Concentration camps for immigrants were introduced in Italy by a law passed in l998 by the ‘leftist’ government of Massimo D’Alema. They are called CENTRI DI PERMANENZA TEMPORANEA (CTP), ‘temporary stay camps’. The minister responsible for this law was Livia Turco, former Welfare Minister.
There is no substantial difference between the ‘leftist’ law on immigration and the one passed by the current Berlusconi’s government, the so-called Bossi-Fini law. The latter simply limits the number of visas to be given, a measure which meets the needs of the Italian capitalist system and therefore would have been taken by the previous government had it still been in charge. In other words, now fewer immigrants are allowed to stay in Italy than before, the ones who are useful to the Italian economy. All the others are located in concentration camps built by the ‘leftist government, waiting to be deported to their countries where they face once again those awful conditions (hunger, war, sickness, exploitation) that have been created by the western world.
In Salento in southern Italy, which is part of the Puglia region, can be found the concentration camp REGINA PACIS of Saint Foca. It is run by Italian the catholic organisation Caritas, or more precisely by Cesare Lodeserto, a priest who is the manager of the camp, and his boss Cosmo Francesco Ruppi, archbishop of Otranto.
A number terrible deeds have occurred in ‘Regina Pacis’ since it was created, including beatings, forced administration of psychotropic drugs, attempted suicides… not to mention the many escape attempts which were unfortunately mostly unsuccessful. There have been protests against such a hellish detention centre since it was built. Both Lecce Social Forum (composed of leftist parties and various humanitarian and green associations) and the anarchists of Lecce have always taken part in the struggle against ‘Regina Pacis’, but no agreement has ever been made between the two categories of protestors. At the beginning the main difference concerned the existence of the camp–while the Social Forum claimed for the improvement of the material living conditions in the camp, the anarchists wanted its immediate suppression. But was only after Berlusconi came to power that the Social forum started asking for the closure of the camp too,
The contrast between the anarchists and the other protestors, however, has always been one concerning methods of struggle, as Social Forum has always refused any find of direct attack against the camp. The anarchists, on the contrary, maintain that what really counts is sharp attack, aiming to transform the struggle against the concentration camps into a concrete fact. Not only the help given to the immigrants, but also and mainly the attack against the people responsible for their suffering. That’s how, along with demonstrations, sit-ins, debates, distribution of leaflets, meetings, etc, the anarchists have always been planning a series of attacks against the core of Regina Pacis management.
More than once, Social Forum members have sent delegations, also comprised of a number of members of parliament, inside the camp in order to talk with the manager and eventually acquire some meaningless promise from him. On the other hand, the anarchists have always refused any dialogue with the people who capture immigrants for deportation and draw up the troops to prevent them from entering Italy. Somany tragedies have occurred in the Adriati Sea over the past few years, not only tragic shipwrecks of immigrants’ boats but also massacres due directly to some military measures taken to block access to the Italian shores. [Kater I Rades] No bartering is possible with those who sell weapons to the armies and take war into the countries from where most of the immigrants escape. No dialogue is possible with the exploiters of their labour and resources, the same who reduce them to starvation, then build prisons for capturing them and give protection to those who beat, torture and kill them. Only recently the manager of ‘Regina Pacis’ Cesare Lodeserto has been charged with ill-treatment and injuries after many years of investigation which had never led to any charges in spite of all the evidence of Lodeserto’s guilt. And it was following this serious episode that Social Forum interrupted its dialogue with ‘Regina Pacis’ manager.
The contrast between Social Forum and the anarchists has shown itself during many demonstrations in front of the camp. In particular Social Forum, especially before Lodeserto was officially charged, were clearly worried about certain slogans shouted out by anarchists against the manager. Social Forum used to say that ‘don Cesare’ was not such a bad person nd that all the guilt belonged to Berlusconi’s government (we should remember that Italian camps for immigrants were set up by the current Berlusconi’s opponents). And they have always dissociated themselves with indignation from the acts of sabotage carried out by the anarchists both during demonstrations in Saint Foca (damage to Caritas vans, attempts to communicate with the imprisoned immigrants, writings on the walls surrounding the camps) and at any other time in any other place. […]
Counter-information in the places where the camps are located in order to let the inhabitants know what really happens in those prisons.
Saint Foca, where the camps are located, is a little sea-side town which is full of people on holiday in the summer. During that period the anarchists organise unauthorised public debates and distribution of leaflets. Social Forum only comes to the big demonstrations against the camp which have previously been authorised by the police.
Cooperation on a large scale with the comrades who struggle against the many other concentration camps in the country.
Acts of sabotage aimed at striking anything anything and anyone connected to the camps:
managers and their armed guards
firms providing any kind of service (food, laundry, etc)
lawyers defending the people who work in the camps and are responsible for the ill-treatment of the immigrants
The information produced by the anarchists is in sharp contrast with that provided by the media and journalists, whose aims and methods are opposite to those of the anarchists.
31 August 2002 - group of demonstrators interrupts a meeting of Melendugno Council with trumpets. They also show the banner ‘No Borders, No Foreigners’ and shout their content against the mayor who had banned an exhibition on immigration in Saint Foca. Distribution of leaflets and among the people of the Council.
21 September 2002 – 4 immigrants attempt to escape from Regina Pacis and have a fight with the police who are always in the camp. Unfortunately 2 are arrested.
3 November 2002 – Demonstration in front of the church in Monteroni (Lecce) where Archbishop Ruppi is celebrating a religious event. Exposition of banner, exhibition on immigration and distribution of leaflets. Ruppi doesn’t show up to greet the crowd who were waiting for his blessing, but runs away by the back door.
12 November 2002 – Group of demonstrators gathers outside the palace of the Prefecture in Lecce where 11 Home Secretaries of the Adriatic-Ionic area are about to have a gala dinner. The next day the same ministers are supposed to have a summit to strengthen measures and a plan of ‘alert and rapid reaction’ against illegal immigration. The demonstrators show their anger with whistles, trumpets, megaphones. Thousands of leaflets are handed out and road blocks are carried out.
13 November 2002 – During a Social Forum against the summit of the 11 ministers, the anarchists throw some rotten fruit and eggs against the cops, the journalists and the security service of the Social Forum.
20 November 2002 – Casarano (Lecce) – a conference organised by Alleanza Nazionale (the Italian fascist party) on immigration in which Lodeserto participates is interrupted by 15 demonstrators who show a banner against the deportation of immigrants.
22 November 2002 – 40 immigrants escape from Rgina Pacis after a fight with the police. In the following days most of them are captured again, only 7 succeed in gaining freedom. The immigrants captured again are violently beaten for reprisal.
26 April 2003 – 4 Rumenian attempt to escape from Regina Pacis and beat two carabinieri cops who try to stop them.
3 May 2003 – A group of North African immigrants destroy the canteen of Regina Pacis in protest against their deportation notice. 8 carabinieri are injured.
10 May 2003 – Lecce – soon before the start of ‘Giro d’Italia’, the most important cycling event in Italy, some writings appear on the roads of the trajectory: ‘Free all Immigrants, Ruppi is a killer’.
11 June 2003 – Lecce – The front door of the ancient baroque cathedral is set on fire. On the walls these writings appear: ‘Free the Immigrants from the concentration Camps’. ‘Ruppi and Lodeserto are Criminal Bastards’.
September/October 2003 – Lecce – the local newspapers write about the many writings on the churches and palaces of Lecce against Regina Pacis and its management.
October 2003 – 4 attempted suicides in Regina Pacis.
8 November 2003 - in Lecce and Lequile two cash machines of ‘Banca Intesa’ are set on fire and destroyed. That bank is involved in Regina Pacis management. In Lequile a few bank nots also burn and the inside walls of the bank are damaged. On the spot a few leaflets are left about Regina Pacis.
9 November 2003 – Lecce – another cash machine of Banca Intesa is blocked with glue.
24 November 2003 – An Algerian prisoner in Regina Pacis attacks Lodeserto with a stick and injures him.
3 December 2003 – Calimera, Lecce – a lot of posters and writings against Catia Cazzato appear on the walls of the village. The woman is employed in Regina Pacis and is responsible for writing false reports about the beatings of immigrants, maintaining that the prisoners’ injuries were self-inflicted in order to try to escape from the camp.