The trumpets of hell sound in Italy

Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia Montoya

Don’t call me pessimist. Judge me after reading this writing. What is happening in Italy has a precedent in the history of the world, and more specifically in Europe. We’ll see it in detail next. The bad news is that when we comment on the dangers that stalks us – when we say that the people who forget their history are condemned to repeat it, recalling to Cicero, whose thought has been repeated by the most illustrious thinkers-, the young politicians who today Govern us tend to forget it because they believe that this is no longer possible nowadays.

I have observed it directly in my own children. When I tell them that the political moment we are living is very similar to the most scrambled years of the first half of the twentieth century that led the world to the World War II or to the bloody and fratricidal Spanish Civil War, they look scornfully like saying “Dad you’re getting old. Those circumstances no longer occur in the European social reality, much less in Spanish”. I hope they’re right. They think that the people’s history is done every day and that every day, alluding to the Gospel of St. Matthew, brings its own eagerness. I will not disavow the phrase of the Evangelist, although it’s named the same as the racist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. But I confess that I prefer the one of the discussed third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who stated that “one thing is continue the history and another one is repeat it”.  I claim, without more authority -that it is very little- that which gives me the age and my long political experience, that in Italy but also in Spain, Poland, Hungary… there is a part of its citizens, encouraged by foolish politicians, who are determined to repeat the saddest pages of our history.

Italy and Germany, two sides of the same coin

I have repeated lots of times that the noble and cult German people did not lay down a night of the 1930s of the last century being Democrat and respectful of the fundamental rights of citizens and woke up the next day become a murderer, Nazi and predator of all those who do not respond to their patterns of privileged race. In 1938 the German government expelled all Jewish men of Polish origin from their territory. Women and children were allowed to live in Germany for some time. Like Matteo Salvini who wants to make a census of the Roma people to expel out of Italy the immigrants “although the Italian Roma, unfortunately, have to stay”.

Hitler, like minister Salvini, was not conformed to expel the Polish Jews. The following year, he announced in the Bundestag the “annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe”. And it led to the practice aided by the genocidal minister Joseph Goebbels who said that “Jews are rats that transport contagion, flood the continent and devour precious resources”. Matteo Salvini does not need gas chambers to end the lives of the wretches fleeing their persecuted countries for their ideas or starving to death. Form him it is enough not to allow the ships loaded with “human flesh” ― that is how he calls the emigrants who risk their lives to find a better land where they can live — they do not reach Italian ports. And if in the meantime they do not survive in the sea, it will be their fault.

Italy suffered at the same time the populist dictatorship of Benito Musolini, whom people called “Duce”, like the Germans distinguished Hitler with the nickname of “Führer” which means “leader”, “driver”. Both were distinguished by promoting a strongly nationalist policy – National Socialism argues that race and genetic and cultural heritage are the guiding values that give the nation natural cohesion.

We all know that Matteo Salvini follows the footsteps of both dictators. Since 1990 it is part of a separatist party that demands the independence of the Padania, rich and prosperous region of northern Italy, under the slogan “Rome robs us”.  In 2014 he claimed to the Italian government the power to celebrate a referendum to establish the right to self-determination of Lombardy. And in its eagerness to discredit the political system in Italy and the European democracies, it did not hesitate to openly support the racist Le Pen and his party, as well as ridiculing the Community financial system by calling the euro “monopoly money”.

The repression against the Roma People has already begun in Rome

The Association 21 de Luglio is spearheading the protest against the persecution that the government and other local authorities are developing against the Roma people. We have contact its president, Carlo Stasolla, in order to support how much can be done to stop the madness that is making that beautiful land in the anteroom of hell.

Tell me, if not, what is it that the city Council of Rome, headed by its mayor Virginia Raggi, leader of the antisystem party of extreme Left  “Movement 5 stars” just done in the settlement called Camping River.

This is a relatively well equipped space, paid by the city Council of the capital, recognized since the year 2005 as an “equipped village”. So that settlement is not like our suburbs plagued with barracks, but it is a surface on which some units of houses had been installed destined to pick up Roma families originating mainly from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. In the beginning of 2017 420 people occupied these houses.

On June 21st the trumpets of Hell began to sound

The city Council of Rome gave each family of the Camping River settlement a letter in which they were told that “within fifteen days they should leave the houses free of people and goods”. Obviously no one left their humble homes that had been provided by the municipal authorities. They had nowhere to go. They were all poor, immigrants, refugees, although they would have been in Italy for many years. So on the morning of June 21st, just three days ago, a large display of policemen took the assault homes and savagely they destroyed everything they found inside. The Roma families, terrified, were left in the open with the wreckage of their scarce assets. That day they razed 10 houses. In this way they hoped that the inhabitants of Camping River undertake the frightened fear of the destructive fury that hovered over them.

But they didn’t go away. Where were they going to go? The next day the municipal police proceeded to destroy another eight blocks of houses in a dantesque environment in which no one could understand the reasons for such barbarism.  While the police destroyed the scarce assets of those unfortunates, the human rights activists and members of the Association 21 de Luglio were forced by the police to remain outside the settlement in order that they would not witness that ignominious behaviour. However the President of the association has sent me some photographs, I show you two of them. They speak for themselves.

I have read these days that since the tragedy of Lampedusa in October 2013 (518 bodys), the lifeless body of the child Aylan, in 2015, on a Turkish beach, until the arrival of the Aquarius, the Mediterranean has buried, at least, 16,000 people. Europe has an undeniable share of responsibility in this graveyard. And the Italian government of convergence between the extreme right led by Matteo Salvini and 5 Star Antisystem Party of extreme left, must add the unworthy honour of being the cause of so much unnecessary pain to families who believed they have found in Italy a place for hope.

And to us, citizens who contemplate this tragedy with horror and helplessness, we only have to remind our European political leaders of Dante Alighieri’s stoning quote: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality”.


Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia
Lawyer and journalist
Vice president of International Romani Union