Friday, May 6, 2011

Sciopero Generale

                         "Let's be realists, let's dream the impossible"
                                                                           --Che Guevara

As every visitor to Italy knows, scioperi come and scioperi go--almost always before I can even glean what the strike was against, or what for. In fact, few people seem to know the purpose of all the various strikes, which tend to shut down our son's school about once a month, and the vaporetti for most of two Fridays per month. 

But today's strike was different. This one was in favor of 12 concrete and admirable proposals, ranging from issues affecting women, students, immigrants, workers and pensioners to upcoming referendums opposing nuclear power and the privatization of the water supply. Copies of these proposals were well circulated, and simultaneous demonstrations organized in three other towns in the region in addition to Venice. In Venice there was a march from Piazzale Roma to Campo Santo Stefano, where the rally you see above was held.

I'm terrible at estimating the size of a crowd. There were at least 1,500 people. Perhaps 2,000? More than typically attend the games of Venice's Serie D calcio (soccer/football) team--and this was heartening to see. There was a good turnout of students from the university.

One man in the crowd--I kid you not--was smoking Che Guevara brand cigarettes. I saw him take one from a small vivid red box adorned with the face and name of the revolutionary. Don't know if Che would've been in favor of this kind of branding. At least it could have been cigars.


  1. This does sound like an admirable (and unusual) Italian strike!

    There are strikes that close your son's school? Do the teachers go on strike? How strange.

    Twice I've been in Venice when the vaporetti were on strike; I enjoyed seeing the canals a bit more empty.

  2. The strikes don't necessarily close the entire school. For the strike pictured in this entry the two very good teachers who teach my son's pre-school class (nicknamed "i gattini", or kittens) decided not to come to work, but I think that other teachers still taught their classes. For other strikes, the teachers may all be willing to work, but the women who cook lunch or help the kids use the restrooms and so on may decide to strike. If these women go out on strike for a half or full day then the school must close.

    I agree about the benefit of fewer vaporetti during a strike--but, of course, only on those days when I don't need to get quickly from one end of the city to the other!