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State massacre in Cutru: 67 drowned migrants found so far, but there may be more than 100. Although the Italian coastguard was alerted in time to rescue a boat with almost 200 migrants on board, it did not intervene!
On the night of 26 February at around 22.30 hours, a boat was spotted by a Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency) aircraft patrolling over the sea. The boat, which was carrying almost 200 migrants in its cargo hold, was 40 miles south-east of Capo Rizzuto, in international waters, but in the Italian SAR (Search and Rescue) zone, in which Italy is obliged to provide assistance. The sea here is very rough, with waves of about two metres and increasing in size, but the Italian patrol boats, both from the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Customs) and the coastguard, can cope with the sea in these conditions without too much difficulty. Even this dilapidated and overloaded Turkish boat, which had set off from Izmir, lasted until it came to just over 100 metres off the Calabrian coast near Steccato di Cutro in the province of Crotone, where it struck the coastal rocks. It was here that children, women and men drowned in the sea.
Six hours passed between the first Frontex alert and the tragic deaths of dozens of migrants: in those six hours, the massacre at Cutro could have been prevented, and the migrants could have been rescued by the Guardia di Finanza or the coastguard patrol boats. The Guardia di Finanza patrol boats, although they could have provided assistance, did not do so and returned to port; the coastguard patrol boats did not even set sail, despite receiving the alert from Frontex. It is the Rome Coastguard Centre (Mrcc), which falls under Salvini’s Infrastructure Ministry, which has the responsibility of coordinating rescue operations at sea when a ship is in danger of sinking. However, according to il Riformista (1), the Roman centre has not given any order for a rescue operation. So the coastguard remains effectively stationary in the port. “This shipwreck,” says the NGO “Emergency”, “is the result of concrete political decisions” (2).
It is evident from the behaviour of the authorities responsible for not undertaking the rescue operation at sea that they did not intend to rescue “possible shipwrecked” directly at sea, but to wait until the boat reached the shore in order to carry out the classic police operation against illegal immigrants and smugglers. It was precisely this lack of rescue operations at sea that was the cause of this deadly catastrophe. To date, as we write, 67 bodies have been found and 81 people have survived because they could swim and managed to get ashore on their own.
After the catastrophe unfolded, the top authorities arrived, starting with Interior Minister Piantedosi; of course, they immediately boasted that they had caught some of the smugglers, and did not miss the opportunity to shed crocodile tears over the dozens and dozens of dead, including many children; and, as they have done for years, they pointed to the role of the European Union, which should be doing somewhat more on the migrant issue…
But what is characteristic of the cynical government politicians is that they blame the deaths at sea not only onto the smugglers, but also onto the migrants themselves, who set out anyway, even in dangerous conditions. The smugglers: the easiest culprits to identify, these villains whose job it is to herd large groups of migrants into semi-dilapidated barges that take them close to the coast and then leave them to their fate. However, it is clear as day that human trafficking is highly organized. Starting with those at the top – there are bosses with money and unscrupulous support labour staff at their command, who have facilities, often real lagers, where they hold migrants, exploit them, rob them, rape them, and then cram them into barges; they are the ones who pull the strings of this business, the ones who have organized their business on the misfortune of hundreds of thousands of people who are forced to flee wars, repression, misery, famine and hunger. They are the bosses who have relationships and links with local authorities and powerful people: the investigation in Libya has unequivocally brought to light situations of this kind, which the Italian Government, not since today, has exploited in an attempt to keep as many migrants as possible away from its shores. One cannot say, of course, that Turkey is like Libya; in Turkey, the Erdogan government, having “welcomed” migrants from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran or Somalia, exploits them both as very cheap labour and as a mass that can be used to blackmail European countries – blackmail that has been successful, given that Germany has so far paid Erdogan no less than EUR 6 billion to keep migrants on its territory. However, most of these migrants are trying to get to northern European countries: Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway or the United Kingdom. Turkey, Greece and Italy are therefore not their final destination, but only a transfer point. Their misfortune is that the timeframes and so-called legal routes of their escape from wars, poverty, hunger, and oppression are so lengthy and cumbersome to manage that they completely clash with the unbearable survival conditions in their own country, devastated by wars and crises. Therefore, their very precarious conditions of survival make them easy prey for human trafficking organizations. Fleeing these conditions therefore becomes their only chance of survival and they try to do so at any cost; even at the cost of their own lives, as has been the case for more than forty years.
But what is the cause of the wars, repression, misery and hunger they are fleeing from if not a social system based on capitalism and its ruthless laws of profit, if not political regimes that defend this system even at the cost of destroying homes, cities, factories, crops and the wrecking of human lives?
Nothing good can be expected from the governments of rich Europe. And if, as in the case of the Ukrainian refugees, some migrants are not looked down upon, it is only because of a cold calculation of current political expediency on the part of states, which, for imperialist power and alliance reasons, have an interest in “welcoming” the masses of migrants fleeing the devastating war in Ukraine, and to quickly turn them into cheap labour in countries with ever-declining birth rates, which need a workforce already adapted to war, who will submit without protest or equivocation to the capitalist demands of the country that “welcomes” them. It is better if this labour force is predominantly made up of women, because it is considered more docile, especially if it is made up of mothers with children, since the men have been forced to stay and “fight” and die for... a fatherland that exploited them and that would have continued to exploit them if they did not fled abroad. In dealing with migrants, the rich, white European bourgeoisie cynically pursues the policies that best defend its immediate and future interests. The fact remains that not all bourgeois factions (which usually compete and war with each other) adopt the same political methods, even though they have the same general capitalist interests. Some factions find it useful to adopt more conciliatory and “humanitarian” social attitudes in order to achieve full class cooperation and a more lasting social peace; other factions favour much more discriminatory social attitudes towards the masses of foreign origin compared to the native population, in order to defend more vigorously the bourgeois strata of which they are the representatives, generally the strata of the petty and middle bourgeoisie. The difference between the different bourgeois factions is not so clear-cut – with the exception of the big bourgeoisie, which has a firm grip on big capital, i.e., the real economic and financial power in the country, and which rarely enters the field, and then only in situations of serious threat to its power; therefore the various economic and social policies adopted do not differ in the elementary core of economic policy, but rather in their more external and variable manifestations. It is therefore obvious that there is a shift from governments led by political forces that want to be perceived as reformist and moderate to governments driven by political forces that want to be perceived as very cohesive and determined on the national line, not only ideologically but also practically; such a complex issue as the unstoppable flow of migrants is destined to become the key point around which the government itself will stake all its credibility and its ability to maintain social peace by making the native proletarians to pay part of its further costs (by increasing the flexibility of labour and thus its precarisation, by lowering wages and increasing the public debt, the burden of which falls on today’s proletarian youth and will fall on future proletarian generations), and largely on immigrant proletarians, thus de facto handing them over to the modern-day agricultural slavers who exploit their labour through the abuse of their status, and to organized crime.
So it is not surprising that a minister like Piantedosi, confronted with a massacre of children caused by the State’s non-rescue, blames the parents of the children who died in the shipwreck since they should not have set sail due to the adverse conditions at sea…; or that a minister like Salvini, for example, does not put the rescue of those shipwrecked at sea as his first priority, but the apprehension of smugglers and the imprisonment and repatriation of “illegal immigrants”. Their priorities certainly do not include that humanitarian sentiment that characterises every good Catholic and which the Pope insists on in his weekly speeches. We know very well that in the combat against the causes of wars, hunger and misery, from which millions of people flee with the prospect of a less wretched survival, charity has never been and will never be the solution; but in the absence of a state using part of its economic resources to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of wars and economic and social crises that have befallen the blameless masses, charity and “humanitarian” aid seem like a rescue falling from the sky of a caring God, and on an immediate level it does actually bring some comfort to the abandoned people. But the same abandoned, the same refugees, after the first relief – if they have been lucky enough to be rescued – usually find themselves in the very precarious conditions of survival from which they had fled, both in terms of work (in which they are often subjected to slave-like or equivalent conditions) and in terms of everyday life, if they do not yet experience racial discrimination.
The ruling bourgeois class, especially in times of economic crisis, reveals more and more openly its congenital social cannibalism: the plethora of masses who have lost everything and have nothing to offer but their own desperation and labour power, puts the bourgeoisie in a position where it can not only use a part of these masses as cheaper productive forces, but also use the other masses either as a criminal labour force (the criminal economy is an integral part of the capitalist economy) or as a mass exerting pressure on the employed to lower their wages and demands. If some of these masses then lose their lives in their desperate flight from wars and hunger, it is “misfortune”, “bad luck”, not to say “collateral damage”…
Funerals are celebrated, pieces of wood from broken down barges are filmed, the misfortunes of these “poor people” are recounted, and the usual refrain of “it must not happen again” is echoed once more; but as it has happened and happens with every tragedy, with every life destroyed by earthquake, landslide, flood, great fire, work accident, capitalist and bourgeois reality presents its accounts once more, ever more greedily. The social cannibalism of bourgeois society will never stop; to stop it, bourgeois society must be defeated, starting with its political power. However distant this goal may be, it is the only historical objective that proletarians have as the alternative in the perspective of their future. And we speak of proletarians because 99% of the migrants fleeing wars and hunger are already proletarians or have become so due to wars and poverty. We speak of proletarians because they represent the only social class that potentially has the power to confront, oppose and defeat the bourgeois ruling class. It is very true the statement that the proletarian class is the class of those without reserves, those who own nothing but their labour power, and even if they manage to own a house or a piece of land, the capitalist economic crisis will take it away from them.
But it is the productive class par excellence, it is the working class that the bourgeoisie – and therefore the capital – cannot do without, because it is from the exploitation of wage labour that capitalists extract surplus value, which is then transformed into profit through the market. It is thus a potential force that the proletariat can turn into a kinetic force, a real force for change, if it directs it towards the opposite objective to that of the bourgeoisie: that is, the abolition of wage labour, the abolition of class-divided society, and thus the destruction of capitalism as the social foundation of bourgeois ruling power and as the mode of production that places the needs of the market above all the needs of human life.
As long as capitalism stands, as long as political power remains in the hands of the bourgeois class, crisis, misery, hunger and war will always accompany the peoples of the world; the future which bourgeois society ascribes to the great proletarian masses of the world is a future in which the factors of crisis and war will increase, and hence the forced migration of whole peoples in search of a little peace and a crust of bread to eat. For the ever more numerous masses of this world, this future resembles their present like two peas in a pod.
The struggle that the migrants wage to escape the current reality of misery and hunger so that they can survive in a country where there is no war and no misery is a struggle that deserves to find support among the proletarians of the countries where the migrants land, support that is not limited to a hot meal and a blanket to keep them warm, support that is not limited to an act of charity which, does not in itself solve the very serious problem of survival that migrants bring with them, but which would represent support for the struggle, class support, because these migrants are telling us that their miserable conditions today, their wrecked lives, will be our conditions tomorrow, will be our wrecked lives tomorrow. Their struggle for survival is the struggle for the survival of every proletarian, of every country, of every nationality. It is a struggle which objectively shows at the same time the strength and the weakness of the world proletarian class. Migrants risk everything, including their lives, to escape the consequences of war and poverty; they are in solidarity with one another, they show the value of human solidarity, but their struggle will inevitably exhaust itself if the proletarians of the country in which they land do not find the same determination to fight against the causes of their forced migration. After having endured all kinds of violence, torture and slavery to reach a country where they can finally feel like human beings and not like beasts to the slaughter, it will be of little use to them if they do not find in the proletarians of the richer countries – and in the present time, when there is no war in them – the same determination to live like human beings and not like beasts to the slaughter.
Only the proletarian class struggle, the struggle that puts at its centre the defence not only of the immediate but also of the general interests of the working class, the struggle that makes every proletarian feel part of a group of men and women who want to change the destiny that bourgeois society has assigned to them since their birth; the struggle that is driven forward not only by the will to survive in a world that destroys, kills, and intoxicates human society and the natural environment, but also by the organization that is not merely the sum of many different individuals randomly situated in the same social conditions, but the union of forces moving towards common goals, with common methods and means of struggle that overcome all selfish and personal calculations. This class struggle can flare up on the condition that the proletarians manage to overcome the obstacles that the bourgeoisie has built up over decades and decades of its domination, above all the competition between proletarians themselves, between native proletarians and immigrant proletarians, between proletarian men and proletarian women, between the better educated and the less educated, the skilled and the unskilled.
And so the struggle that can be waged today must begin here, from the struggle against competition among the proletarians themselves, and it must be the native proletarians, in this case the Italian proletarians, who must take the first step to organize together with the immigrant proletarians, to fight for equal wages between the natives and the immigrants, to fight for the integration of the immigrants and against all discrimination against them, against all the bureaucratic obligations that subject them to constant hardship to obtain visas, residence permits, rental housing, a place in kindergarten for their children; to fight against illegal work and underpaid work, and to strike together, even if the only people affected are immigrants.
If the Italian proletarians do not take this step, not only will they become complicit in the discrimination and bullying of immigrant proletarians, but they are also unconsciously setting themselves up to become the beasts to slaughter every time the capitalist bourgeoisie faces an economic, corporate or national crisis, or even a crisis of war.
(1) See https://www.ilriformista.it/ la-strage-di- cutro-si-poteva-evitare-perche -la-guardia-costiera- non- e-arrivata-345771/
(2) See https://www.today.it/ attualita/ migranti-morti- naufragio- calabria- polemica.html
March, 1st 2022
International Communist Party
Il comunista - le prolétaire - el proletario - proletarian - programme communiste - el programa comunista - Communist Program
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