In these days I have tried to speak with as many protagonists as possible in this story to better understand, with local institutions, unions and associations, local journalists who follow the whole story, and finally with the same “Bulgarians”. It is always told like this: ‘Yes, some work illegally, then go digging and understand that they are all working illegally, some yes, have a contract, but for 10 working days a year and they work 200 days a year , and 10-12 hours a day. No, the children do not work, they are brought to the fields and to the buffalo farms by mothers who do not know where to leave them, but do not work at all, they only work from 14 years upwards (for 2 euros per hour) “. One wonders what concept they have of child labor.
Yes, 2-3 euros per hour are paid, men also 4, but this is the South, everyone works at these prices, waiters, pizza makers, all those who do not have a regular contract. Yes, they pay 100 euros a month for a bed in dilapidated and overcrowded houses, of which none of my interlocutors knows or wants to say who the owners are: they only say “Italian”, but not all in black. Then go dig and understand that yes, there are contracts, but not with them, they live in sublease.
Then they talk about degradation, about crime, of drug dealing. But when I ask him why the people who peddle and practice criminal activities do not earn enough with these rather profitable activities in that part of Italy and they need to go to work in the fields 12 hours a day for 2-3 euros per hour, the reasoning it blocks.
Yes, but they are not the peddlers, they are others, but it is part of the deterioration general. There is someone who says that for decades that coast has been heavily polluted and that tourism was not there. The main economic interest of the area was in agriculture. Now there are purifiers, the coast is cleared, interests have changed, tourists must be brought and in a central area of Mondragone they are now annoying, you have to send them away from there.
Vincenzo De Luca says: “Most of them are of Roma ethnicity, that is, the people who live I don’t know how”. For the regional councilor of the Pd Giovanni Zannini they are gypsies, it is not easy to make yourself understood. For the Bulgarian consul, Roma ethnic Bulgarians have a special mentality. Instead Matteo Salvini declares that the League he will give houses to those who deserve houses, work to those who deserve work, and will free Mondragone from the Roma.
But who are these Roma, Gypsies, Bulgarians, ignorant with a particular mentality? More than workers, they are slaves! Who tried to protest to be able to work, not only because he had no supplies in forced quarantine, not only because they have no right paid sick days, but above all because they are terrified that during the quarantine period their “masters” get other slaves from neighboring countries, and that they after the quarantine they can no longer find their place.
They are 700 of around 25,000 modern slaves Roma ethnicity from the poorest rural areas of the Bulgaria, in which, in addition to poverty, they suffer from a very strong and explicit racial discrimination, who work in the Italian fields producing together with other slaves of other ethnicities the delights and specialties of Italian origin and on which we listen to infinite advertising in the evening in front of the television: produced in Italy, Italian quality, Italian excellence …
But do they all come here, from southern Bulgaria to southern Italy? No, in England there are always between 20 and 25 thousand working in similar conditions. But most go in Germany. There, the number of workers in conditions almost identical to those of Mondragone are around 40 thousand. The latest Covid-19 outbreak occurred in one of the largest slaughterhouses of Germany, owned by Mr. Toennies, in which 1500 workers fell ill – a thousand of whom are Bulgarians of Roma ethnicity, from the same area of Bulgaria from which our friends from Mondragone come.
There, too, they pay € 100 per bed per month, for each day of illness the rent rises to € 10, they work with night shifts up to 16 hours, with the temperature at 22 degrees below zero. In black. For 600 euros per month. Which is more than double what they earn at home for the same type of work for the same working hours.
Nikolaj Kirilov, representative of the largest Bulgarian Roma organization, Rome Standing Conference, gives me all these numbers and says that they have officially sent a protest letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria because the consul of Bulgaria did not defend their citizens in a dramatic situation. But who do we write to?
To De Luca and his advisers? To say of open the eyes, that even the stones see how “these” live, and how has their entire region always lived, who suffers, who earns and who commands !? To Salvini, to say that theillegality of those areas does not concern the Roma at all? But even this is known by the stones. Who deserves a home? Who deserves a job? Who decides it? Salvini or our Constitution?
Italy continues to close its eyes, or choose to lower them or look the other way. It is inconvenient, for everyone, to face the truth, as it is: better to mediate, download the blame, manipulate reality. Unfortunately, only the exploited and the weakest, every now and then, put a finger in the eye telling the truth, but it does not last long, and then we return to talk about the maximum systems, the general conditions, racism in the United States and away, until the next election campaign.