L'Aquila, 28 February 2010
6000 residents of the Italian town of L'Aquila have demonstrated against the large piles of rubble still occupying the town centre.
Article of Paddy Agnew, journalist for the Irish Times "LAST SUNDAY, the patience of many of the L’Aquila earthquake victims ran out.
An estimated 6,000 of them joined in a “wheelbarrow protest” in the old centre of L’Aquila, the Abruzzo town hit by a devastating earthquake last April which killed 307 people and left more than 40,000 homeless.
Focus of the protest was the 4½ million tonnes of rubble which, 11 months later, still choke the eerily empty town centre. In a symbolic gesture, the protesters brought their own wheelbarrows and began to move the rubble out of the town’s “centro storico”.
For much of the last year, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been pointing to his decisive, interventionist handling of the L’Aquila earthquake as proof of his “can-do” entrepreneurial spirit. He would build people new homes and he would get the town back on its feet, he promised.
But now, many of the earthquake victims no longer believe him. From the beginning, many argued that the government’s reconstruction programme had its priorities all wrong, concentrating energy and funds on the building of 20 “New Towns”, comprising seismic-proof permanent buildings, in a huge extended area around L’Aquila."
Environmentalists and architects argued that the new towns, several of which have indeed been completed and assigned to earthquake victims, represented a distraction from a more important priority – namely the restoration and reconstruction of L’Aquila’s mediaeval centre. Worse still, critics suggested these new towns were little more than a glorious opportunity for building speculation(...)"
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