On 9 October, militants of the neo-fascist extreme right took advantage of a massive demonstration in Rome, called to protest against the compulsory vaccination certificate [1] against Covid-19, to go towards the Italian government and violently attack the national headquarters of the CGIL.

The low police presence helped dozens of neo-fascist activists to easily penetrate and destroy the offices of the historic headquarters of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL).

The brutal squadronist attack was massively condemned by political, trade union and social forces worldwide. In Italy, various sectors of politics and society demanded the outlawing of all neo-fascist movements, including Forza Nova, the main perpetrator of the attack.

The following day, at least a dozen people were arrested and charged with various offences, including Roberto Fiore and Giuliano Castellino, leaders of Forza Nuova, and Luigi Aronica, a former member of the far-right terrorist group Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR).

“The attack was not directed against the CGIL per se, but against what it represents, because trade unions are a bulwark of democracy,” Pietro Ruffolo, European and international policy coordinator for the FLAI CGIL, told La Rel.

“What happened in Rome is a very serious event and we cannot and must not underestimate it. An important thinker wrote that history never repeats itself in the same way, but we must be prepared to recognise signs that the democratic system is once again under attack,” he added.

The renowned trade unionist, also a member of the IUF World Executive Committee, recalled that fascism in Italy grew out of violent acts such as these, and that it came to power because there was no capacity to understand and counteract what was happening.

“Today we know that this is the way to attack democracy and we must be prepared to prevent and avoid creating the conditions for new and deeper acts of violence,” he said.

“The Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of association and we must ensure that this is respected. Attacks must not only be condemned but also prevented. Last Saturday it would have been enough for the public forces to cordon off the area and nothing would have happened,” Ruffolo lamented.

“This is how fascism began”.

For him, the seriousness of what happened in Rome calls for serious reflection.

“It is something that the country has already experienced in the past, and we know the consequences and after-effects of it all too well. On the other hand, it is worrying that the security forces have not understood, nor perceived, the danger that social unrest could turn into attacks on democracy and citizen coexistence”.

These violent acts – continued Ruffolo – “should be an eye-opener, both for the citizens and for the competent bodies in terms of guaranteeing freedoms and respect for the Constitution”.

Finally, the FLAI CGIL leader recalled that the pandemic has made economic and social problems even more acute, and that everyone must commit themselves to getting out of this situation.

“The government forces must ensure that the unrest does not turn into acts that are at odds with free civil coexistence and with the system of guarantees provided by the Constitution,” he said.

“Likewise, citizens and civil, political and social organisations must maintain an active role in democratic life and put pressure on the competent bodies to do their duty.

That is why – concluded Ruffolo – the three trade union confederations (CGIL, CISL and UIL) have called for a national demonstration in Rome against all fascism.


[1] The so-called green pass is compulsory to attend public activities, including work.

Source: Rel IUF