NEWS » Milan Expo Protests

Milan Expo Protests

On the first of May Milan Expo was inaugurated and opened to the public. “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is its motto.

The Event was overshadowed by protests and clashes with the police. Among the pacific protesters there was a group of black blocs who caused damage to banks and shops and set fire to cars.

Due to the cars on fire the centre of Milan was filled with smoke where groups of black bloc protesters, with their faces covered in order not to be recognised, threw stones and challenged police who were in riot gear. 180 suspects have been identified and only five have been arrested so far.

The confrontation came hours after the opening ceremony of Expo, making it a sad start to the six months event which is supposed to boost the Italian economy.

Thousands of people visited the specially created site on the outskirts of Milan. After months of preoccupation about delays partly caused by the corruption scandals that hit the organization last year, most of the construction work for the Expo had been completed just in time.

The violence of the black bloc group ruined the pacific protest against Expo. To be contested were: the overbuilding of the expo area, the drainage of the land which had not been completed, and the lack of control by the institutions, which led to corruption. The working conditions were also under fire. 70 thousand jobs had been promised but a trade union agreement allowed the use of 18 thousand volunteers and 200 stagers. Expo hired less than 700 people. Polemics arose also for the type of contracts and the poor wage provided. The involvement of corporations like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola was also criticised.

Expo was decided seven years ago and it was welcomed by the new Renzi government as an opportunity for Italy to show that the country was ready to emerge from the crisis under his leadership.

Organisers predict 20 million visitors over six months and a €10 billion boost to economic activity.

Many of the pavilions were not fully operational due to organizational problems. Belgium’s pavilion opened without the country’s celebrated beer and fries.

Bangladesh was unable to open because the staff couldn’t arrive due to visa problems. 

Giulia Lombardo

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