26th May 2001
The formidable Italian protest movement, Ya Basta, have formally declared war against western capitalism ahead of the G8 conference in Genoa in mid July. In a statement reminiscent of the Mexican Zaptatista guerillas from which the group took its initial inspiration (Ya Basta means "Enough is Enough" in Spanish), the group announced their intention to firmly oppose increasingly militaristic attempts to crush the anti-capitalist movement.
The statement read: "From the outskirts of this empire, from the several worlds that resist and grow dreaming of a better life for all, today, we, rebel subjects, formally declare war on you."
The mass gathering of global anti-capitalists in Genoa timed to coincide with the G8 meeting on July 20-22 is set to be the biggest standoff yet between anti-capitalist activists and the various organisations pushing globalisation.
Right wing media mogul and new Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlosconi, has expressed strong determination to prevent protestors disrupting the G8 conference and is deploying 20,000 police officers, 15 helicopters, four aircraft and seven naval boats to do the job. All travel into the city will be suspended for four days with air flights being rerouted to Turin. Activists arriving by plane have rebooked their flights for dates before the July 18 transport cut off. A red zone has been created within the city with access by protestors completely prohibited. Since coming to power with just 23 per cent of the vote, Berlosconi has declared he wants Italy to be "America's best friend in Europe", and is likely to instigate heavily proactive policing to flag up Italy's capitalist credentials in front of George W Bush. All stops are being pulled out by the Italian government after the World Bank pulled out of a conference in Barcelona scheduled for June, after fears that the Spanish police would not be effective enough in stopping anti-capitalist protestors.
Ya Basta are part of the Tute Blanche (White overalls) movement so named because they dress in heavily padded white overalls to minimise the injury caused by the blows of riot police truncheons. Their extensive training for the protest has included sea assault practice in a lake near Milan. In June the group simulated an attack on Genoa's port using canoes, rafts and tyres. According to one member of the group: "There will be 3000-4000 of us in the water." The anti-capitalist protestors gathering in Genoa hail from many different parts of the world and will include the British white overall movement, the Wombles.
Ya Basta's declaration of war states: " This is a choice that 'you' made because we do prefer peace and this decision will mean defying your arrogance and your power, but we have to do it.
It is our duty to try to stop you in order to end injustice.
It is our duty to give voice to our brothers and sisters of the world who are suffering because of you.
It is our duty not to surrender to the fear of your armies and to raise our heads.
It is our duty because we declare wars only when we are obliged to do so.
But if we have to choose between fighting your occupying troops and passive acceptance, we have no doubts. We will fight."
Rumours that George W Bush will be residing on an Aircraft Carrier docked off shore for the duration of his G8 attendance have yet to be confirmed by the US officials.
* The full text of Ya Basta's declaration of war can be read on SQUALL resources pages.
* An interview with a Ya Basta activist can be read in "Ain't No Stopping Em Now" on the SQUALL Features section