The Ever Changing March
In March to Athens on 16 February 2012 at 20:17
Day 101-XXVII, Salerno.
Salerno, February 16
Some people joined us in Naples. By now only one of them is left. And we still keep losing pieces. The camper and the five comrades travelling on board had been briefly back in Naples. They stayed behind, together with four other marchers.
Now, the news coming in from Greece has had an electrifying effect on others. Comrade Getafe, who walked all but one of the legs of the march on Brussels, has departed this evening. With him comrade Laurentina, who has lately been trying to reconcile the different factions in our march.
Tomorrow we go inland, towards the snowy peaks. It will once again be a different march, and it will be hard.
I have been tempted to go to Athens as well, but for the moment I will stay. Of course I want to be there when the Greek people finally reclaim their sovereignty from the stranglehold of international finance, but I don’t think we’re there yet. I hope the Greeks will wait for spring.
On the way to Salerno, comrade Max told me about the history of the march from Nice to Rome. He is one of the veterans from the start, together with Marianne, and many of the rebels.
I’ll briefly pinpoint the highlights of his account.
The march started under good auspices. In Cannes at the beginning of november, international and financial authorities decided on Greek and Italian matters. In Nice, the indignados staged a protest, and shortly after they set course to those very countries. Within weeks after departure, regime change was peacefully performed in Greece and Italy, and technocrat bankers were nominated as heads of government.
Up to Genoa, the march camped out on the beach and did little political activity. They were about fifteen to twenty persons, almost all of them French. In Genoa they held their first big assembly on the stage of Piazza dei Ferrari. After that, the march split.
Some people went on a litoral march, to carry on camping on the beach, and the rest crossed the Apennines into red Emilia, the traditional land of the partisans.
From Parma through Reggio and Modena to Bologna, they were received in social centres by left wing activists. But mostly this time is remembered as the days of Mimo.
Mimo was a schizophrenic. During the day he was an amiable and gentle person, but during the night he could turn into a screaming madman with a special love for knives. Especially when he drank, and especially in closed places.
He caused a stir by menacing people. He got thrown out more than once. In the end, the march declined to camp inside a social centre for fear of Mimo making trouble. Mimo took it personal, and he left.
In Bologna, the marchers were fined for camping on public soil. They burned the fines in front of camera’s and police.
During the second crossing of the Apennines, from Bologna to Florence the march temporarily decided to split again. Many went to the ‘Valley of the Elves’ above Pistoia, where tribes of agro-anarchical hippies are living in comunes.
In Florence the march arrived when three Senegalese were killed out of racist motives. Marchers participated in a demonstration, and camped on the squares where the murders had taken place.
In Siena, they camped outside of one of the oldest still active banks in the world, Monte dei Paschi di Siena. While the police was notifying people that they couldn’t camp there and that the two tents should be removed, other tents sprouted up, and more, and more. In the end, the police officers found themselves in the midst of a complete camp, and they left.
Christmas was celebrated in Cortona, in a desacrated church with lots of old musical instruments and wine. From the sound of it, it must have been a fabulous party.
In Perugia the camp was built in the middle of Corso Vannucci, one of the most beautiful streets of Italy. It was there that Timon the flamboyant Finn inspired the marchers to stop showing documents to the police.
Spoleto was a dark page in the history of the march. By now, it had been joined by a substantial Spanish contingent. From some of them I had already heard accounts of ‘the facts of Spoleto’.
It was the day before New Year, there had been party in the square. There had been a drunk person molesting the campers. At a certain point, the tribe reacted. Fired on by alcohol, the warriors went to the defense. They knocked out the molester, and they did so with excessive use of force.
The day after was one of collective shame. As pacifists, people had failed. Yet again they turned out to be humans after all.
A week later, the march arrived in Rome and got a great welcome on Piazza del Popolo.
From the eight persons who started the litoral march, only two reached Rome. They had lived such incredibly scarry adventures that none of them ever dared to talk about it. Most of the time, they just sat silent in the square.
So when I ask comrade Max his opinion on the current troubles of the march, he lifts up his shoulders and smiles. He has already seen a lot. Today is nothing special.