By Guy Dinmore in Decimoputzu, Sardinia
FT.com (financial times online)
Published: December 4 2007 02:10
Sharks are circling Sardinia. Tourists need not worry however – it is bankrupt farmers who are having to fight off speculative predators grabbing land at forced auctions.
Criticism of the European Union is rare in Italy but, on this Mediterranean island, farmers are cursing Brussels, their regional government and Rome for the mess they feel they were duped into with offers of cheap loans 20 years ago.
“Our natural calamity comes not from God or the land but those politicians in Brussels,” said Gino Mazo at a packed meeting in the town of Decimoputzu, the epicentre of a farmers’ revolt.
One after another, smallholders related how their lives were being ruined. Cheers greeted the farmer who answered demands for loan repayments by literally walling up a bank manager in his local Bank of Sardinia branch. Working on the fringes, activists of the small Sardinian independence movement handed out leaflets pledging non-violent action to stop the court-ordered auctions.
The crisis reflects tensions between Sardinia’s relatively autonomous regional authority, the central government and Brussels.
Renato Soru, the region’s governor, founded Tiscali, the communications company, in the capital Cagliari. The wealthy businessman sees a future in education, technology, science parks and tourism.
[READ THE ARTICLE: Sardinia’s farmers fend off the sharks]
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007