Italy | 01/23/2023

Italy 2023 January

Introduction & Updates in National Landscape

The rising inflation and new taxes on oil, cigarettes, and other goods, set by Giorgia Meloni’s government, put the Italian population under economic pressure and enlarge the poverty rate in the country, though not many reactions or dissent have been organized so far. A peculiar aspect is referred to the deletion of the housing emergency fund, with thousands of evictions about to start against those pauper people accused of innocent arrears. No doubt that the main highlight of the month has been represented by the arrest of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro for 30 years on the run and despite that available around Palermo, where since last year he has been treated for cancer. He was tried and sentenced to life in jail in absentia in 2002 over numerous murders, but his sudden arrest in his home city raised many speculations, with the public opinion thinking that he had been covered by someone in the institutions so far. Nevertheless, a decisive aspect of the investigations was carried out by wiretaps, that right-wing government would like to decrease some specific crimes in order to “protect people’s privacy” in the opinion of the political majority. Facing a fragmented and harmless opposition, the right-wing majority adopts one of the traditional political tools to not focus on real, public needs, that is to say, creating ‘scapegoats’ and the spread of toxic narratives. The typical, favorite targets of nationalist parties, such as Brothers of Italy (FdI) or Lega, are always migrants and NGOs engaged in rescue in the Mediterranean basin. After the first contrast with other European states and EU Commission, Interior Minister Piantedosi decided to follow up the international agreements, letting the civil fleet save castaways, but assigning them a port of disembarkation located very far away from the rescue point of SAR, so to make each mission more expansive and longer, in other words, a new approach to hinder the humanitarian help.

Besides the migrants and before them, the “ravers,” the last scapegoat taken into account by Meloni’s government for its media smokescreen, are the anarchists. The reason derives from the case of Alfredo Cospito, one of the representatives of the Informal Anarchist Front, who in 2012 kneed a manager of the nuclear branch of Ansaldo Company, being later accused also of a bombing attack to the carabineer station in Cuneo in 2006. Though that nobody got injured and the bombs were little more than bigger firecrackers, last December, the Court of Cassation instead held that it was “a matter of massacre against the security of the State,” a crime that provides for the penalty of life imprisonment under the 41bis mandates, with almost total isolation from the outside world, only walking breaks once a week and no books or communication allowed, i.e. which does not allow one to enjoy any benefit. A request for revocation of the 41bis presented by the anarchist’s defender has been pending since 12 January, but the Court dismissed the claim against the harsh prison regime, and since that time, Cospito has carried on hunger strike with his health conditions getting day-by-day worse. As a consequence of that, there’s been an “International call to action in solidarity with Alfredo Cospito from 22 to 28 January,” with many demonstrations in Italy, clashes with police, and some specific actions even against Italian symbols or delegates abroad. Many intellectuals addressed a public call to the Minister of Justice, underlining that Cospito is the first and only anarchist or even a non-mafia prisoner treated under the 41bis mandate, which is not legally defined for similar types of crimes.

Transnational Activities & Group Interactions

Regarding transnational activities and interactions among far-right groups, not much happened during the month of January. A statement released by Interpol and recently published by the Italian press agency revealed the connection between Roberto Fiore, leader of the neofascist party New Force (FN), and the black terrorist Giuliano Cavallini, with the two living together in disguise in London after the massacre at Bologna station in 1980. The phonogram of Interpol has only recently entered the ongoing trial and also brings with it a strange anomaly: the two fundamental lines in which the English police informed their Italian colleagues of the cohabitation of Cavallini and Fiore at the time are not reported in the Italian translation. The sentences to date have convicted five far-right extremists linked to the Revolutionary Armed Nuclei (Nar) and the National Vanguard. Fiore was definitively convicted of an armed gang and subversive association as head of Third Position: he should have served at least five and a half years in prison in Italy. Instead, he remained in London, as a fugitive, until 1999, before returning home as a free man thanks to the prescription. The Interpol document, therefore, contradicts Fiore’s version, who claimed before the Bologna judges that he had never seen or known Cavallini, revealing both his international connections with the British National Party and British secret services (following a report of the European Parliament’s first Committee of Inquiry into racism and xenophobia in 1991 ); and a sort of institutional cover by the Italian security apparatus.