2012 Sicilian protests
The 2012 Sicilian protests, also code-named by its organizers as Operation Sicilian Vespers (in Italian Operazione Vespri siciliani), has been a 5 days long blockade of roads and seaports that have brought Sicily and its economy to a standstill in January 2012. Similar protests affecting wider areas of Italy have broken out in December 2013.
Shock Force (in Italian Comitato Forza d'Urto) is a Sicilian political grouping which organized the Operation Sicilian Vespers, the 5 days long blockade of roads and seaports that have brought Sicily and its economy to a standstill in January 2012.
Under the Shock Force umbrella are represented other organisations, like the Pitchforks Movement (in Italian Movimento dei Forconi), an informal grouping of farmers, shepherds and breeders, or the Sicilian Trucking Association (in Italian Associazione Imprese Autotrasportatori Siciliani, AIAS), an association representing truck drivers and small logistics business interests. The founder of the Pitchforks movement was Martino Morsello, a 57 y.o. former Socialist councilor of Marsala.
Since the first day of the blockade, these have been joined and have gained widespread support from workers and small businesses in other sectors like the fishing industry, the building industry and also from the Sicilian students.
The Pitchforks Movement self-declares itself as “non-political” and “against party politics”. Unusually, the protest has been joined by members of both extreme right wing and left wing organisations.
The events are generally linked with the European sovereign debt crisis and the ongoing world economic crisis, but the last straw that precipitated the blockade and its widespread support were the excessively step raise of fuel costs experienced in recent weeks after the increase of the excise on fuels decided by the technocratic cabinet of the Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti.
The blockade started the 16 January, when roads, motorways and the gates of the major ports all around Sicily were blocked. A strategic target for the protesters were the Sicilian refineries, which are producing 42% of the Italian fuel production. Fuel shortage in the island soon followed.
The 16 January 2012, the Pitchforks Movement joined the operation Sicilian Vespers which blockading most of the main roads and seaports of the island, led to the suspension of most economic activities in Sicily.
There are reports of the blockade gaining a foothold in mainland Italy, in Calabria and even as far north as in Pescara. The blockade is having a negative impact also for the economy of the neighboring Malta.
The other main association involved in the blockade, the Sicilian Trucking Association (in Italian Associazione Imprese Autotrasportatori Siciliani, AIAS) must suspend the blockade after the fifth day, January 21, as per the Italian law, but the Pitchforks Movement, as other members of the Shock Force, may decide to continue indefinitely.
- On January 17, in Lentini a protester was slightly injured in the face by a small truck driver who was not joining the blockade.
- On January 19, near Catenanuova, one protester was left with his foot stuck under the wheel of a truck that had tried to break the blockade.
While the Pitchforks Movement has declared itself apolitical and politically agnostic, there have been claims it has as a closer relationship with the far-right party Forza Nuova, or with the Movement for Autonomies, the party of the sicilian head of government, Raffaele Lombardo.
However, also organisations close to the far left have joined the operation Sicilian Vespers protests.
- BBC News
- Iozzia, Giovanni (2012-01-05). "E’ nata "Forza d’Urto"" (pdf) (in Italian). Comitato Forza d'Urto. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Betlevy, Dana (2012-01-19). "Strikes, Protests Paralyze Sicily". The Epoch Time. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- "The Pitchforks Movement in Sicily". Struggles in Italy. 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Xuereb, Matthew (2012-01-17). "Truckers caught in Sicily blockade". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2012-01-21.