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Gondoliers Block Venice Grand Canal

May 30, 2002

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VENICE, Italy (AP) _ Hundreds of gondolas blocked Venice’s Grand Canal on Thursday to protest street hawkers who gondoliers say drive away their customers.

About 200 gondoliers refused to take passengers and gathered in front of Venice’s city hall, which is located near the Rialto Bridge, one of the lagoon city’s best-known landmarks.

The protest disrupted morning boat traffic on the channel, according to a city council spokeswoman, Michela Camozzi.

Scores of street vendors take up positions along Venice’s waterways every day, selling clothes, bags and souvenirs.

Gondoliers claim the hawkers, many of them illegal immigrants from Africa, drive tourists away by harassing them. They are asking authorities to take action against them, said Camozzi.

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