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Political Editorial

Italy more divided than ever for the 150th anniversary of its unification

Mario Masciullo, eTN  Jan 19, 2011

(eTN) - Celebrations of the 2011 year-long event inaugurated by Mr. Napoletano, President of the Italian Republic, had its kick-off at a time when the country is more divided than ever by political events. Dissonance among political figures who are fighting for their predominance, are not taking care of a disgruntled Italian population frustrated by the inadequate and corrupt leadership unable to control the economy. The system has so far created unemployment and rising poverty.

The glittering Christmas decorations, which throw a fairy-tale atmosphere in the streets of Italian large towns, did not hide the truth: for many Italians, there was little this year to cherish or celebrate. For millions of Italians, it was indeed only window shopping. They brought back home bitterness, dissatisfaction, and rage for being unable to satisfy the needs and expectations of their children, unable to fulfill the promise to pay their debts.

The festive Christmas atmosphere was shadowed by many students marching through the streets of Rome city center in protest, attempting in vain to invade the Senate building, considered as the "Sancta Sanctorum" of the Politian shelter. One of the demonstrations turned violent in a way not seen since 1968.

Drastic cuts in Italy’s fiscal budget translated into higher costs for students wishing to go to universities, but safeguarded all the benefits and advantages of hundreds of local politicians, representing billions each year in salaries and fringe benefits. Taxpayers are the leftovers of this policy and continue to be the victims of mafia groups controlling large sectors of the country’s economy. All of this takes place with the blessing of some unscrupulous politicians. A typical example was recently highlighted when multi-million euros of public debt due from a Caribbean country to Italy had been written off to the personal profit of some powerful politicians.

The lack of commitment of many polititians explains why so many disasters recently plagued Italy. Most evident is the disastrous state of conservation of 80 percent of Italy’s cultural sites - including some integrated into the UNESCO World heritage List - a situation to be blamed on the irresponsible conduct of the Italian Ministry of Arts and Culture.

The collapse of the "House of the Gladiators" in Pompei is just one of the most exposed disasters to the entire world. It forced Italy‚Äôs President Napolitano to express loudly his ‚Äúshame,‚ÄĚ a word which was echoed across the world. And the Pompei archeological site is unfortunately not the only one. Far from being a lesson, the vanishing of the ‚ÄúHouse of Gladiators‚ÄĚ generated irresponsible reactions from members of the government: ‚ÄúPompei has more to come to light,‚ÄĚ stated by the Minister of Culture, while the Minister of Economy explained that ‚Äúculture does not fill people‚Äôs stomach‚ÄĚ to justify the miserable budget provided to preserve Italy‚Äôs rich cultural heritage. This is blind thinking, considering that cultural tourism has become an important part of Italy‚Äôs appeal to visitors. Does not tourism generate a big resort for all countries in the world?

Many international writers have reported the dangers in which Italian art sites and monuments are maintained, including a recent book of an Italian journalist denouncing this shameful situation. The book brings to light the situation in which numerous Italian masterpieces of art lay hidden in filthy shelters, at the risk of falling in ruins.

The ministers in charge of control are blind and deaf in front of the screaming for safety by powerless Italians and associations. Their main scope is “to appear, dictate rules, and tell people to act honestly“ without giving a good example.

The group of politicians under the command of the prime minister are very active in producing ‚Äúincorrect information‚ÄĚ relying on distorted statistics supporting the government. What about an advertising campaign to save the life of dogs and cats? Or those costly brochures and ads giving advice on how to behave with juniors while on holiday? These are some examples among many of ‚Äúuseful‚ÄĚ public money spending.

Any public criticism on unnecessary spending is promptly deemed as necessary. This is done at the cost of more serious problems such as increasing poverty for the Italian middle class.

If Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy’s much revered protagonist hero of the country’s unification process in the 19th century, would be back today, he would probably feel sad to see how the current government and his Prime Minister Mr. Berlusconi does not spare any efforts to deeply divide Italy.

Italy more divided than ever for the 150th anniversary of its unification
Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1807-1882

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