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“L’arba Sicula” – The ongoing crisis in Sicily –

Video translation: (both in Sicilian & Italian)
“‘nnipinnenza – Isula sugnu, e Isula vogghju ristari” – Independence – An island, I am – An island I want to remain”(Sic.)

“Dal 1945, al giorni nostri – un solo grido” – Since 1945, to our present day – one single cry” (Ital.)

 

The Austerity crisis – spreading beyond Sicily to the rest of South Italy and other locations –

Most likely this news will eventually spread to the mass media in the times to come – but i wanted to share some world news that has been making headlines overseas….and is something that I have been watching closely since it began and affects me deeply as it is a part of my heritage, as one of part Sicilian descent –

Since as long as i can remember, the little island of Sicily, a nation-island in the heart of the Mediterranean – has been plagued for many centuries under oppression from foreign rule – lending it to its unique and distinctive culture, as well as its very own history (which could fill an entire book on its own) and its own language (La Lingua Sicula) – from the ancient Greeks, to the Sarecens, Arabs, and Normans – each civilization has left its mark on the island…..and overtime has shaped a culture and a people that are at once, passionate of their own identity and together – with strong roots and blood….it is not uncommon for many to claim “Sicilian” ethnicity, instead of “Italian” — and in fact….are indeed a distinct ethnic group (closely related in many ways to the “Maltese” in the South – Malta is considered, “the mirror of Sicily’s past”) –

It is no wonder why, for so many times over….the Sicilian people continue to fight arduously for an island that has essentially belonged to every civilization that has passed through it except for its own native inhabitants – an island that is, since the “Risorgimento” era of Giuseppe Garibaldi (the unification of modern Italy) – and officially since 1945…has become a region of Italy, an autonomous region….But as some come to know….Sicily has never been exactly Italy…..the flavors of North Africa and Greece still echoes in in the Sicilian air……and still to this day – That has always remained…..pumping in the hearts of “Li Siculi” ~

Right now – there is a very significant political and cultural revolution going on in present-day Sicily….that has sent waves of uprising across the island…..which recently has even begun to spread beyond Sicily itself, into South Italy and into the very heart of the Italian govt. itself, “Rome”

The Sicilian uprising, in short, began last January. –  as the Italian govt (w/ president Giorgio Napoletano and controversial Prime Minister, Mario Monti) – decided to place pressure on Sicily’s own economy by rising prices on its exports (primarily its petrol, which makes up almost half of Sicily’s economy…and much of it is taken from Sicily to much of the profit, North of Italy) – and raise the price of gas to excessive levels…..(as part of the overall sovereign debt crisis in Europe) — Already striken by long-term widespread poverty for many many years…..taking it as a direct insult, the Sicilian people decided that “enough was enough” – and took matters into its own hands, which began the revolt against the Italian state, dubbed, “The New Sicilian Vespers 2012”

Named after the Sicilian Vespers, which was a major rebellion that took place against French Angevin rule in the 13th century…..the people of Sicily took it to the streets and for five days, essentially blocked all the major ports and roads (esp. in Messina…considered the entry point into Sicily) – a major political organization, called…“Shock Force” – organized the “Pitchforks Movement” – “Il Movimento dei Forconi” – which represented all the poor sheepherders and farmer unions…..and protested against the unfair rise in costs – As each day went by, more local support came from trucker unions and even including the fishing industry….small businesses….as well as school students…..local citizens, learning about what was going on….angrily protested alongside – Which then continued well beyond the 5-day blockade into what is going on currently ~

Evoking its long history of past oppression under foreign rule….Sicilian outrage began to cry throughout the island…..as continued poverty and homelessness increased…..blaming the Italian state for its, “failed promises and political lies” – and essentially treating the island unfairly as a “colony” of sorts….failing to fully instate the “Sicilian Statute” which was promised to Sicily when it became a part of Italy under the Italian constitution in 1945…..hence, the continuing poverty and prejudice that exists today –

(In short, The special “Sicilian Statute” – grants Sicily, full autonomy and its benefits of a self-ruled government and economy within Italy…as well as equal fairness towards Sicilians under the eyes of the govt)

Shouts of “Per lo Statuto” (for the statute) started to ring through the streets as things became more heated…..focusing on not just politics, but on the very core identity of the Sicilian people…..Since 1945, waves of independence movements have emerged, most most notably the M.I.S. (Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano) – and once again, calls for independence from Italy have become more stronger and passionate than ever…..As marching protests spread across the entire island, from the capital of Palermo, to Catania in the East, the 2nd largest city…..raising the flag of Sicily, the ancient “Trinacria” – the three-legged ancient symbol – and wearing the “Red and Yellow” (the Sicilian colors) – with pride…..and shouting, in Sicilian, “vogghjamu ‘nnipinnenza! – Nuatri Semmu Siculi ‘nzemmula pi sempri” (We want independence! We are Sicilians together forever)

Thankfully, much of the protests….although full of passion and earnest determination….have been peaceful….but it is only a matter of time before, things start to churn and burn ~ (in the past month or so….people started fighting back against police, sent by the Italian state, from evicting them from their homes…unable to pay the rising costs in living as well….forcing residents to live in more homeless and poverty….violence against the police has sprung….with people getting injured, to some self-immolating themselves as a last resort)

Going on currently:

With local Sicilian presidential elections coming up in the next 2 weeks (yes, they do have their own president) – things have begun to heat up…..as the people of Sicily decide on their future – many want a change….from the old….into the the new — so it will be very interesting to see what will happen! (One of the candidates is Mariano Ferro, who strongly supports the spirit of the Trinacria and the liberation of its people…..)

— Ahead of the elections, I just learned that even school students….just yesterday….protested in the streets, about 5,000 students in Palermo, burning their school I.D’s in unison while shouting cries against Italian prime minister Monti’s austerity cuts also affecting school tuition fees……

http://www.demotix.com/news/1502669/5000-students-palermo-set-fire-their-voting-cards-protest#media-1502612
Also, with the Austerity cuts continuing, the situation is also beginning to spread beyond Sicily’s borders (the hardest hit area) – into the also poverty-stricken Southern Italy and some places in the North (such as Turin) — students there also protesting against the exorbitant fee increases….

Will be watching this closely as things progress…..but It’s quite sad though….that what is going on in my ancestral island….isnt being given much attention in the news or major humanitarian organizations…..(it is difficult, in fact, to find all this information i’ve shared) – I feel it’s a situation that must not be ignored and should be known to others……by raising awareness and educating others ~
May the undying spirit live strong……”Trinacria” –

“One of the protests from Catania”

The unofficial Sicilian National Anthem – “L’innu Nazzjunali ra Sicilia” (translated into Italian subtitles)