On May 21 and 22, progressive sections in Italy demonstrated at the opening of the Global Health Summit in Rome. Their demand was for free and universal vaccination against COVID-19. Many organizations, including Potere al Popolo, Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), Giovani Comuniste e Comunisti (GC), Front of Communist Youth (FGC), Unione Sindacale di Base (USB), Italian Communist Party (PCI) took part in the demonstrations. Progressive trade unions also marked a health workers’ strike on May 21, demanding an end to profiteering from pandemic and precarious working conditions. Potere al Popolo organized protests across the country on Saturday, May 22, highlighting the demands of vaccines for all, public healthcare, social justice and the right to work and dignity of life.
The Global Health Summit focused at coordinating worldwide efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic and was co-chaired by the Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Leaders from the G20 countries, European Union (EU), and 15 international and regional organizations, including the UN, World Bank, IMF and ASEAN, participated in the summit.
Ahead of the protests, Giuliano Granato, the national spokesperson of Potere al Popolo, said, “Faced with a system that is as unfair as it is threatening to our very survival, we must reverse course, starting with making patents on vaccines fully public. While the world’s powerful parade in Rome for the G20, we must unite to ensure that our interests are heard. Our own lives are at stake.” He added, ” The majority of the Italian people are in favor of breaking the patent system on vaccines. Our governments are speaking on behalf of a tiny minority, Big Pharma, and not on behalf of their own people.”
The Front of Communist Youth (FGC) national secretary slammed the Global Health Summit saying it was a gathering of 20 major capitalist powers to celebrate the successful management of the pandemic while the reality is that “multinational profits have been placed before the health of millions of people around the world.” He added that “millions of people are still excluded from access to vaccines, on which they continue to make a profit.”
On Friday, during the demonstration in Rome against the Global Health Summit, Giovani Comuniste e Comunisti (GC) reiterated that “vaccines must be guaranteed to everyone, from India to Italy, from South Africa to Germany, because health is not a commodity but a right.”
Trade union Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) alleged that the neoliberal Mario Draghi government has already obliterated the health workers in the country.
The protesters also criticized the over 200 billion euros (approximately USD 244 billion) worth National Recovery and Resilience Plan approved by the Mario Draghi government. Contropiano.org accused the government of using the health emergency as a weapon to increase profits and power of large companies, of doing private business with public money, to further reduce the public welfare state and labor rights.