- Created: Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:19
- Written by Cat Wiener
FRFI 213 February / March 2010
The fascist policies of the Italian government are finding fertile ground, as blame for everything from crime and social instability to unemployment is heaped on
Immigrants battle racists
At the beginning of January, hundreds of African immigrants were driven out of the town of
Rosarno has for years depended on immigrant labour to pick the oranges, tangerines and kiwi fruit on which its economy relies. The immigrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, were housed in disused factories and barracks, often with no electricity or running water, in the most appalling conditions, described by the local priest as ‘something out of Dante’s inferno’. During the picking season, they worked a 12-14 hour day, for which they were paid €20 – a quarter of which had to be handed over to the Ndrangheta, who control the area.
On Thursday 7 January, white youths, thought to be from the Ndrangheta, fired from a car at a group of immigrants returning from work, injuring two of them. In response, and in protest against their conditions, hundreds of immigrants took to the streets, accusing the townspeople of racism and demanding to be treated with dignity. Cars were burned and windows smashed as they fought pitched battles against residents, who were spurred on by the mafia, and the police, who used tear gas against the protesters. Some were beaten with iron bars. Roberto Saviano, author of
In December, in northern Italy, the town of Coccaglio launched Operation White Christmas – an official drive to identify and expel as many ‘non-Europeans’ as possible before Christmas. Northern League Mayor Claretti was given new powers to check the residence status of all foreigners in the town with house-to-house searches: ‘We just want to start cleaning the place up.’ His councillor for security Claudio Abiendi, also a member of the Northern League, said that Christmas was not about hospitality but ‘the Christian tradition and our identity’. 3,000 people – out of a population of 8,000 – marched through the town to protest against such ethnic cleansing.
Backed by the vicious racist law passed by the Berlusconi government in August 2009 that criminalises ‘illegal’ immigrants, fascist elements in