Wednesday, March 14, 2012

State suicides in Italy

Prime Minister Mario Monti is gaining an increasing success in foreign politics. 'The Time' sees him as a possible saviour of Europe. We are all very thankful to President Monti if Italy is improving its international role. What is not so well-known abroad is a financial problem which hopefully President Monti will take seriously and urgently into consideration as it is a matter of life or death.
I am talking about the amazing number of suicides committed by Italian entrepreneurs who can no longer face financial difficulties due to the fact that the Italian State does not pay them for the goods and services it owes them. Many factories and shops close down because of state debts.
It is not just a matter of life or death of individuals: Italian economy is at risk.

A couple of titles can give an idea how serious the problem is:

The State does not pay the bill: 50 entrepreneurs commit suicide:

The State owes him €200,000: Antonio Simbari climbs up a lattice as a form of complaint:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Residence permits by point-system

Safeeyah Kharsany, a South African journalist I met in Treviso, invited me to publish this article about the Government's new decisions about residence permits in Italy:

The Integration Agreement: the Italian Government introduces yet another racial law

After the xenophobic security law and the special ethnic regulations in Roma settlements, the government is about to introduce the “residence permit by point-system”. This is a serious violation of human rights that must be immediately stigmatized and corrected by the international political and legal institutions.

Rome, February 6th, 2010. The alchemy which allows the centre-right to remain in power in Italy lies at the root of a political, civil and legal aberration. In order to survive, the present majority needs the support and backing of the Northern League - the anti-immigration, anti-minority, anti-southern Italy and anti-European party. In this sick climate, in which democratic laws are continually ignored and human and civil rights trampled on, the Northern League is free to dictate laws and measures against immigration which are automatically approved (despite criticism from civil society) without them being validated by the Constitution.

For years the Northern League has been the protagonist of xenophobic and anti-ziganist campaigns. It is no coincidence that a total of thirty-six of its exponents (including the Mayor of Treviso) have been committed for trial by the Preliminary Hearing Judge of Verona and accused of “forming an armed band”.

The defendants include the top Northern League politicians: Umberto Bossi, Roberto Maroni, and Roberto Calderoli. We must also remember that several Lega Nord leaders (like the deputy mayor of Treviso, Giancarlo Gentilini) have been charged and found guilty of racism or assault. Not to mention Mario Borghezio, who was found guilty of “aggravated arson for reasons of discrimination”. Racist and violent gangs who make use of the Legal Nord name and proclamations are rife in Italy: our human rights activists themselves have been targeted by these groups and have also received death threats.

In October 2008, Senator Bodega, the spokesman for the Northern League, announced through the press that his party was about to put to the government for its approval, a “residence permit by point system” reserved for foreign citizens. The permit foresees a series of objectives - starting with a home and employment – which will allow the immigrants to remain in Italy.

When, on March 23rd and 24th last year, the leaders of EveryOne Group met the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini, and the Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of the Interior, Alfredo Mantovano, in Rome they were given the promise that Italy would never approve and issue such an undemocratic law. But less than a year has gone by and the government is preparing to approve and ratify a “residence permit by point system” law, which will be known as the “Integration Agreement” law.

Yesterday, the Ministers of the Interior and Welfare announced the imminent introduction of this anti-foreigner law. Next week Roberto Maroni and Maurizio Sacconi will present the decree to the Council of Ministers. People applying for a resident permit for the first time will now have to sign this agreement which contains a series of obligations . Among these requirements is the obligation to have a home with characteristics that are almost impossible to comply to; steady employment in a period when thousands of qualified Italians are losing their jobs; the ability to speak Italian; possession of a National Health Service card, and a knowledge of the Italian Constitution. “Only yesterday,” said Maroni, “we were debating the regulations that envisage the signing of the Integration Agreement when the residence permit is issued.

This is the “security law” that sets out specific aims to be respected in the space of two years, the results of which are to be evaluated by the Immigration Counter. If the objectives have been reached then the person will be granted a residence permit, if not he or she will be expelled from the country. In this way we will guarantee full integration. In other words: I will tell you what you have to do in order to integrate into our society.

If you fulfill the obligations, then I will issue you with a residence permit, if you don't, then that means you don't want to integrate. We will only be applying this law to those applying for new permits. For the courses in the Italian language and culture, we will not be asking the immigrants for money, we will organize them ourselves in order to guarantee a uniform standard in all the regions and have everything under our control.” Sacconi added “the agreement lays out the immigrant's rights and duties: which are, as well as a knowledge of the language, the possession of a National Health card, 12 years' basic education, and transparent rent contracts”.

At the end of the two-year period the immigrant will have to have scored 30 points, which he or she will be assigned through exams in the Italian language, civic formation, historical culture, and the Constitution. If he commits a crime, points will be taken off. If after two years, the immigrant has not totalled a “score” of 30, he may be granted another year but after that he will be expelled from the country - even if he has a wife and children here or the lives of his family back in his homeland depend on his earnings here.

It is obvious that this new xenophobic law will bring about further conditions of irregularity, serious cases of blackmail from employers or those who rent out property to foreigners. The thousands of cases of slavery or those forced to prostitute themselves - already institutionalized in Italy by the “safety package” (94/2009) - will be aggravated and increased out of all proportion.

We cannot but agree with Giancarlo Bressa, (leader of the PD's parliamentary group for the Constitutional Affairs Commission in the Chamber), when he said: “Being a foreigner in Italy means being subjected to a scandalous social lottery in which the judges cheat right from the beginning. We are the most xenophobic country in Europe. A fine result, my compliments to Maroni and Sacconi”.

From a legal point of view, this “residence by point system” is an ethnic measure and therefore represents a further breach of human dignity and the individual's fundamental rights contained in the Charter of Nice (art. 1) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Preamble and art. 1). All citizens in a democracy, must be equal before the law, in that they are human beings (the equality between citizen and foreigner is based on precise articles of the Constitution: no. 2. (The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable human rights, 3 (equal social status) and 10, 2 (legal status of foreigners). Creating a special law for the right to reside in Italy is clearly illegal, because the rights and duties of the individual, without distinction, are already sanctioned by the laws in force.

As for people's rights, they must be the same for everyone. Article 2 of the Constitution rules that “The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable human rights” where “human” cannot only be intended to be “citizen” because there are international laws that regulate human rights - in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948, and the European Union's Charter of Human Rights.

The Constitutional Court has also established on several occasions that foreigners are protected by fundamental rights and that these rights concern the individual as such - again based on the articles laid down by the Constitution.

The introduction of special laws (like the “security package”), the regulations for ethnic groups (such as the “sociality pact” for the Roma people who live in conditions of authentic apartheid in ghetto-camps), and now the new “Integration Agreement” represent serious violations of human and civil rights that must be stigmatized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU institutions. and immediately quashed by Italian and International courts.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Support the campaign to defend freedom of speech in Italy

President Berlusconi accused the newspaper La Repubblica of libelling him.
The source of the accusation is not one or more derogatory articles about him, but a list of 10 questions the journalists would like to ask the Prime Minister in order to understand better his behavior as regards what happened recently: his parties with prostitutes, his would-be offers of political jobs in exchange for 'friendly' meetings ... and similar.
Obviously enough a political character is supposed to give answers to such questions. In other democratic countries he is probably supposed to dismiss himself immediately for such odd activities.
President Berlusconi is rich and powerful and Italy is not the best country as regards transparency.
If a man in his role can prevent common citizens and the press from expressing free opinions, the freedom of speech in Italy is in danger.

I invite all of you to sign La Repubblica's petition to defend freedom of speech in Italy:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The art of not paying fines in Naples

Andrea Vianello, Assurdo Italia, Baldini Castoldi, 2008

The book quoted above deals with some absurd situations which seem to be typically Italian.
I'd like to translate a passage referring to some methods used in Naples to avoid paying fines and penalties. See the original text below.

(pages 77-79)

Furelli [the protagonist of the story] stated that in Naples there were (maybe still there are) many ways not to pay fines.

The first method is that of the dead man: after someone dies, the local camorra boss buys some cars in his name. When those cars get fines, the fines are sent to the dead man's house, but, as we know, dead people cannot pay ...

Another method is that of the 'good' postman: the postman takes a fine to a certain person. The person opens the letter and sees that the amount is too high. The 'good' postman is available to state that the letter was sent to an 'unknown receiver' and the fine is sent back. If a fine is not paid within a certain time for an acceptable reason it is no longer mandatory to pay it. Furelli said that, at that time, 27% of the fines were sent back like this, with good or bad reasons.

Another method was that of the white document. The original fine was copied on a white document: faithfully, except for one or two zeros, which were canceled from the correct amount to be paid. So, if you had to pay 100,000 Lire, the fine could be reduced to 10,000.
In this way local authorities lost most of the sums.

Another method was that of the cheating lawyer. A lawyer or pseudo-lawyer was sent to a public office. He asked to see a document kept in rooms full of papers, and while he was alone in the office he put the fine somewhere out of order so that it would never be found again.

Another method is that of the flood: strangely enough, Furelli said, the store for fines in Naples was moved to an old school in ruin and full of water: the original documents were damaged by water and other liquids used for the building; then they were given to the Red Cross like useless papers.
If the original documents get lost, authorities cannot oblige people to pay the fines.

When Furelli was working in the Town Hall in Naples, in 1994, he could witness the first consequences of the Italian phenomenon 'crazy fines'. By means of computers, fines were recorded in succession up to number 99,000. When fines were hundreds of thousands the succession was interrupted and the list began again with the first numbers 1, 2 ... In this way the previous fines disappeared and were replaced by the new ones.

For local authorities in Naples getting the money for fines and penalties seem to be more difficult than winning the lottery.


Original text:

(pp. 77-79)
Sostiene Furelli infatti che per non pagare una multa a Napoli esistevano (oppure esistono?) molti metodi.

C'era il metodo del morto: un tizio tira le cuoia, il camorrista della zona mette le mani sul suo certificato di residenza e si intestano al deceduto un certo numero di automobili. Così, quando queste compiono un'infrazione, la multa arriva al morto, e si sa che i morti non possono pagare ...

C'era il metodo del portalettere 'buono': arrivato a casa del contravventore, i due controllavano insieme la cifra richiesta e, se era troppo alta, si richiudeva il tutto e si rimandava al mittente con la dicitura 'destinatario sconosciuto', così passavano i tempi previsti per legge e si sperava nella prescrizione. Sostiene Furelli che, all'epoca, il 27% delle multe tornavano indietro, a torto o a ragione.

Poi c'era il metodo del bollettino bianco: con la complitcità di qualche amico nell'ufficio giusto, si trascriveva il verbale su un modulo vergine e si toglieva uno zero. Centomila lire diventavano diecimila, il verbale risultava pagato ma il comune perdeva novantamila lire ..

Poi ancora il metodo dell'avvocaticchio: un legale o un presunto tale andava a chiedere di controllare un verbale, entrava in un archivio più simile a un magazzino impolverato che a un ufficio pubblico efficiente, e in un attimo di distrazione degli addetti, zac! rimetteva il verbale nel posto sbagliato, in pratica facendolo perdere per sempre.

Oppure quello più sistematico, il metodo allagamento: chissà come mai, sostiene Furelli, il centro deposito delle multe di Napoli venne un giorno spostato in una vecchia scuola diroccata, dove periodiche perdite di acqua finirono per danneggiare migliaia e migliaia di multe originali. E quando le rimanenti vennero trasferite in un locale dismesso della prefettura, i lavori di disinfestazione furono compiuti inavvertitamente con l'uso di liquidi corrosivi che distrussero altrettanti verbali, poi consegnati alla Croce Rossa come materiale fuori uso ...
E attenzione, la scomparsa del verbale originario è decisiva in caso di ricorso: il giudice di pace può pronunciarsi a favore del Comune solo se viene esibita la prima contravvenzione. Se questa non c'è, multa annullata, e soldi perduti!

Durante la sua gestione, inoltre, Furelli visse indirettamente nel 1994 anche il primo fenomeno di 'multa pazza' italiana. che fu dovuto proprio all'informatica, anche se non quella gestita da lui: il sistema computerizzato della concessionaria esattoriale era troppo antiquato e aveva un 'baco'. Dopo il numero 99.000 ripartiva da zero: così quando vennero iscritti a ruolo centinaia di migliaia di verbali non pagati, abbinando in ordine progressivo il numero di verbale al rispettivo contribuente, arrivati a centomila si ricominciò inavvertitamente da capo, e i primi della lista si ritrovarono appioppati verbali non loro, e giù per li rami. Grande scandalo, grandi proteste, e tantissime altre multe annullate.
Insomma, incassare una multa a Napoli era per il Comune proprio come vincere un terno al lotto.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gentilini's speech in Venice

The article copied below is taken from 'La Tribuna di Treviso' of September 17, 2008 and deals with Gentilini's speech at the Lega Nord Meeting in Venice on September 14, 2008.
Gentilini is the Vice-Mayor of Treviso.
His speech is written in the square 'Così parlò il vicesindaco'.
I translated it because it is worth letting foreigners know how racist a part of our political leadership is.

"People of the Lega Nord! The Lega woke up. Rome's walls are falling down, attacked by the Lega's weapons. My word is revolution. This is Gentilini's Gospel, the Decalogue of the first Sheriff-Mayor. I want a revolution against aliens, I want a revolution against nomads' and gypsies' camps. I destroyed two of them in Treviso. And now none is left, not even One. I want to get rid of the children who rob our old people. If Maroni [a minister of Berlusconi's government] says 'No tolerance', I want a double 'No tolerance'. I want a revolution against the TV and the newspapers criticizing the Lega. I will buy some plugs to shut their mouths and stuff their a... I want to see them no longer. I want a revolution against prostitutes. They must pay their taxes, too. Everybody pays taxes; they must pay, too. I want a revolution against those who want to open Islamic centers and mosques, including the church hierarchies who want to let them pray. No! They must go and pray in the deserts. I will open a factory of carpets and give them carpets, but they must go and pray in the deserts. Enough! I wrote to the Pope, too: Muslims must go back to their countries. I want a revolution against the courts of justice. Laws must be applied by Veneto judges. I want a revolution against those who want to give our old people's money to their foreign assistants. It is our money and I want it for myself. This is Gentilini's Gospel: all for us and only what is left for others. But nothing will be left. I want a revolution against the phone centers where people eat at night and piss on the walls. Let them piss in their mosques! I want a revolution against women's burqas and veils. I want to see a woman in her face, because behind the veil there may be a terrorist keeping a gun between his legs. Why don't they show their umbilicus instead? I wrote the President of the Republic that they should reward the usher who stopped the Muslim woman at the door of Ca' Rezzonico museum.
I want a revolution against those who say that we must eat Naples' rubbish. I will get it and grind it and then give it back to them because they produced it. I can't bear it. I want a revolution against those who want to give the foreigners the right to vote. I do not want to see black, brown, grey people teaching our children. What could they teach? The desert's civilization? Voting is just for us. I need the Lega's people. These are the words of Gentilini's Gospel. I need you. Keep close. I do not want to see these people walking around all day and night. I hug you. Up with Lega!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gentilini and racism in Italy

I am glad that the European Union looks at Italy as a country where racism may endanger the local population.
Racism is a frequent social problem in several societies but laws and political leaders should represent civilization and make it clear that racism is unacceptable nowadays.

The problem in Italy is that some politicians of the local government even boast of being racist.
I'd like to translate into English one of my recent posts, where I reported what Mr Gentilini said. Gentilini is a member of the Lega Nord party, which is one of the political parties belonging to the present government of Mr Berlusconi.
All the sentences are literally reported from one of the main Italian national newspapers, Corriere della Sera, on September 10, 2008.

Gentilini: "Spazi agli ebrei, mai ai musulmani".
"A Treviso ci sono i Testimoni di Geova e i Battisti, e con loro non c'è alcun problema. Se venisse la comunità ebraica a chiedermi uno spazio, glielo darei subito. Ma a quella islamica mai! Non c'è alcun margine di trattativa con una confessione che esorta i seguaci all'eliminazione dell'infedele."
([my translation] Buildings and places for Jews, never for Muslims. In Treviso there are some religious groups like Jehowah's Witnesses and Baptists. There are no problems with them. If the Jewish community wants a room, I would give them immediately. But never to Muslims! It is impossible to come to terms with a religion which wants the destruction of the infidels)

"Musulmani buoni? Sono tutti seguaci dell'Islam e la religione islamica invita non alla conversione degli avversari ma alla loro eliminazione: sono degli infedeli. Dunque finchè alla base della loro religione ci saranno questi presupposti, non credo vi possa essere alcun margine per una trattativa nella cattolicissima Treviso"
(Are Muslims good? They are all followers of Islam and the islamic religion does not want the conversion of their opponents but their deaths: they are all infidels. As far as their religion is based on such principles, our very catholic Treviso can have nothing to do with them)

"C'è una grande differenza tra l'Islam e la religione cattolica. I nostri ministri seguono una gerarchia che comincia dal popolo; loro hanno gli imam, fanno quello che gli dicono e quando qualcuno li rimprovera alzano le braccia: 'Non possiamo opporci'."
(There is a strong difference between Islam and the catholic religion. Our priests follow a hierarchy rising from the people; they are represented by imams and people must obey them. When someone reproaches them, they just raise their arms and say: 'We cannot refuse this')

"Io non mi sono mai sognato di costruire muri ma c'è un muro ideale a Treviso nei confronti di quanti vogliono occupare abusivamente il nostro territorio."
(I have never built a wall, but there is an ideal wall in Treviso against those who want to occupy our territory illegally)

"Se venisse da me la comunità ebraica, uno spazio glielo darei subito. Qui a Treviso ci sono anche i Testimoni di Geova e i Battisti, diverse sfumature ma alla base c'è sempre il Vangelo di Cristo. E non vanno confuse con l'Islam"
(If the Jewish Community comes and asks me for a room, I would soon give it to them. Here in Treviso Jehowah's Witnesses and Baptists live: both groups are based on Christ's Gospel. Nothing to do with Islam)

I want to add that in the recent meeting of Lega Nord in Venice Gentilini got more and more vulgar and openly racist and he even threatened journalists not to dare to criticize him.
If people listen to such vulgar and disrespectful sentences, they may think that it is nonsense not worth being considered.
The serious problem is that that man is a powerful politician and the vice-mayor of one important Italian towns, and Berlusconi government gave special superpowers to mayors and vice-mayors.
If the Italian government cannot realize how low we have fallen, I hope the European leadership can keep an eye on such potentially dangerous situations.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"La Padania"

"La Padania" is a daily newspaper published in the north of Italy. It represents the political party Lega Nord. What surprises is that nothing is written about foreign countries. This is strange enough in Italy, because even local newspapers ("Il Gazzettino" in Venice, "Il Resto del Carlino" in Bologna, "L'Arena di Verona") deal with foreign news.
Narrow-mindedness? Not by chance the Leghisti are openly hostile to the foreigners living in Italy.