“We will not end up like the Panda” Interviews from the flashmob

Citizen-pandas, animals on the way to extinction. All it takes is a mask on the face to send out a cry of both alarm and hope. One hundred fifty people did so this afternoon, gathered on the steps of the Church of the Salute after a call went out from the group #Venicemyfuture. The result was a flash mob called “A fish called Panda” to ask, one more time, for policies that are attentive to the residents and not bent to the tourist business.

“Venetians on the way to extinction?” was written on one placard. And also: “Better Pandas than jackals.” They asked “Save our houses”. Praising Unesco, they asked for help against the assault of tourism. In the front line were children as a symbol of hope, and behind them the Church of the Salute “to exorcise other epidemics like the exodus of residents, a virus that does not have natural causes but is born from Man’s craving to do business – explained the group’s spokesman Marco Gasparinetti – We appeal to the solidarity of the world because Venice, its inhabitants and its culture are the heritage of Humanity and not the property of a few private interests”. Nicoletta Frosini of #Venicemyfuture added: “We want to resume living in a city for residents, we ask for provisions for the young and care of the traditional activities”.

More than a few young people responded to the call: among these was the Sicilian actor, Giuseppe Amato, who has chosen to live in the lagoon. “Policy should safeguard the residents, Venice is the city of its residents, not a theme park”, he said. Next to him was Gloria Dell’Andrea: “Venezia must be respected”. Giulia Armani instead has lived in the city her whole life: “the residents grow fewer and older, local stores and services disappear, finding a solution is difficult but the policies demonstrate that there is no will to do anything”. Elena Riva clarified that “we are not hostile to the tourists, but the fragility of Venice must be recognized, the city must be respected”.  And there were those, such as the retiree Giovanna who attested instead to another Venice made by proprietors who rent to young couples. “I rented to the tourists, then I had a different idea – she related – we need to have trust in the young and to help them”.

Also in attendance at the event were Italia Nostra, city councilor (PD) Monica Sambo, who on Monday announced a motion to request a tightening of the regional law governing tourist rentals; the president of the Municipality Giovanni Martini and Gruppo Viva San Marco were there as well. Likewise in attendance were the promoters of the separation of Venice and Mestre Marco Sitran and Gian Angelo Bellati who explained: “thanks to the bad governance of the City, civic associations have been formed with a shared objective to create a large opinion movement to save Venice”. In parallel the social campaign PandAmonio was launched: starting in the morning the Facebook profile pictures of members became Pandas with a stylized Venice placed on one eye.

Source: Corriere del Veneto, Feb. 18, 2017

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