Proposal for a camp on migrant work and against border control
05.Jun.03 - In the time of neo-liberal globalization and perpetual war, forms of
apartheid have spread within Western society. A climate of repression has
prevailed throughout Europe around the question of the freedom of movement
and rights of migrants. A repression that gives rise to ever more
instruments of exploitation and detention.
The growing fortification and militarization of national boundaries,
exacerbated by harsher measures of expulsion and administrative detention
and by the introduction of new criminal offences, has furthered the process
of "clandestinization" of immigration and the consequential exploitation of
migrant workers. Behind the rhetoric of "firmness" against clandestine
immigration is the assurance of a quota of workers within the country who
are forced to endure conditions of total exploitation and who are denied any
protection of civil and social rights. The recent changes to the immigration
law in Italy - the so-called "Bossi-Fini" law - have introduced the
"contract of residence" which rigidly links the possibility of residence
with regular employment, exposing even more explicitly the hidden intentions
behind the politics of immigration control which serve to benefit those with
powerful economic interests. Linking the residence permit to the place of
work transforms individuals into nothing more than a workforce, namely,
economically usable and always replaceable commodities. This is even more so
for irregular immigrants who have no form of legal protection in the work
place, and for whom reporting conditions of exploitation often means running
the risk of expulsion from the country. Policies of this kind are now
coordinated throughout Europe, integrated on legislative, informational, and
military levels. For refugees and those in exile, the doors are increasingly
closed (and in countries such as Italy, were never open), while "Enduring
Freedom" promises to bring yet more war and devastation to much of the
world's population. The brutal price of these xenophobic and criminalizing
decisions is paid by millions of women and men with their lives, repression,
It is reasonable to think that these policies do not correspond solely to
the necessity of control and division of the workforce on an international
scale. Neither, is their only aim to turn migrants into "sacrificial lambs"
for the problems of instable contemporary societies. From a perspective
dominated by the paradigm of insecurity (work, existential...) the social
'inferiorization' of migrants represents a dark side of modernity:
re-defining social links and new models of sovereignty in which the welfare
state is replaced by a state based on punishment and repression.
At the same time the reality of migration, in other words the actual and
continual practice of "the right to exit" from the present disasters of
globalization, constitutes a fundamental element in the struggle against the
neo-liberal order and a resource for the emancipation of women and men from
the domination of commodity and profit.
Migrants can be considered a potential sort of 'virus' which is able to
spread the idea "Another world is possible", the powerful narrative which
after Seattle and Genoa signalled a global transformation of social
As a result of migrants' nomadic subjectivity new individual and collective
forms of action and knowledge are being experimented in the face of
repressive polices. In such a context, the struggle against this situation
of apartheid involves the whole society and is not simply limited to
solidarity: there are no labour conflicts, social or political struggles
that can be claimed without considering migration.
As a result of the growing role of migrants in social movements (including
those countries where immigration is a recent phenomenon as in the case of
Italy) the awareness of these processes is now spreading across "the
movement of movements". Anti-racism is finally gathering mass participation.
The European Social Forum in Florence in November 2002 represented a step
forward in the construction of a global movement for the freedom of
circulation and the rights to citizenship, and we think that our efforts and
proposals should be aimed in this direction.
Our proposal is for a camp in Puglia from 21st to 27th July 2003 around the
themes of border controls, migrant work and citizenship rights. The
initiative is part of a series of proposals and campaigns launched at the
European Social Forum held in Florence last November. Puglia has been chosen
due to its position on the edge of "Fortress Europe" (its territory is
characterized by a strong militarization and the presence of administrative
detention centres) and because of the presence of thousands of migrants who
work under conditions of total exploitation, especially in the agricultural
The camp wants to involve anti-racist organizations as well as other social
movements and workers' organizations. It is the first experience of this
kind in Italy, while similar experiences are common in other European
Countries. In the area where we intend to locate the camp (Frassanito,
Puglia) there are numerous centres for the administrative detention of
migrants and, during the summer, the region is characterized by the presence
of many migrants working in agriculture. It is important to remember that
during the last few years the number of legal admittances to work in
Southern Italy has been ridiculously low due the Italian government's
preference for an agricultural development based on the exploitation of
clandestine migrants and black-market work.
The programme of the camp includes a series of workshops as well as direct
actions and initiatives. Our goal is to share the knowledge acquired within
the various anti-racist movements, as well as the legal expertise around,
for instance, the protection of migrants' and refugees' social rights (e.g.
health), but also practical knowledge developed during direct actions
against the expulsion of aliens, administrative detention centres and
mechanisms of social exclusion. During the camp we want to organize
demonstrations and interventions against the administrative detention
centres and the militarization of the territory, and an investigation into
the various aspects of immigrant employment in Europe. We also want to agree
with migrant workers on direct actions against labour exploitation. One of
our objectives is to expose the connection between expulsion programmes and
activities of NGOs, with special regard to the conduct of the IOM.
However, this camp does not want to involve just anti-racist organizations.
One of the main goals is to favour cooperation and awareness among all the
individuals and groups acting in social movements. It is necessary to
overcome the actual situation where, except in the case of mass
demonstrations, the daily struggle for migrants' rights is delegated to
specialised anti-racist activists.
Another important theme is the growing political self-organization of
migrants, and we intend to debate this issue throughout the duration of the
camp. However, apartheid policies can only be defeated if the social
movements become aware of the central role that these policies play within
the neo-liberal agenda. We have to defeat the isolation of migrants'
struggles. For this reason, we propose that the camp be developed in
cooperation: a) with activists working in the field of communication, so as
to break the wall of indifference around migrants and to expose the
hypocrisy and hostility of the mass media; b) with organized workers'
movements and unions, so as to investigate and confront the political and
legal mechanisms that govern migrants' work. We propose to hold during the
camp a European meeting in order to continue the debates and campaigns
commenced in Florence.
Programme for meetings and actions:
- 21 welcoming day
- 22 meeting of the Comitato Immigrati in Italia (Italian Immigrant
- 23 action against borders
- 24 actions related to migrant work (to be decided)
- 25 meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean anti-racism movement
- 26 demonstration against a centre for administrative detention
- 27 meeting of the Italian anti-racism movement
workshops on 4 themes:
- Border control and action against it.
- Migrants work.
- European policies
- Communication (concerning also freedom of movement/freedom of expression).
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