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The other face of Italy

the station Termini, Rome, at 18: 30. It has been raining. The sky is a bright storm yellow. And all races, the, arrive, and leave the. Termini is the instantaneous water heater of the city, loud and dirty, in the night it is sometimes really dangerous. Termini is also the center of Italy, the transit station between the North and the South, between the South and the North.

Under the canopy on the Via Marsala, young men from Africa, they are the Only ones that don't run. They are waiting for Giovanna Cavallo, and the is late. "Give me two minutes," she says on the phone, "I Park our delivery van."

On Twitter, she describes with a single word: "ribelle", a rebel. Photo: Tinker Bell, the blonde Fairy from the cartoon film "Peter Pan". Then she is there, firm handshake, deep voice, not-so-Tinker Bell. "Let's drink something?", she asks, and ordered a glass of red wine. The work with the young men before the Bar starts under the canopy.

Of the books of the law

Giovanna Cavallo, 41 years old from Naples, is an activist of the Baobab Experience. A known Autonomous Roman organization, which helps migrants. With food, clothes, language courses, accommodation and legal assistance. Baobab, like the African monkey bread tree.

Cavallo is responsible for legal support to the refugees , one of the region's administration, there is a small Budget, 40'000 Euro for one and a half years. Every few days you open the information in your vans in Termini, and explains to the migrants, what "Dublin", as you will come to a residence permit, what happens if you get the notification that takes you back to your home. She studied literature. "The law I taught myself."

Baobab creates, it is often in the news, because the Association engages also to unusual means, empty houses occupied, and without official permission from the camp tent. Then, the transmitters are interviewing often, Giovanna Cavallo, she speaks well and quickly, always very clear. Law is not always justice.

Recently, the police came and ripped the tent camp behind the other major railway station of the city, the Stazione Tiburtina. With excavators, as you like it, Matteo Salvini , the Minister of the interior, the right Lega . "After that, nothing more," says Cavallo. The migrants, some a Hundred, were expelled, they live on the street. "Is that better?", she asks.

"Impresario of fear"

Cavallo and Salvini, two faces of Italy, is a world in between. A few years ago, they met each other in a TV show, as the "Impresario of fear," like him, "La Repubblica" recently called, still a member of the European Parliament.

Cavallo pulls her cell phone out of his pocket, scrolls through the photos until you find the picture of the two from the Studio. "I was a bit roundish, I had just brought my daughter to the world." When the cameras were gone, she says, Salvini was a "simpaticone", a likeable guy. At that time. "Behind the Scenes, he asked me to send him my ideas all the way to Strasbourg." Intelligent he was, "super intelligent".

Now he bullies the Weakest. So Cavallo Salvini's policy called anti-immigrant: "a gigantic bullying". With his decree to Immigration and security, the "Decreto Salvini", with the closure of the accommodation centres and the limitation of the stay he all have permits, only much more complicated for the immigrants and many of them are pushed into illegality.

migrants demonstrate in Rome against the closure of accommodation centres. Photo: Christian Minelli (NurPhoto)

"your stay does not lose the right, way to go, but – where will you go? You slip into the social abyss, that makes you almost insane, because there are also some that beg, steal, deal. How the hell are you supposed to survive otherwise?" Everything in this story is calculated to the Chaos. So it is quite easy to make the people believe that there is a need for more control and Repression. Even more Salvini.

And so the topic remains in the news, even though creating a little more refugee boats from Libya in Italy. Even now, shortly before the European elections, makes Salvini almost only with the immigration question mood, its parade theme. Actually, it is his only topic. He wants NGOs to talk to pay for each migrant, you save, warns of "terrorists" on Board the refugee ships, in front of an "Invasion", you heard it from the "population exchange". Europe is threatening to become an "Islamic Caliphate".

"All Propaganda," says Cavallo. "You want to drown out that Italy has repatriated only a very few Rejected in their home." A Flop that was. And yet, Salvini's Lega is said that an election victory in advance, such as 30 percent of the vote.

"What someone in the Bar is talking about, therefore, is sufficient for many."Giovanna Cavallo

Why? Now Adam Nor Mohammed is a young Sudanese refugee who has lived for 20 years in Italy and talks like a Roman, he works as a cultural mediator for Baobab. "Look," he says, "the Italians are not racists. The government put you up to this, you stirred in the uncertainties of the people."

Cavallo speaks of "institutional racism", racism from the top. "We are a belly people," she says, "we would like to inform us, we only take true. What someone in the Bar is talking about, therefore, is sufficient for many, and all to repeat the same theories, race the same pack leader, the man of the hour." In this climate, the approximate perceptions, of the theories and Exaggerations, it was a rule now. "We are a nation of sheep," says Cavallo. Salvini have understood.

But there is also the other, solidarity in Italy, and also the growing. Out Of Reaction. "We've never had so many donors and volunteers," says Cavallo. After each eviction there was a wave of offers of help. "And we are now at the 28., 29. Clearance." It was like Tetris, the computer game: "Somewhere the migrants to land, even if all fixed facilities are closed."

There is Baobab, distributed meals, which are cooked by volunteers and on Facebook coordinates, sends Doctors and psychologists, distributed sleeping bags. In the past four years, Baobab has been well looked after 40000 migrants. Most of them were "transit anti" who saw Italy, only as a stage on their way to the North of Europe. Eritreans, Sudanese, Somalis. "95 percent of wanted to more," says Cavallo. Because of Invasion.

gaps for luck

The car ran a Couple of Tivoli, a town in the East of Rome, has taken up a Nigerian refugee in. Emmanuel, a twenty-something, twisted to Plait the hair, was homeless. For five years he lived in Italy, most of that time in Sicily. The Couple is desperate, it has all the documents.

"Baobab is our last hope," says the woman. Emmanuel's residence permit, granted to him for humanitarian reasons, and to him so far, constantly renewed, to expire on 22. May. According to Salvini's decree-law he loses his right to stay. And then? Emmanuel smiles shyly. His future is in Italy, he says, makes a Pause, and then adds quietly: "I hope".

Giovanna Cavallo has pulled up the hood over the head, it's raining again, she's wearing a red vest, on the back is: Legal Aid, legal aid. She listens, leafing through the documents, pulling a face. A difficult story, but not hopeless says.

It was, she found loopholes in the laws, which have helped many people: If the government of your own inadequacy became aware of it, she sat down at the table with the activists. Once managed in this way, papers for 5000 African field workers to negotiate, harvested in Calabria and in Apulia vegetables. For a few euros a day. Scourged by their slave-drivers, the "Caporali" of the Mafia.


For twenty years, Cavallo has been working with refugees, it was a very conscious decision from the beginning. "I always tell myself that we can to refugees in the life: climate refugees, war refugees, poverty, refugees." She wanted to know the same love that you give in the case of Baobab.

It is a love with consequences. Ninety of the criminal proceedings is in the rebel. Due To Building Occupation. Or because she fought back against officials who wanted to carry away a refugee with violence. Or because they took part in unauthorized rallies. Once she sat for three days in remand, in the Foggiano, in the South of Italy. "I don't want anybody," she says with a laugh.

Giovanna Cavallo was acquitted, sometimes only after years. Matteo Salvini calls, however, prefer to use his immunity as a parliamentarian, he represents the judiciary, which wants to charge him because of the closure of the ports. Two Italy, a world in between.

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 12.05.2019, 20:42 PM

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