There’s no way to understand what the hotspot of Taranto is without looking at the patrolled streets, the station presided by local and national TV cameras, good Samaritans with association badges, guards on trains, town buses turned into transportation lines of human merchandise. The cops’ nervousness as they demand to see the documents of anyone who dares look beyond the double gates in order to encounter the gazes of those locked up inside.
Otherwise one risks succumbing to the dominant narrative of a Europe that doesn’t renounce its proceedings of civilization and humanitarianism in spite of the terrorist threat, which is always branded with magical timing.
The Big puppeteers keep on saying that it’s not right to let men, women and children die under the bombs (excellence of Made in Italy exports). As for poverty, hunger, prison or the will to escape a predetermined fate and leave, this is none of our business. So the doors are getting narrower and narrower in the extreme southern periferies of Europe and human beings are being classified. No one leaves without first giving their fingerprints and declaring their place of origin. From this point onwards destinies take different roads. Those who correspond to the right parameters and claim political or
humanitarian asylum enter the phase of ‘second welcome’. A billionaire business for associations, social cooperatives, charities, merchants who were never chased away from the temple. And then the limbo of waiting for documents. Days that become months. Years of killing time dispossessed of one’s own autonomy, of life itself. Infantilized, moved only along obligatory trajectories, a time of redemption spent to show without a shadow of doubt that one is prepared to be exploited within the economic system of the home of human rights eating plain pasta. Here in southern Italy often ending up in the hands of agromafia bosses and various jackals protected by the police. For the others, the so-called economic migrants the sentence is summed up in the hypocrisy of ‘delayed deportation’.
Just out of the ‘hotspot’ the latter are loaded on to Amat buses (the town public transport that has started taking orders from the prefect without much scruple) and taken to the police station in the suburban neighbourhood of Salinella to sign a paper that ratifies their status of clandestine.
They are compelled to reach the border with their own means in seven days and leave Italy.
In seven days their fate will be with the arbitrariness of cops stopping them, agreements made between Europe’s interior ministers, Public Opinion’s induced security psychosis.
After which they are systematically thrown out into the street, the circle is complete and everybody is happy. Or is that so?
The mayor of Taranto had a rude awakening when he realized he had a problem as big as the business he thought he had clinched. A flood of human beings with nothing to lose to invade the city. Tearing his hair out he returns to the device he had adopted without problems a few months earlier, and has the ex Ricciardi reopened, a disused school already utilised during the North Africa emergency.
With the mediation of the humanitarian associations he moves there all those who don’t have a shelter for the night as they wait to board a train and go away from the umpteenth prison of their odyssey.
A safe place, the charitable and busy emissaries of the Babel association assure, and they say it again and again to migrants in English, French and Arab. The mayor demands talks with the prefecture, 48 hours later the antiriot police is at the ex Ricciardi to remind all of who’s in charge of this human traffic.
Certainly not the untimely guilty conscience of a mayor complicit in all the worst colonialist impositions (ILVA, ENI, the Navy dictate the rules here, he just writes them down) or the good intentions of volunteers guaranteeing social peace.
So far the official story, to which we add the tale of some who spent last week defying the sense of impotence and resignation instilled by the monstrous machine and wondering with tears of anger in their eyes: what to do?
Someone tried to pierce the language barriers and the physical ones made by cops towards this flood of people and tried to create complicity in the emergency so as to sabotage the machine.
We are aware of the fact that the extended prison that this world is imprisons us as well as those who take to the seas. That the management of migration flows according to different speeds serves to establish the price of labour, foment xenophobia, strengthen control devices on the lives of everyone. Borders are everywhere, invisible check points are at every corner, twenty steps in the courtyard have become twenty thousand steps, maybe. And sometimes it’s good for those immersed in their sleepy routine made of evening meetings and rituals in occupied places to hear what some are willing to risk.
SUFFOCATING FOR A BREATH OF FREEDOM, as someone said from the Greek prisons.
We have no intention of joining the lamentations on the State’s inefficiency given that humanitarianism and social control are two sides of the same dirty coin.
But to us the past days have seemed like a glimmer from which fresh air can filtrate. For this reason we have taken the space to talk and be spoken to, we tried to get ourselves a day of respite far from the eyes of the more or less charitable jailers.
Whom should we forge alliances with? With those who have accepted to manage migrants in a humanitarian way or with those who have escaped from many prisons and got here to remind us we too should long for all the space and time taken from us by the extended prison? What you perceive as a swamped mumble coming from the sea and easy to be covered by power’s trumpets, will soon be a deafening cry of freedom.