the country were in Rome.
According to the authorities, there were 6-7000 demonstrators; according to the organizers, about 200,000. Not more than a few dozen crazies, who of course got most of the media attention. The whole scene was quite peaceful, which is why you probably didn’t see anything at all on English-language media. The few provocative acts got a measured and professional response from the police.
The government called the demonstration a flop. The opposition, that was elsewhere, tried to take credit for its obvious success.
Il Manifesto outright accused Berlusca of wishing for violent demonstrators. Many people suspect that some of the trouble in Genova was deliberately provoked by phony crazies working for the police. So in one sense it was a flop, because Berlusca didn’t get the urban warfare that he warned about that would have discredited the entire opposition.”