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Race Riots in Calabria
January 10, 2010 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Italians cheer as police move African immigrants out of a small town in Calabria, following clashes in which immigrant farmworkers were shot at, severely beaten and run over. Rosarno is said to be a hotbed of the 'Ndrangheta, which controls the labour market of illegalized seasonal day labourers living in inhuman and desperate conditions. While the Pope urges Italy to respect migrants, leftist newspaper 'il manifesto' put this on the front page.
posted by ts;dr (51 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.... Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.... There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. -Carl Sagan
posted by jock@law at 7:07 AM on January 10, 2010 [21 favorites]


All you Calabrese do the mambo like crazy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:12 AM on January 10, 2010


"During their protest they even surrounded the house of an old boss in the Pesce clan, which is powerful locally, something the Calabrians have never done."

The Pesce and Bellocco clans are both believed to be involved in racketeering at the nearby container port of Gioia Tauro.

Touadi said: "[African imigrants] need to be helped or the Italian south will this year become like Alabama in the 1920s, just as Rosarno is now."


So the African immigrants rebelled and were about to take down the mafia. And then the police came to break it up. And its all a huge mess.
posted by vacapinta at 7:22 AM on January 10, 2010


Italy seems really fucked. People used to point to it as civilized Europe, and so superior to the US. Yeah, right.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:47 AM on January 10, 2010


People used to point to it as civilized Europe, and so superior to the US.

I never really got that; maybe people were giving it extra points for historical contributions, but Italy's always seemed to me to be, spiritually, the pinnacle of Eastern European culture.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope we can avoid turning into yet another "see, X actually is more racist that Y" thread and instead just sadly agree that assholes are everywhere.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Welcome to District 9. Enjoy your stay.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]




Italy seems really fucked. People used to point to it as civilized Europe, and so superior to the US. Yeah, right.


- said the guy who's never been there.
posted by Zambrano at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


The video in the "desperate conditions" link really does have a District 9 feel to it.
posted by mediareport at 8:20 AM on January 10, 2010


If anyone is interested in learning more about the conflicting dynamics of modern Italy, I recommend reading Gomorrah. I'm not going to presume that I know more about Italy than the people who live there, obviously, but the book is great and pieces together lots of different cultural forces (immigration, organized crime, politics) that work together to keep Italy from becoming a modern, first world country.
posted by billysumday at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


For anyone wanting some lighter reading, I highly recommend Andrea Camilleri's crime novels. Really funny and entertaining but also heartbreaking.
posted by vacapinta at 8:28 AM on January 10, 2010


I looked up the last link in the original language and it calls the action against the protesters an action of the KKK, so it seems to agree with the Pope's call out against racism. Maybe we Italians are like the rest of the world: some of us are racists, and some of us aren't.
posted by francesca too at 8:30 AM on January 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Based on the links I've read here, which obviously only tell part of the story, it appears that racism is only a small part of what's going on here. It seems to be much more about the abuse dealt out by the mafia and suffered by the immigrants, their decision to stand up the local bosses, and the predictable violence that resulted. Italy does not have a strong enough federal government to stand up to local warlords, and that is a huge problem. Events like this are merely a result of the constant abuse doled out by a select few on the rest of the population.
posted by billysumday at 8:36 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think you are, at least never got that sense as I did in Sweden and North of England. similar time frames, work, industries, all in the same year. I'm not talking about anything overt but in general, after having worked on both coasts of the US, it was obvious that Europe overall had less experience with multicultural office environments where...*gasp*... the tall white guy on the team was not the boss adn the italians were the easiest to work with, no such problems of preset expectations at all

otoh, I could see why people might be upset by those who would tend to hang outside of bars and restaurants in turin trying to aggressively sell roses, if asian or a wide variety of narcotics if african. just observing, not making any value judgements. If they'd never seen doctors, engineers or start up gurus from the same places, what else were they to think?
posted by infini at 8:40 AM on January 10, 2010


"Clan" in Italian implies a criminal gang. By using the headline "Ku Klux Clan," Il Manifesto is saying that the local mafia is racist.
posted by gubo at 8:40 AM on January 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


the last bit is probably why there might be the challenge from the existing systems of such "informal trade" so to speak...
posted by infini at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2010


Italy seems really fucked. People used to point to it as civilized Europe, and so superior to the US.

There's more than one Italy.
posted by Sova at 8:46 AM on January 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Small battle breaks out between Guardian columnist Martin Kettle and the Italian embassy - not many dead...
posted by criticalbill at 9:00 AM on January 10, 2010


I never really got that; maybe people were giving it extra points for historical contributions, but Italy's always seemed to me to be, spiritually, the pinnacle of Eastern European culture.

Ah .... can we not do that please? Italy's government has been showing incredible human rights abuses for its own reasons. We don't need to attribute shitting on immigrants and minorities with the "culture" of an entire swath of the European continent.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What we learn:
there is racism not just in America
immigrants come to Italy because the It pop keeps declining and no longer sufficient workers.
Anger and rage get the Us against Them going, even among otherwise ordinary folks
The Left badmouths the govt and the anti-illegal immigrants position while the Right demands non-Italians be shipped out, to anywhere.

There will be more of this, with variations: illegals competing for jobs in our South West; anti-Muslim reactions in various European countries.

and then, later, water shortages and job scarcity will drive even more to various shores...and so it goes
posted by Postroad at 9:10 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


immigrants come to Italy because the It pop keeps declining and no longer sufficient workers

On both counts wrong.
posted by billysumday at 9:12 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


We don't need to attribute shitting on immigrants and minorities with the "culture" of an entire swath of the European continent.

Good point, MStPT; there is definitely a better way for me to express my feelings about the institutionalized backwardness of a country without coming across as one of those 'Fuck Texas' types.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apart from that I with you 100%. Italy's government, with regards to how it treats refugees, immigrants, migrant workers, Romani and non-connected Italians is pretty atrocious. I think they're probably second only to Greece as far as deplorable treatment of refugees goes. It's been a long time since the Renaissance, that's for sure.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2010


Well, Italy is in Western Europe. In case anyone is confused. Calling it "eastern European" is basically using "Eastern European" as a stand in for "Corrupt" and "Uncivilized" is kind of weak, there are countries with these problems in every region. Including Western Europe (Just look at Italy!)
posted by delmoi at 9:38 AM on January 10, 2010


It's interesting we call these "race riots", as it buys into a narrative that benefits their employers. Laborers were exploited by their employers, and when they finally become fed up with the way they're being treated and fight back, their laborer identity is sidelined in favor of their immigrant identity. "Hey look, the proles are rioting!" doesn't fit with the story we're used to, but "Hey look, the blacks are rioting!" sounds much better. It's like if the Third Servile War were really about racial tensions between Italians and Thacians.
posted by Sova at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


"I think they're probably second only to Greece as far as deplorable treatment of refugees goes."

Treatment of refugees is deplorable all over europe. I can only speak with some authority on the inhumane conditions they are being forced to live in in germany, but I doubt you'll find any place on the continent where the situation really much better.
posted by ts;dr at 9:59 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember being in one of the more popular piazzas in Florence in the late '90s. There were Africans vendors scattered around the square selling souvenirs. As I recall, they weren't pushy like the vendors I later encountered elsewhere in Europe. All of a sudden they began to jump up and run. Some tried to roll up their merchandise in blankets, but most just fled. I didn't understand what was going on until I saw Italian police running towards the square in what appeared to be full riot gear wielding nightsticks. There were whistles and shouts for the African street vendors to stop, but most were out of sight, except for the few that were trying to save their wares. Those unfortunate few got nightsticks upside the head and dragged off while we tourists (mostly high school students from the U.S.) watched. It was an eye-opening experience about how the rest of the world works for a young, naive kid.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's interesting we call these "race riots", as it buys into a narrative that benefits their employers. Laborers were exploited by their employers, and when they finally become fed up with the way they're being treated and fight back, their laborer identity is sidelined in favor of their immigrant identity.

Yes, but on the other hand, if racial hatred was not present in this scenario, you couldn't do any "misdirecting". It's still worthwhile to fight prejudice. It's everywhere and on every continent. Just yesterday, I read about Australia and attacks on Indians - at least there was no labor issues involved, since it targeted students:

""We want a multicultural police section and we want crime statistics made public so that we know the extent of the problem," he said.

The protesters also wanted on-site accommodation for Indian students at all universities and colleges.

"We want blanket cover for all international students, covering them for accidents and assaults and the government should run an ad campaign highlighting positive influence that migrants and international students have made to this country."

posted by VikingSword at 10:09 AM on January 10, 2010


I don't know, Sova. To depict these incidents as merely labour unrest would be missing the point. What sparked the riots was a racist attack on african immigrants.

The aftermath, mobs of native italians randomly attacking black people and finally driving them out of town perhaps could be better described as a Pogrom.
posted by ts;dr at 10:26 AM on January 10, 2010


I haven't been able to finish Saviano's book. It is just too awful. I read small chunks and then I'm so repelled and upset I have to put it down again.

You can bet that because the Ndrangheta are involved, only a tiny part of what is really happening will be reported.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2010


Anyone interested in immigration in Europe can also look at Clandestino (scroll down for EU member reports, Italy is here PDF)

"I think they're probably second only to Greece as far as deplorable treatment of refugees goes."

We accept a vanishingly small percentage of refugee applications, but what's worse are the camps on the isles where immigrants that first arrive are put in. Greece is a major transit -rather than destination- country and the immigration treaties of the E.U. with Turkey, which ask for the deportation of immigrants trafficked in, back to Turkey, exist mostly on paper*. This summer certain islands had to accommodate illegally arrived immigrants that surpassed their population.
Hope all these could justify the horrible conditions in the camps (or schools, at times) these people stay in, but it's so bad the current interior minister had to publicly offer an apology after visiting one. I think there were at least 10x more people than there ought to be and we've been getting flak by many international organisations.

That said, the current immigration policies in European level suck, as they mostly let the southern countries sort stuff out for themselves and every immigrant is assigned to the country that served as his point of entry in Europe.

*it's not unusual for traffickers to collect their fee and then sink the boat of the immigrants when they're close to a coast guard's ship so they won't get turned back but rescued from the sea -many get drowned this way.
posted by ersatz at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


European nations treat refugees badly largely because they accept way too many. They're accepting these refugees for their own economic reasons, but refugees are simply not the optimal group for bolstering your own labor force. European nations should accept more immigrants with needed skills and far far fewer economic refugees.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:08 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sova: “There's more than one Italy.”

Machiavelli would weep. He would weep, I tell you. And I know Firenze is run by communists and all, but Berlusconi did win the election for all of Italy last time around, right?

fourcheesemac: “Italy seems really fucked. People used to point to it as civilized Europe, and so superior to the US. Yeah, right.”

Zambrano: “- said the guy who's never been there.”

Hey, Zambrano! Is that really all you have to say? I might be wrong, but I've gotten the distinct impression from your past comments that, unlike the rest of us, you're actually from Italy! If that's true, then you could offer a real perspective on what's going on here, something a little closer to what's actually happening – couldn't you? Seriously – I know we've disagreed before, and I've sniped at you, but I've never been to Italy either, despite my having strong opinions. Whether we're all idiots about it or not – I'd really, really like to know what you have to say about the Calabrese race riots, and about what's going on in Italy in general. I had a friend living in Milan who used to give me updates, but I haven't heard from her in a while – and frankly she's American; I get the feeling you'd probably have a better perspective.

What do you think?
posted by koeselitz at 11:09 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Greece is a major transit -rather than destination- country and the immigration treaties of the E.U. with Turkey, which ask for the deportation of immigrants trafficked in, back to Turkey, exist mostly on paper.

Certainly. But here's what happens: the Dublin Regulation. This is an international agreement which gives signatories the right - although not the obligation - to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure. As Greece is a major transit point (in large part due to the lack of direct flights from war-torn and totalitarian countries to western Europe) refugees are often deported right back to Greece. And so they begin to stack up there. Greece has been under fire for their treatment of refugees from the UN on quite a few occasions.

I think the Dublin Regulation needs serious re-working. The UNHCR has argued, for instance, that refugees be given the right to have their cases at least examined before they are deported, and that they should be allowed to appeal their deportations in the courts of the country wherein they seek asylum. I think that'd be a decent starting point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:25 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


what happened, in a nutshell:

- Harvesting oranges is hard work, and pays shit (something like € 3/hr)
- You need someone almost desperate to do it, locals won't, not even if jobless.
- Some immigrants are desperate enough, and move seasonally to work as laborers between apples (trentino), grapes (the whole country) tomatoes (campania), and oranges (calabria).
- Apparently, these particular immigrants weren't too happy with the treatment they were receiving, and some even stood up to their kapos
- A reportage on primetime national news shows the inhuman conditions these particular immigrants in Rosarno were living: they were in a couple abandoned industries, some even sleeping in the silos which were used to hold olive oil or orange juice. A bit of the lazy public opinion, notices; maybe (just, maybe) some spotlight is going to turn where it shouldn't (most of the economy there is controlled by the 'ndrangheta, the largest criminal organisation in Italy). Shit, meet fan.
- That exact same evening, a couple local folks on a scooter shoot at some immigrants with a BB gun. It's the last straw. The immigrants revolt: street fires, barricades, broken glass, the usual. Part of the population engages, other open their homes to the fleeing immigrants, or rush the wounded to the hospital. Shots are fired.
- somehow the revolts are quenched. A few wounded on both sides, mostly among the immigrants, who are the ones asking to be moved somewhere else.
- a few arrests are also made on both sides. Among those, a niece of the local 'ndrangheta boss.
- The immigrants are moved to several of what is essentially a cross between a refugee camp and a prison. Identified clandestines face jail time and expulsion.

Net result: the 'ndrangheta managed to have the police rid them of potentially troublesome workers without even getting its hands dirty.

These are the facts. Then, we can start talking about the current immigration laws, which are a fucking shame, the EU immigration policies, the current right-wing government, which is populist and openly racist, and --what's worse-- was elected by a majority of Italians, and so on.
posted by _dario at 12:26 PM on January 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yes, but on the other hand, if racial hatred was not present in this scenario, you couldn't do any "misdirecting". It's still worthwhile to fight prejudice.

Sure, but I think the issues of race, immigration, and labor are intertwined in many parts of Europe. And I don't really mean to say it's just one thing or the other, but rather that if we read it both ways a much fuller picture emerges. In this case an economic problem has been displaced into racism that has been kept current, perhaps just for this purpose. At least that's my view.

Machiavelli would weep. He would weep, I tell you. And I know Firenze is run by communists and all, but Berlusconi did win the election for all of Italy last time around, right?

You're gonna have to explain the me the weeping Machiavelli. I feel I'm missing something.
posted by Sova at 12:47 PM on January 10, 2010


Yes, that's what I meant with every immigrant is assigned to the country that served as his point of entry in Europe. The part you quoted referred to the bilateral agreement between Turkey and Greece (not a E.U. agreement, flopped there), which was signed a decade ago but is not enforced.

In Athens on Tuesday, Barrot had accused Turkey of turning a blind eye to trafficking of illegal migrants to Greece.

Ankara says the migrants come from countries such as Iraq and Pakistan and it should not have to handle those crossing Turkey to reach the wealthy EU.


It's almost the same thing we're grumbling about, but cracking down on people who make money by exploiting others' misery would be nice.

This europarl question refers to the readmission agreement, but it's from a Vlaams Belang MP, bleh.
posted by ersatz at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


White Christmas?
posted by psyche7 at 1:49 PM on January 10, 2010


I spent a good deal of time in Italy. And it's awesome. I've never met nicer people. Judging Italy by Berlusconi or anti-immigrant bigots is like judging all the US by Bush and the tea-baggers or all of the UK by soccer hooligans. Fucking stupid.
posted by tkchrist at 3:44 PM on January 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


jeffburdges European nations treat refugees badly largely because they accept way too many. They're accepting these refugees for their own economic reasons, but refugees are simply not the optimal group for bolstering your own labor force. European nations should accept more immigrants with needed skills and far far fewer economic refugees.

I frankly don't know where to start with this, because it's wrong on so many levels that it becomes difficult to point out a particular fallacy.

Firstly, European nations don't accept "way too many" refugees. In fact, refugee status is given to a small and ever-reducing number of people. Under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, signatory states have the obligation of giving asylum to those who can legitimately claim refugee status.

During the Cold War, Western European nations were rather generous in according refugee status, firstly because there had been indeed an awful lot of refugees in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a very significant part of the population could remember being refugees themselves, and then also because most of the refugees came from the Soviet block and were a propaganda trump card.

During the Fifties and Sixties, those same Western European nations also encouraged economic immigration because there was a shortage of workforce.

However, from the Seventies onwards, the doors to immigration were shut, as the oil crises put millions on the dole. Instead, those fleeing wretched misery in their home countries only had one recourse left, and that was claiming refugee status. And so many did. The trouble is that the responsible agencies had nothing like the necessary resources to treat such an onslaught of "refugees". Furthermore, all the guarantees and due process needed to ensure that genuine refugees where not sent back to countries where they'd be persecuted or murdered made that the process of examining asylum applications became very lengthy, easily stretching into many years (this also happens in the US, BTW). By the time the application is refused (as most are), the applicant may have definitely settled into the country, founded a family, etc. making his expulsion (tough enough in the best of cases, it isn't as if those "bogus asylum seekers" came from holiday camps) truly heart-wrenching.

Secondly, this isn't a matter of European countries "accepting" anybody. And certainly not the current openly xenophobic Italian government. The people come, no matter what. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are drowning each year in the Mediterranean and off the coast of North West Africa trying to cross to Europe and the Canary Islands. Children have frozen to death trying to get into Europe as stowaways in landing gear compartments.

Thirdly, few among those African immigrants chased like animals in Calabria have possibly even applied for asylum. They are illegal immigrants, much like their counterparts doing very much the same kind of work under very similar conditions of exploitation in, say, California.
posted by Skeptic at 4:53 PM on January 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ask any black footballer who's played in Italy what the Italians are like.
posted by dopamine at 5:33 PM on January 10, 2010



Ask any black footballer who's played in Italy what the Italians are like.

Well as long as your not cherry picking from a narrow pool to support a stereotype or anything.
posted by tkchrist at 6:46 PM on January 10, 2010


Yeah, I find this hard to accept. On the one hand, scum like Berlusconi, actually freely elected by the Italians. On the other hand, my experience of Italians - over many decades... the nicest people - generous, warm, lovely. Eh, didn't we elect Bush? Guess there's good and bad everywhere. Just a heartbreaking story all around.
posted by VikingSword at 10:01 PM on January 10, 2010


Ask any black footballer who's played in Italy what the Italians are like.
Yeah, rabid football supporters are a perfect demographic.
posted by _dario at 6:26 AM on January 11, 2010


Blame the law! Namely, the bossi-fini decree.
posted by 3mendo at 6:35 AM on January 11, 2010


_dario has it (in his first post above). Right on!

I had coffee this morning in Rome with a good friend who is an experienced journalist for La Repubblica - yes, that "commie rag" (second best-selling daily in Italy except for the sporting dailies, the one which keeps trying to get Berlusconi to answer 10 simple questions). He pointed out that the 'ndrangheta, which owns not only all the fruit farms in Calabria but also everything else from the supermarkets to the city councils, is only too happy to see the back of the migrant workers. Because it makes more money from EU funds by letting the fruit rot on the trees than it would by having the migrant workers pick and pack it.

I've lived in Italy now for nearly 40 years. (Or rather, as others have rightly said upthread, in various parts of what we call Italy, which is as wildly variable as any other country which has been unified for far less than 200 years, from hi-tech Milan catwalks to Sicilian peasants riding on donkeys.) After living in the UK and Germany, I was (and still am) amazed and grateful for the unjudgemental tolerance shown here to foreigners, and not just to white northern European stock like myself. But times are getting hard, boys, money's getting scarse; many of us are finding it hard - some impossible - to meet the utilities bills at the end of the month, and there's not much left over for the windscreen washers at the traffic lights or the "parking attendants" at the station. But still, there's a widespread groundswell of indignation about how the immigrants are being treated, and it's getting stronger.

I've worked in TV news and I know how seductively easy it is to shoot some vox pops on the street, to get some bejewelled and makeup-crusted bottle blonde to say how they should all be thrown back in the sea. Those people do exist here, like they do anywhere else, but - believe me - they don't represent anything approaching a majority in Italy.

These poor migrants are just freight for the people-traffickers, trying to get a foothold on the soft underbelly of rich (in their eyes) Europe: Italy, Greece and Spain. And Italy is simply trying to deal with a crisis we know is only going to get more intense as water resources dry up, crops fail, and trees are cut down for fuel. It hasn't found the solution yet, but it's looking hard for a humane one which of course will cost, but won't put its own people in danger.

(One thing _dario didn't get quite right: the current government wasn't elected by a majority, but by default. Given the clever electoral system the Right had introduced, and the ongoing total shambles of the Left, Berlusconi scored only some 35%...
posted by aqsakal at 9:02 AM on January 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ask any black footballer who's played in Italy what the Italians are like.

Frankly, this kind of comments try my patience. Yes, black footballers do quite often receive racist taunts from supporters of opponents (and sometimes of their own team) in Italy and Spain. And when he played for Man U and his wife joked that he sometimes put on her underwear, David Beckham also received no end of grief from supporters of other Premiership teams. That doesn't necessary mean that those supporters were necessarily homophobic. In an even more extreme case, in Holland, some supporters of Feyenoord Rotterdam and a few other "enemy" teams have been known to chant about crematory ovens when facing Ajax Amsterdam (a club with "Jewish roots", but not much in the way of Jewish players these days). That doesn't mean that those Feyenoord supporters are neo-Nazis (indeed, they often aren't exactly Aryan themselves).

What all this means is that football supporters like to taunt the opponents (and sometimes their own players, if they aren't performing to their liking) in the most offensive ways they can think of, and that they don't much care for political correctness in the anonimity of a chanting crowd. And also that the asshole element of human nature usually prospers in such circumstances, alas. But that isn't particularly specific to Italy, or football, for that matter...

Thing is, the very same loathful supporters will venerate as a deity a successful player in their team, regardless of race, religion, or sexual proclivities.
posted by Skeptic at 9:22 AM on January 11, 2010


> One thing _dario didn't get quite right: the current government wasn't elected by a majority

I gladly stand corrected but, as you probably know all too well, any piece of BS, when shoved down the throat of the public opinion with enough force and repetition...

posted by _dario at 9:36 AM on January 11, 2010


> It's been a long time since the Renaissance, that's for sure.
> posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:33 PM on January 10 [+] [!]

Who was that guy Da Vinci worked for in Milan for so many years? Wonder what Lodovico Sforza's human rights record was like.
posted by jfuller at 11:23 AM on January 11, 2010


>Cue Sforza Italia joke.
posted by ersatz at 1:31 PM on January 11, 2010


Just to put the record straight (in case anyone is still listening...): Here are a couple of relevant items published yesterday by the major Italian news agency ANSA:

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini sets off Monday on a week-long tour of Africa that has taken on new meaning after Italy's worst racial unrest in years. In a newspaper interview Monday, he said he meant to "get to the root" of the problem highlighted by riots and clashes in the Calabrian town of Rosarno after some locals attacked migrant labourers. The seven-nation trip, Frattini told Rome daily Il Tempo, was part of Italy's efforts to "solve, at the roots, the problem of illegal immigration which has re-emerged in all its dramatic force in the tragic events in Rosarno". "Italy has always been a tolerant and hospitable country which does not have the baggage of the great colonial powers in its DNA, but we have a duty, through our friendship and partnership with African countries, to ... regulate to our mutual interest the phenomenon of immigration (and) to safeguard the welfare and safety of our citizens and of African citizens, whom we respect".

Not just a knee-jerk reaction to Rosarno: I can guarantee from professional experience that a 7-day ministerial trip takes weeks if not months to set up. And I am no fan of the Berlusconi government, either.

The vast majority of immigrants in Italy have valid residency permits while the number of foreigners here illegally is declining steadily, according to a new study by Catholic charity group Caritas. There are around 4.5 million immigrants living and working in Italy legally compared to 422,000 illegal aliens, down from 651,000 in 2008. Combined, the foreign-born residents grew to 7.2% of the population in 2009 rising above the European Union average of 6.2% for the first time, the study said. Italy's immigrant population has grown by 246% over the last ten years. Close to half a million people emigrated to Italy in 2008. At the present rate of growth, the number of immigrants living in Italy is expected to reach 12 million by 2050, according to projections by national statistics bureau Istat. The study also illustrated that crime rates among foreign residents were only slightly higher than Italians, with between 1.2 and 1.3 offenders per hundred as opposed to the national average of 0.75. Immigrants without residency permits accounted for 80% of all crimes committed by non-Italians, the report added.

Not so sure about that "only slightly higher", BTW. Looks to me like almost twice as high.
posted by aqsakal at 8:21 AM on January 12, 2010


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