In which world do we want to live?

In which world do we want to live?

We need to ask ourselves: in which world do we want to live? Do we want to let the refugees die outside our EU boarders? No, because black lives matter as ours do.

I couldn’t say “I am Charlie Hebdo” because I am also the boy in Gaza or the women in Africa dying every day without the spotlights and media attention put on them. I am all those lives killed in vain by violence, by hunger, by poverty. I don’t feel the ones closer than the others. They aren’t children of a lesser god. We are all the same.

So if we don’t want to let the refugees drown in the sea (0r being tortured and killed by Libyan militias), do we want to let them all inside the EU?

Why not? First, what does it mean “all”? Do you really think it is so nice and easy to leave your country, your language, your family, your raices, your beloved ones? Do you really think we here are so special that everybody wants to be like we are and live like we do here with us? Did you know that already today, 80% of the African refugees and migrants remain within their continent and the majority  of those who leave Africa is going to Middle East and elsewhere but not to Europe?

But OK, let’s assume, 30 millions of Africans want to migrate to the EU over the next 10 years. This is less than 10% of our European population. If we distribute them equally within Europe (in effect, we don’t have a refugee crisis, we have a EU crisis, lack of solidarity with Italy, Greece, Spain), if everybody get’s 10% growth of its population, this would mean Germany would get 8 Mio over the next 10 years. 800.000 per year, the number of people that arrived in 2015/2016. This would mean a huge integration effort, yes. Jobs would have to be shared with the new immigrants, cheaper labor force would be available in our countries until they reach the same language and skill level as ours. But let’s be realistic: A part from the huge administration problems due to our bureaucracy, we absorbed those 800.000 quite well, didn’t we? Or did YOU personally have a problem or disadvantage due to an immigrant? And if so, isn’t it that your local or regional or national government neglected you situation already before? So why do you still vote for the center and right-wing parties instead of voting for those who protect the right of workers, pensions, poor housings, etc.?

Integrating immigrants is nothing special, at the contrary, it is quite normal. At least is was for decades, for centuries. Millions of Germans and Italians emigrated to the US or to Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. Millions of people from the Balkans, from Turkey, Spain and Greece arrived in Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. Millions of Germany migrated within Germany, from East to West, after World War II and after 1989. Society and economy absorbed them. So why is it a problem now? Both sides benefit: Cheap labor for the local industry, a better life not only for those coming but also for their families left behind.

Did you know that already today, the remittences of the African diaspora are more than the EU development aid for Africa? What this means is: allowing legal immigration to Europe would be the far better way to spend money to help Africa because this kind money arrives where it is needed most: directly at the poor families and not at the corrupt goverments.

You are not convinced? OK, if you don’t want to let the immigrants in, but you still don’t want to live in a world where men, women and children are drowning in the sea, we need to help them to make their countries a better places so they aren’t forced to migrate. Yes, this is surely what our European Politicians want to achieve or claim to achieve these days. The problem is, the current approaches by our politicians will not lead us there. They haven’t over the last 60 years, they won’t today because the entire Paradigm is still wrong.

We need a Shift of Paradigm.

No longer should we behave in this world as if it was only belonging to us, “the successful ones”, and not to everybody. No longer should we behave as if we are the better ones and have more rights, only because we are economically wealthier. We must stop thinking that we merit this wealth, that our success is due to our culture or race or because we work so hard or are so democratic by birth. This is racism.

Our economic wealth is based on the poverty of others. This is not a buzzword, but a fact. Look at our history. As a professor from the University of Pretoria put it: “The underdevelopment of Africa is not accidental, it was necessary to develop Europe. The wars in Africa were necessary to have peace in Europe. That legacy did decline, but not disappear. France wanted to get rid of Muhammed Gaddafi who wanted to unite Africa, to be stronger in the international negotiations. Preventing Africa from being an equal member in the international community is preventing the world to offer wealth for all. There was never charity from Europe, although it was said it was donation, it was for constructing their own security. No African country was designed by Africans, it was designed in Berlin, in Europe. We need to make sure that we have governments legitimately elected by the people and working for the people. We have to fight corruption. We have to re-think the European-African partnership”.

We must stop supporting wars in AfricaWe need to stop selling arms. No military intervention any more. No games of throne any more: if we like a dictator we support him, if we don’t like a (maybe even elected) head of state, we bomb him. We must stop bombing head of states that are not willing to do what we want them to do (Irak, Libya, Syria), cynically in the name of “human rights”.

We must stop emptying the international seas in front of Africa. Africans should be put in the position to  manage the fishing industry dominated by our countries instead.  We must stop sending cheap freezes chicken wings to Africa, destroying their local chicken industry. We must not force them to accept our “EPA”, Economic Partnership Agreements, that allow us to fled their markets with our goods. In exchange to give them the chance to export what they want to us. Apart from the fact that they are already allowed to export everything but arms (“EBA”), what the hell should they export? African countries are producing all more or less the same – goods that they were forced to produce during colonialism like coffee, grain and later raw materials for our mobile phones. We must stop to damnify economically African countries.

We must stop talking from government to government only. We need to involve Civil Society on both sides. Money should go to Civil Society movements and not to corrupt regimes. My favorite is to let immigrants work here and let them send their money to their families at home. They all know far better than we our our governments where to invest it for their own benefit.

We must stop corruption. Yes, some of the African regimes are corrupt, but they are corrupted by us, by our industries and indirectly also by our governments, that at the best do nothing against corruption. The current president of Botswana stole millions of Dollars that should have gone to his people, but instead he bought a beautiful villa and yacht in the South of France. Why does the France government allow this? It would be easy to put him on a blacklist and confiscate or freeze his money. The US does this everyday with people “not wanted” by their government: freezing their bank accounts and not letting them into their country.

We must stop all this aid-stuff. 80% of the aid of all governmental organizations remain within the organizations itself or go to people of the wealthy countries. That’s bullshit. Stop it. Let’s rather invest this money here in welcoming immigrants and improving the life of our own economically weak people so they accept immigrants better. And let’s invest a smaller part of it in Civil Society movements that are not-profit-oriented. African representatives told me: Stop sending us money. Keep your money. Transfer technical know how and give us tools to build up and diversify our industries, let us add value to the raw materials we currently sell you. Yes. But that is not in our economic interest. This would mean pay more for goods produced in Africa and get competition to the goods produced here.

During the 200 year old struggle for liberté and equalité we forget about the third value, the fraternité. There is enough in this planet for all, but we need to distribute more equally. This means: less for us, more for the others. Are you ready?

In which world do YOU want to live?

„Mafia? No Thanks!“ 

„Mafia? No Thanks!“ 

Since a few days I am a brand-new member of a German association called „Mafia? Nein Danke!“ (Mafia?NoThanks!) founded by Laura Garavini, a member of the Italian parliament and a member of the Italian-German parliamentary group, shortly after the killings in Duisburg in August 2007 by ’ndrangheta, the mafia of Calabria. Only a few weeks later, the same organization tried to extort money from restaurants in Berlin. But they failed. Over 40 restaurant owners stand together with the support of Mafia?NeinDanke! and denounced the racketeers. They were all arrested in the last night of the year 2007. Since then, Mafia?NeinDanke! is active in informing about the activities in Germany of the 4 Italian criminal organizations Camorra, ’ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita and the Sicilian Mafia.

This week they co-organized a conference in Berlin that took place on July 12th in the Italian embassy in Berlin: „For freedom and security – how do we approach the organized crime in Europe?” The list of speakers was very high-level: Italian and German prosecutors, politicians, journalists, judges, scientists, experts on money-laundering, Europol and I learned many lessons about the Italian mafias in Germany.

Did you know that:

  • That Germany is the country #1 for laundering of mafia’s bloody money?
  • There are 600 mafiosi known names in Germany of which 300 are from ’ndrangheta alone?
  • Every Euro you spend for fake Prada or illegal cigarettes as well as obviously for drugs are making mafia richer?
  • That if you go to the Oktoberfest or Café at/near Marienplatz in Munich mafia is sitting at your table?
  • That mafia is dealing with faked drugs like Viagra and that „faked drugs are the new cocaine“ as the revenue is enormous?

The dutch flower market is infiltrated by ’ndrangheta, many real estate assets near the German Ostküste (Eastern Sea) are in Mafia’s hands as well. Mafia is globalizing and so should Anti-Mafia. European laws need to harmonize here, we all have to learn from Italians here. But there is still a log way to go, although some first steps have been finally made this year: in April German parliament finally passed a law that allows prosecutors to confiscate money or other assets of members of mafia and in May a new law against money laundering was adopted. What is still missing is the rest of the necessary anti-mafia-package of laws and regulations: we need a law that being a member of a mafia organization is already a crime, we need a better regulation to protect former mafia bosses who want to collaborate with the authorities (similar to the „Kronzeugenregelung“ introduced during terrorism in Germany in the seventies), but above all we need a mafia specific regulation that it is up to the person suspicious of being a mafioso to demonstrate where his money comes from. At the conference the ministers of interior announced instead celebrated their successes. (Here is a summary in German). But they are not enough.

Why should we care? Why should YOU care as well?

Well, the huge amount of illegal money in the hands of Mafia affects us all sooner or later. It threatens democracy and fair rules. Mafia is involved in public tenders. YOUR COMPANY might be losing a tender because mafia imposes his own vendors. YOUR COMPANY might lose against a competitor because mafia can offer lower prices. Remember: they don’t need to make profit, they only need to launder the dirty money. If your company looses, you loose: Best case, your bonus. Worst case, your job.

You meet them everywhere: Mafia is involved in drug business (remember when you smoke your next joint), in human trafficking (sex workers, refugees, forced labour i.e. in meat industry, etc.), in the entire food chain (!) (think about the bad Döner meat), in faked medicine/drugs as above, in game of hazard/slot machines, in waste business, above all very dangerous waste, fake clothing / „fake Prada“, illegal (and fake) cigarettes as well.

To be more concrete: ’Ndrangheta is active in Tübingen, Ravensburg, Berlin, Freiburg, Donau-Eschingen, Villingen-Schwenningen, Frankfurt, Ludwigsburg, Mannheim, Singen, Stuttgart, Münster, München, Nürnberg, Kassel, Marburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Riesa, Wismar, Erfurt, Weimar, Saarbrücken, Siegburg, Krefeld, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Hagen, Köln, Aachen, Bochum, Detmold, Essen, Gelsenkirchen.

The independent journalists of CORRECTIV put together many articles about Mafia in Germany (and Italy). You can find them here.

The huge amount of money (mostly from drugs) is invested/laundered in legal businesses, representing unfair competition. To YOUR COMPANY. If you live in Italy, democracy is directly affected by mafia, influencing the results of elections. Selling and buying votes. That is not fair, not democratic. Mafia puts at risk our democracies and affects our lives – in Italy more than in Germany, but also in Germany we are not Mafia- free.

Not at all.

Palermo’s Addiopizzo! Good-bye racketeer! 

Palermo’s Addiopizzo! Good-bye racketeer! 

Last week I have been in Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

You might have heard that in Palermo there is mafia and that mafia asks all owners of commercial activities or restaurants to pay a fee, called „pizzo“ (= „Protection fee“). Otherwise they will put fire on your shop or even kill you, as they did 1982 with merchant Pietro Grassi who wrote an open letter to his racketeers refusing to pay. („Lettera al mio caro estorsore“).

Good news is: this practice is no longer that widespread! In 2004, a group of recently graduated students wanted to open their own bar, but while they were writing their business plan they had to take into account also the expenses to pay the „pizzo“ to the local mafia. Higher costs meant to rise prices, making their customers pay indirectly to mafia as well. Frustrated by this mere idea they printed thousands of stickers saying „an entire nation that pays the pizzo is a nation without dignity“. Being called to be a person „without dignity“ in the dialect of Palermo is a huge offense. In a warm summer night, at the end of June 2004, the team and their friends attached those stickers all over Palermo. Literally everywhere. The next morning the local (and later the day also the national) news were reporting on this brave and courageous act. „Addiopizzo“ was born, a movement joined today by more than 1000 entrepreneurs and restaurant owners that refuse to pay to Mafia joined by normal citizens supporting the fight against mafia.

Surprisingly, until today, none of them ever got trouble with mafia!

Addiopizzo was very smart in achieving their goals. Instead of trying to start with recruiting merchants, they decided to start first with collecting the signature of 3.500 citizens that committed to buy from mafia-free Shops or eat in mafia-free restaurants. Only with this list, the potential customers, they started to contact the owners of bars, restaurants and shops and ask them if they wanted to join the movement. At that point, their major fear, to be alone and avoided by customers, was gone.

All applicants are thoroughly examined and once official members, they received a sticker to put at the windows of their shops or bars or restaurants saying that they won’t pay to mafia. This sticker today is a deterrent to mafia asking for money.

But Addiopizzo did more than that: They published the list, they continually widen the number of participants and continued to support all those owners against mafia: once a year Addiopizzo organizes a fairy where they bring together pizzo-free merchants and potential customers, means, all those Palermitans that are well aware that buying goods or eating pizza in other places means that part of the money they spend goes directly to the Mafia and supports their bloody and dirty affairs.

If you ever have the change to go to Palermo, please check out the list and buy and eat there to support those who stand agains mafia. There is also a very nice app for your smartphone, called NOMA, which contains the updated list, as well as other information about mafia.

If you are generally interested in the anti-mafia movement I strongly recommend to take the tour „PalermoNoMafia“ in English or Italian, a 3 hours tour at the very heart of Palermo by AddiopizzoTravel. The money you pay helps to support the movement. The tour guides are very professional, dismantling the folkloristic view about mafia deriving from movies like „The Godfather“, explaining you instead the much more complex reality as well as the history of the movement against mafia that became a mass-movement after the killing of the two judges Falcone and Borsellino in 1992.

You can book this basic tour via TripAdvisor / Viator here. Depending on the level of your interest, there are even more tours about Mafia and Anti-Mafia by Addiopizzotravel, you can find them here.

The German broadcast ZDF talks about Addiopizzo and the tour we took here with Chiara at Minute 7’30” for seven minutes.