Protesters camp out at Infrastructure ministry
Sit-in started Saturday after demo by leftwingers21 October, 14:21
(ANSA) - Rome, October 21 - Dozens of activists demanding better social housing continued to camp out Monday in front of the Italian government's Infrastructure ministry, extending a string of protests that began on the weekend. Their make-shift camp was established after protests Saturday snarled traffic in parts of Rome as tens of thousands of largely peaceful demonstrators rallied for a number of causes, but wreaked far less havoc than authorities feared.
"The siege does not end here," warned one banner hanging above the collection of tents in a parking lot near Rome's Porta Pia square, where protesters settled to back demands for better social housing as Italy struggles through its worst recession in 20 years. As police kept a close eye on the protest site, activists said they will remain encamped until their housing and income concerns are addressed.
The protestors, calling for "a house and an income for all," said they expect to meet on Tuesday with Maurizio Lupi, minister of transport and infrastructure.
Activist Paolo Di Vetta said he expects the minister will also call on mayors of Italian cities to coordinate actions on housing problems during their annual meeting in Florence later this month.
"Tuesday, the minister is calling the mayors of other cities for a discussion on the conditions that we dictated, which for us are still valid," Di Vetta said Monday.
"On these conditions, we will not step back," he continued, adding that activists are considering other types of actions to back their demands. The activists are also calling for an end to evictions and foreclosures of householders who have fallen behind on mortgage payments.
The housing activists were among the tens of thousands of mostly left-wing demonstrators who marched through Rome Saturday in opposition to a range of issues, including a controversial high-speed rail project linking Northern Italy and France.
The mostly-peaceful weekend protests were much smaller than expected by police who were braced for the kind of destructive, violence demonstrations that created enormous havoc in Rome exactly two years earlier.
On Saturday, traffic was impeded in areas of Rome and public transit slowed as some demonstrators set garbage bins on fire, set off firecrackers and clashed with police outside Rome's Ministry of the Economy. At least 16 people were arrested on the weekend, but damage was minimal as police turned out in force and said they detained several anarchist leaders on Friday in an attempt to prevent more serious violence.