The election of the national populist and racist Five Stars and Northern League government has led to a surge in state and far right in attacks on migrants in Italy. The following article by Karel Ludenhoff, an Amsterdam-based labour activist, is about the heartening response from Genoa dockworkers to attempts by desperate migrants trying to reach Italy.
ITALIAN DOCK WORKERS SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH MIGRANTS
In the last years we saw (and still see) that a growing number of people tried (and tries) to migrate from Africa to Europe. In the northern countries of Africa there are refugee centers, but the conditions in these centers are bad and in Libya they are even more than terrible.
The passage to Europe over the Mediterranean is hazardous because the boats the migrants have at their disposal are often rickety. Moreover, these boats are not suited to the amount of people on board, for the so-called intermediaries are earning their money per “traveler,” and the more “travelers,” the more money they make and they don’t care about the safety of the migrants. Because of this, thousands of people drowned in the past years.
In order to help and save the lives of the migrants when they crossing the Mediterranean a lot of people and organizations are active. One of these organizations is Sea-Watch e.V. https://sea-watch.org/en/ The organization Sea Watch reports concerning its most recent activity that neither the EU nor any government in the EU “brought about the solution for the disembarkation of the remaining 40 survivors aboard Sea-Watch 3. In the end it was captain Carola Rackete who was both forced and willing to take responsibility and who brought the people to safety against all adversities. Without permission she entered Italian waters and later the port of Lampedusa. She enforced the rights of the rescued people to be disembarked to a place of safety.”
So amid the squabbling about top positions in the EU, actually the safeguarding of the interests of capital, we see the other side of capitalist society, a side where the human being is central.
And it is a fortunate development that this other side is growing stronger as we can learn from the solidarity that Italian dockers showed against the racism and xenophobia of Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini. In a wonderful and class-conscious message of solidarity the autonomous collective of dockers of Genoa (Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali) have stated:
“A ship with 42 human beings on board waited for two weeks on the coast of Lampedusa. These are people fleeing war, misery, captivity. The leaders of these wars and misery sit in the European Parliament and in the Italian and European management offices. The same people who, from Rome to Strasbourg, took the responsibility to let them down.”
They are saying that they see themselves not as “heroes”, not as “politicians” but only as “simple workers in the port of Genoa.” They point to the fact that “precisely because we are workers, we can only recognize ourselves in the founding values of the working class: the brotherhood between human beings, international solidarity.”
They know that “these fleeing men and women are searching for hope.” They also know that these refugees will, “in Italy as elsewhere, have to do the most exploited and least paid work.” And these dockworkers understand that these men and women” will even enrich those who scream: we don’t want you and go back to your country.”
These dockers know too that the migrants “come here because our governments have destroyed their countries.”
They believe “that if Sea Watch 3 forces the blockade that the government wants to maintain, it should find real and active solidarity as well as all the strength that workers and anti-racists will be able to develop.” For them, migrants are welcome. The dockers say that they can block the ports, but can also open them.
“In the last few weeks”, they say, “we have blocked twice, not only the loading of a company — the Bahri company – specializing in the trafficking of weapons but we went also down to the street to ‘explain’ to the fascists and those who are stating that in our city there would not be hope.”
The dockworkers concluded: “As the 30th of June comes and Salvini plans to return to Genoa, we can only remind everyone, and first of all ourselves, that the struggle is another strong point of the tradition of the Working Class. We know how to block the ports, we can do it again.
Against the racism of the state and of fortress Europe.
Ports closed to wars.
Ports closed to racism.”
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