Thoughts and actions suggested by Associazione
For people's dignity, against neoliberism.
This document presents the political work carried out by our association,
with reflections concentrating mainly on this last year and a few
words regarding the most significant experiences of preceding years.
It was written by the Milan collective of the association: "Ya
Basta! For the dignity of all people against neoliberism", and
it is mainly an introduction to the nature of this collective and
the activities it carries out in the city, with a mention of the most
significant national and international events we have taken part in
and which are part of a general, common route.
It begins with a summary of the actions carried out, with brief notes
on the practical initiatives which produced this approach to politics
and a short account of long term projects. It ends with a chronological
list of the actions performed up to now.
You can contact us at:
Associazione Ya Basta!
For people dignity against neoliberism
Via Watteau 7
20125 Milano (Italia)
phone: (39) 02.67.05.185
fax: (39) 02.67.05.621
e-mail: email@example.comWe have seen men and women born in other lands
join the fight for peace.
We have seen some, in their own lands,
start building the long bridge that says "You are not alone",
We have seen them take action and cry out their 'Ya Basta'.
First we saw them imagine and put into practice their demands for
Marching like those who sing, writing like those who shout,
speaking like those who march.
We have seen all these flashes of lightening rebound in the skies
and reach our own lands with all the various names of José,
with the faces of all those, in all worlds, who want to make a place
WE ARE AN ARMY OF DREAMERS, THIS IS WHY
WE ARE INVINCIBLE
Ya Basta Association! For the dignity of all
peoples, against neoliberism.
The Zapatist movement is a popular resistence movement, which aims
to defend the right to survival and self-determination of the indigenous
peoples of Chiapas. In the summer of 1996 thousands of people from
all over the world gathered in the rebellious south east of Mexico,
to support the Zapatist movement with their presence and to take part
in the global meeting of liberation movements, that was known as the
Ist International Meeting for Humanity and against Neoliberism.
A group of Italian delegates (many of whom were activists from the
Social Centres) decided to establish an association that would be
a useful tool for supporting the Zapatists' fight in Chiapas and their
struggle against neoliberism in Europe, an association that would
facilitate the projects of the Italian Zapatist movement, allowing
access to resources and opportunities that an informal structure would
not have had, a further tool for the activities that the independent
movements had always carried out, and that would maintain their particular
features and content.
We mean to fight the neoliberist economic doctrine and the policies
that sustain it by protecting private interests and causing conflict
and fights for survival. These are practices carried out by economic
or political institutions without the consensus of the women and men
who feel their consequences directly.
We aim to promote and support all initiatives which stress the need
to reclaim visibility, and take action to fight this 'development'
by showing its consequences -- too easily forgotten or ignored by
the establishment causing them.
Over the years we have maintained direct relations with Chiapas, organizing
and collaborating on aid projects promoted, in accordance with the
objectives of the EZLN, by the Zapatist movement, by ourselves and
by other organisations from all over the world.
We also aim to defend a communication circuit to share our experiences
and to enhance solidarity between grassroots movements. This is why
we spread information regarding Chiapas, trying to broaden the awareness
of the situation in South East Mexico and to strengthen the international
This is a two-way circuit and, having learnt our lesson, we intend
to develop an analysis of the consequences of international economic
programming, to oppose the threat to our right to survival, to freedom
and to dignity.
The request advanced by the Zapatists to the Europeans to "start
a revolution' in the European power centres of the international market
and capital system leads us to reflect on the major transformations
in the production system of countries with a high concentration of
capital. It encourages a closer focus on the new production categories
and on the new forms of exploitation, which carry with them the removal
of even the limited past guarantees on the right to a "dignified
existence". This is hat led us to join the "White Overalls"
To be a Zapatist in Europe also means fighting alongside the many
victims of the neoliberist monster, one of whose hearts beats in our
own territories: victims like migrants without documents, the civilian
victims of the war in the Balkans, the Kurds, the farmers oppressed
by the multinationals, liberation movements throughout the world.
We recognise the unique capacity of the Zapatist movement to read
the transformations taking place in the structure of dominion and
of strong, protected interests, and to elaborate the necessary transformations
in the liberation processes that those excluded from this structure
take part in. This transformation is necessarily permanent and continuous,
and requires a corresponding, on-going reflection and re-definition
of the best way to make the form of struggle appropriate to its liberation
We march with questions on our lips, not with
an approved and certified liberation procedure: the invariable and
certain truths, the taboos that filled the political movements must
be abandoned. For us, "webbing a society" coincides with
the practice of having a sure identity but open relations: speaking
to a wider number of people whilst continuing the real and direct
practice of political struggle. We continue the practice of suggesting
and facilitating the direct action of new legalities stemming from
the defence of self-determination as a basic political practice of
the reference scenario of the groups that practise it. This generates
relationships with many other, diverse subjects who accept the premises
and the aims of this route. The basic dimension in the political scenario,
indicated by the Zapatists as the communication and strategies of
access to communication, impose close attention to the strategies
of attack that may help reach this target.
Our association exists at a national level, with some ten centres
in different Italian towns and cities.
We keep in constant contact with a network of Italian social centres:
those dozens of political associations which, from the seventies up
to the present, have been part of the radical, antagonistic left-wing
movement in Italy, linked to the struggle for the rights of those
excluded from the economic resources distribution system, fighting
for the right to housing, to better working conditions, to a better
income, against heroin and hard drugs, against military powers and
their wars, for people's freedom of movement and for the rights of
migrants, for greater freedom, greater equality, true justice.
Our association has its quarters in the Leoncavallo Social Centre,
with which we work together.
Our network is organising itself in a coordinated but decentralised
form to take part in common battles: in the North-West of the country
a network of social centres and associations has been set up - the
"Forum Nord Ovest". The "Carta di Milano" is a
From the north of the Mediterranean to the
south-east of Mexico
Since our foundation, we have supported the Zapatist struggle, collecting
and sending funds as well as spreading information on the situation
in Chiapas. To support the rebel communities we constantly organise
work brigades of observers and co-workers.
August 1996 1st Intercontinental Meeting for Humanity, against Neoliberism
April 1997 Publication in Italy of the Acts of the First Intercontinental
Meeting for Humanity, against Neoliberism
August 1997 Participation at IInd Intercontinental Meeting for Humanity,
19 September 1997 First visit to Italy by representatives of the EZLN
September 1997 Start of financing for the project to build an electricity
December-January 1997 Demonstrations condemning the mass murder in
1-10 May 1998 A bridge flies to Chiapas
June 1998 Occupation of local Milan council chambers
12 June 1998 Occupation of La Scala opera-house, Milan
13-14 June 1998 Organisation in Milan of the European Meeting of the
support committees to the Zapatist struggle
25 June Direct action at the "Corriere della Sera" newspaper
September 1998 Start of financing for the health project "Los
Altos - Chiapas" (see p. 6)
28-29 November 1998 Organisation of the Forum for Chiapas
21 March 1999 Consulta in support of the S. Andres agreements We have
seen them cross the long bridge and, from their own lands, arrive
here in ours, after fighting their way across frontiers and oceans,
to observe and condemn war.
We have seen them arrive here to let us know that we are not alone.
We have seen them persecuted and oppressed like us.
We have seen them being beaten like us.
We have seen them insulted as we are.
We have seen them resist like us.
We have seen them staying, although they were chased away.
We have seen them in their own lands telling us what they have seen
with their own eyes, and showing us what they have heard with their
We have seen them go on fighting.
TO CAPITALIST GLOBALIZATION WE RESPOND WITH
Grassroots diplomacy: Horizontal relations
and international co-operation
It is of vital importance to regain our international relations in
times when we share the same destiny as those thousands of kilometres
away, and this is no longer based soley on belonging to a global system
that distributes privileges and exploitation on the basis of social
class, but relies increasingly on a mechanism of workers or consumers
as cogs in the machines run by private or government multinational
systems integrated structures feeding, with women and men,
their thousands stomachs spread all over the planet.
Peasants from Chile and Italian salesgirls are all exploited in the
same way, so that an Italian fashion house can sell its pullovers;
young Indonesians and young Mexicans lose their right to their books
because of decisions taken in the same building; an elderly Kurd or
a child in the Balkans are killed by
bullets bearing the same brand name but used with different excuses,
to protect the same military interests.
Today, those who do not buy or sell weapons find them aimed against
And what about those who refuse a world of mono-cultural nations and
seek a world made of differences,
a world containing many worlds, a world without borders?
In Serbia and in Kosovo these people are done away with, in Europe
they are isolated, stopped in the night in a tunnel before a border
and sent back.
Those who believe in a better world and fight to get it, find a bomb
dropped onto them, a gun aimed at them, a truncheon waiting.
Regaining our international relations thus
means a direct contact with people, groups, movements, individuals
and communities that identify with the same, mutual condition as fodder
for the many-headed neoliberist monster. It means avoiding the mediation
of large national and multinational bodies and fighting material and
mental boundaries, so as to build direct relationships consisting
of shared struggles, exchange of information, memories, future plans.
In this approach to international relations, the support to the cause
of the Kurdish people emerges naturally from the support to rebellious
Chiapas as does the condemnation of the Balkan war which saw the heavy
involvement of our government.
It was just as natural to promote Carovan '99 in Europe and in our
own country, seeing in this event a unique example of globalization
of the struggle, the up-dating of the opposition movements to face
the new themes imposed by the power system (such as biotechnology)
- an opportunity to try out alternatives involving the construction
of political co-operation and economic independence at a grassroots
level, whilst struggling to regain resources circulating at high speed
through the institutional arteries of the neoliberist monster.
When the same paths have been trodden, the same bowl of rice has been
shared and the same songs have been sung, time shared generates shared
dreams and grassroots diplomacy opens up new prospectives, long-term
Routes for grassroots diplomacy
From the very beginning the spread of information on the situation
and dispatch of funds and work brigades.
August 1996 Ist Intercontinental Meeting for Humanity against Neoliberism
April 1997 Publication of the Acts of the First Intercontinental Meeting
for Humanity, against Neoliberism
August 1997 Participation at IInd Intercontinental Meeting for Humanity,
19 September 1997 First visit to Italy by representatives of the EZLN
1-10 May 1998 A bridge flies to Chiapas
13-14 June 1998 Organisation of a European Meeting of the support
committees for the Zapatist struggle, in Milan.
28-29 November 1998 Organisation of the Forum for Chiapas
21 March 1999 Consulta in support of the S.Andres agreements
12 December 1998 The ferry of universal citizenship
30 April-4 May caravan against war in Belgrade and in Pancevo
September 1998 Trial in Istanbul
November 1998 Thousands of Kurds gather in our country
21 March 1999 Nevroz
13 June 1997 First European day of protest against unemployment and
27 March European demonstration in Paris For solidarity and open borders
22 May-20 June 1999 Participation in Caravan '99
International Co-operation Projects:
September 1997 saw the beginning of fund-raising for a project to
build a small, environment-friendly electricity turbine at La Realidad,
From September 1998 onwards came a fund-raising campaign for the health
project "Los Altos - Chiapas", a project prepared by the
Zapatist communities and the EZLN. The project plans an intervention
in the Oventic area, Aguascalientes II, to improve the supply of sanitary
equipment and pharmaceuticals to the clinic "La Guadalupana"
at Oventic (support given by the Leoncavallo Social Centre through
the publication of the first book on Zapatism in Italy, "Stories
for a Night of Asphyxiation", written by Subcomandante Marcos),
and the building of four rural health centres in the surrounding communities
with the development of a training system that will enable the project
to be managed in the future by local people.
Up to the present we have contributed around 15 million lire through
self-financing activities, whilst, by means of talks with local town
and city councils, we have succeeded in gaining recognition of the
communities and recovering part of the money that the neoliberist
system steals from us, obtaining 10,000,000 lire from the Genoa City
Council, 35,000,000 lire from the Milan provincial authorities and
2,000,000 lire from S. Giuliano Milanese.
On 21 March 1999 the Nevroz festival was organised for the hundreds
of Kurdish people resident in northern Italy.
Following our presence in the Balkans, we planned a civil society
observatory to facilitate the entry of migrants from Albania to Italy.
We are also preparing: student exchanges between Milan, Belgrade and
Pristina lasting 12/15 months; an international seminar lasting two
weeks on the conflict in the Balkans; opportunities for peoples' diplomacy
for the Spring of 2000, involving groups of students from these same
cities, with special workshops (for philosophy and architecture).
These projects will be organised in collaboration with an independent
Italian student collective, the students' league of Belgrade and the
students of Pristina,
with funds from the respective universities and, if possible, European
We are participating in a European co-ordination project of the independent
networks working on migration- related issues.
Every foreigner who arrives in other peoples' territories has the
right not to be treated with hostility
and the right of access belonging to all men, in virtue of their common
presence on the surface of the Earth, on which, being spherical, men
cannot spread out infinitely but have to tolerate one another's vicinity,
since one has no greater original right than another to any given
portion of the Earth.
SUPPOSING WE BEGAN TO BE PERSUADED THAT
THE WOMEN AND MEN
WHO ATTEMPT TO CROSS THE LONG BORDERS THAT DIVIDE UP THE WORLD ARE
NOT ALIENS BUT CITIZENS OF THE WORLD
1. The fourth world war has begun: this conflict is the cause of the
new waves of migration. They are migrations typical of the new, post-Fordist
age. The migrants, whether they are greeted as political or environmental
refugees or, as happens with increasing frequency, as prisoners and/or
unwelcome aliens, are the victims of what Marcos has described as
the fourth world war, that of neo-liberism against humanity. From
1975-1995 the number of political refugees has risen from approximately
2 to 23-36
million. This is a figure that is leading to a tightening of European
laws on the right of asylum: over the last four years the number of
requests for asylum has dropped considerably. Yet, as the restrictions
regarding requests for asylum become tighter the number of migrants
continues to grow massively: today, they're estimated at about 120
million.. In most cases these migrants are attempting to move from
the south of the world to the north. They are fleeing poverty and
wars brought to them by the "developed" world. They are
fleeing impoverishment caused by the murderous and genocidal policies
of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which, largely
by means of their Structural Changes, have starved the poorer people.
In addition, all the free trade treaties, which have extended to agriculture
over the past few years, are destroying local markets, causing more
and more poverty, abandonment of the land and a desperate flight to
the cities in search of a salary, which is hard to come by. The city,
but even more the North, is a mirage - the only possibility for avoiding
the poverty caused by the neoliberist empire. The flight from South
Mexico towards the States is just one example. All
migrants are political refugees from the fourth world war and, as
such, they should be welcomed.
The right to hospitality must be respected!
No distinction between migrants and refugees, goodies and baddies!
A welcome for all the victims of the IVth world war!
2. Neoliberism shows its true repressive face.
There are no laws to welcome these migrants, we are told. New ones
must be invented, argue the left-wing politicians. But the truth lies
elsewhere: at the end of the millenium neoliberism is showing its
true colours: human rights are only the rights of 'legal' citizens
and can be acquired only by bloodshed or inheritance. Those who have
the wrong skin colour do not have the same rights. Freedom of movement
and domicile are permitted to capital and to goods, but not to all
human beings. Our answer to inherited, blood rights is the right to
the soil. Our answer to the free movement of goods and capital is
the free movement of people. The new laws legitimizing expulsion camps
throughout the Europe of Schengen and the funds for creating centres
around the edges of the Schengen borders, bought and sold by means
of bi-lateral agreements, show a serious trend towards a police state
people are imprisoned without having committed any crime. People are
imprisoned because they were born elsewhere and they want to come
to the north. They end up in rison without even seeing a judge or
a lawyer. Detention by the authorities is, in fact, a violation of
art.3 of the Italian constitution: detention and the resulting arbitrary
expulsion amount to deportation. These are the universal human rights
that the West has been imposing on the world for 500 years now and
which it now barbarically applies in its own home territory, against
the very principles of its constitutions.
Stop expulsions!Immediate closure
of the prison camps! Real equality of rights without racist discrimination!
Revoke racist laws! Documents for everyone! A passport for all European
nomads, the former victims of the Nazis! No quotas and no limits on
3. The symbol of the fourth fourth world war
is one enormous wall. Just as the symbol of the third world war was
the Berlin wall, the symbol of this one is the enormous wall that
starts at the Rio Grande and runs through to Turkey, passing Gibraltar
and then north, leaving out Eastern Europe; it divides Australia and
Japan from the rest of East Asia. This wall is an insult to humanity.
Figures showing the victims along the American border come to over
1,300 from 1993 to 1998; in 1998 alone, the police shot at 89 people.
The estimated number of victims along the borders of Schengen is between
2,000 and 3,000 and there is documentary proof of 1,365 between 1993
and 1998: drowned in the sea or in rivers, blown up by mines, their
craft sunk by navies, shot by the police, hung on the other side of
the borders in the bi-lateral prisons
In only five years, the
American walls and those of Schengen have each caused 5 to 10 times
the number of deaths caused by the Berlin wall in thirty years. The
Schengen police force eans having a central records office, files
on all new arrivals, an extension of the already inhuman criminal
treatment to all migrant travellers, including children. The numbers
of victims on entry are swollen by the victims of expulsion; these
are crimes by the state, premeditated and using a variety of tactics
(death by suffocation with a pillow or a blindfold, for example, or
by anaesthetic, with the new Fascist doctors and nurses as accomplices).
In the USA the Pentagon has provided bullet-proof vehicles, infra-red
equipment and men, and the border police is integrated into the army.
The Italian, Spanish and German states make the same sort of use of
Against borders, action along the borders!
Trials for State murders and those responsible for them!
4. A war waged by criminal and state powers.
The criminalisation of foreigners adds to the power of organised crime.
The strategy of criminalising foreign women and men - a strategy which
the European states are following by means of their mass media and
their unions - is extremely dangerous. Hospitality cannot be associated
with safety, neither can every outsider be regarded as a potential
criminal. The Europe of Schengen is extending police control along
the borders, bringing in armies and
dispatching the navy to threaten and sink approaching ships; police
control and police powers then spread from the borders inland, throughout
the territory; all this is done by creating laws that turn our potential
guests into clandestine immigrants, treating them like criminals.
These are the laws of the Italian state that make every outsider clandestine:
to have a stay permit, you must have a job and to get a job you must
have a stay permit! The European police state is attempting to involve
society in its
general policing plan: more and more people are forced to ask people
with different coloured skins for their documents, to demonstrate
a legal status arbitrarily imposed by the state: at work, in hospitals,
in public offices, in taxis
The German state has punished taxi
drivers for having transported 'sans papiers'. The legal authorities
advocate no tolerance and police repression has increased considerably
in the last few months. The opening of the Corelli prison camp saw
the beginning of evictions, arrests,
insults, beatings, illicit confiscation of documents in Milan. The
new police stop you and ask where you are from. For the state it is
a crime to come from the south or east of the world. And all this
is happening while the Italian mafia groups share out the business
of human transport from Albania and the government refuses to provide
the means for taking control of immigration away from the mafia -
control that makes a profit from everything and everybody. This is
how journeys to the borders, arrival and accommodation in Europe are
managed by criminal organisations and the migrants become goods, in
Stop the mafia boats in the Otranto channel! No human being is
illegal! We are all clandestine!
5. A race war. The only race that exists is the human race. The only
important colour is the colour of your eyes. White people - said Fanon
- invented the race of the non-whites. European policies against immigration
are promoted by the neoliberist left wing, the heirs of European social
democracy, which preached colonialism to give jobs to the working
classes and labourers of Europe and to guide the world towards Progress.
Race itself is economic dominion. The damned of the earth are the
victims of this neoliberist plan. The fourth world war is the last
war of Capital but it is also a racist war. It is based on western
identity and lies about its civilising influence. In actual fact the
foreign worker is the one most at risk. The criminalisation of foreign
workers aims to limit their organisational potential against the concentration
of capital. In any case, Capital itself derives from theft and plundering
in the south of the world and the poorer lands and from exploitation
in the mines and in the fields. Today the arrival of a new labour
force is convenient for industrialists because it is of use in the
social and industrial organisation of work in post-Fordist terms.
The main role of this labour force is as temporary workers in important
economic sectors through
outsourcing to co-operatives and others, servile positions, especially
as home cleaners, sexual services which in great demand in a society
filled with sexual phobias. We mean to counter the race war, a safety
valve for class conflict, by means of social conflict which attacks
profits and their unjust distribution, redistributing riches and creating
a sense of community. Our answer to the war amongst the poor is the
fight for dignity and against the impoverishment of the world.
Let's unite the struggles of immigrants and those of temporary workers!
Universal citizen's income (housing, food, transport, income)!
6.A financial war. Before the first world war, passports did not exist.
Between the first and the second world war, America started to control
immigration. Again, during the third world war, there were greater
obstacles to the movement of capital as opposed to those limiting
the movement of people, than there are today. Neoliberism preaches
free markets but closes and controls the labour market by means of
The relationship between human beings and goods has been turned upside
down: goods move freely, electronic dollars too, but people are stopped!
The markets are free but the labour market is controlled by the armies
of all the rich nations: neoliberism does not allow free trade on
the labour market - it must have control! Nonsense has been made into
common-sense by means of force and propaganda by the mass media. The
developed countries go on announcing recipes for development, grants
and little discounts on debts but refuse to open their borders; moreover
they explode financial bubbles every year in a different country.
And yet multi-ethnic society is destined to take over. This is a fact.
Arms are useless against armed reason.
For the multi-ethnic communities of the third millennium! Equal rights!
Freedom of movement and domicile!
7.A TV war. The control of people by means
of armies and the persuasion of society to accept this Fascist point
of view, where every white citizen has to keep an eye on the non-whites,
depends on the ability of the owners of the mass media to spread lies.
These terrorists spread fear, individualism
and discouragement amongst people - by means of xenophobic campaigns
that speak of the arrival of immigrants in terms of "never-ending
hordes", "invasions", "landings" and other
expressions taken from the vocabulary of warfare. They speak of public
order but they create public fear. Once identified with criminals,
the outsiders are finally shut away and deported through the prison
camps, where there is no trace of the legal guarantees foreseen by
the law but confined to paper; no trace of any right to communicate,
to see a lawyer
Television isolates, does away with communication
and steals time from action and rebellion, giving the illusion of
knowledge. D'Alema, the national-socialist, has found a new way of
providing social support: linking the Lottery to the Rainbow Mission!
We Italians, 50% of whom are migrants, are forgetting our own history,
the insults and the suffering experienced in northern Italy (where
signs used to read: "We do not let rooms to southerners"),
as in the other parts of the world. Television chat is repeated in
the streets and provides the terrain on which right-wing opinions
flourish: "There are no jobs, so why let foreigners in?"
asks the television. The safeguarding of memory is a daily struggle
of truth against lies, here at home, as in Chiapas. The death squads
are border armies supported by television. But we shall not lose our
memories as migrants - at least one of our relatives has been one:
our answer to the fear spread by the mass media is the truth of direct
contact and the reasonableness of people fighting to destroy profit
and the exploitation of the world.
Citizens' consultations in every district!
Universal citizens' income! Universal general strike by people of
A YEAR OF CLANDESTINITY
24 October 1998 day of European action for Semira Adamu. First occupation
of the Corelli concentration camp.
15 November 1998 the Trieste prison camp is closed
12 december 1998 the ferry of universal citizenship
20 December 1998 closure of one of Milan's luxury shopping areas
11 January 1999 second occupation of the Via Corelli prison camp
12 January 1999 television broadcast from inside the prison camp
23 January 1999 European day of action against the camps and in support
of the 'Sans Papiers'
27 March 1999 European demonstration in Paris in support of solidarity
and open borders in Europe
5 June 1999 march with the activists of Caravan '99
we concern ourselves with migration, by making accusations and spreading
counter-information; we have set up an exhibition of photographs and
texts on the victims of the Schengen borders
for some months now we have ensured the constant presence of observers
in the Via Corelli camp, with the delared intention of having it closed,
opposing and revealing the violations of human rights that we haven
we are collaborating with the Leoncavallo Social Centre in its work
with a group of 'sans papiers' guests
we have taken part in the preparatory meetings for the creation of
an independent European network on migrants and plan days of action
on 23 September (anniversary of the death of Semira Adamu) and 15th
October 1999 (European day of action against the fortress Europe and
just suppose it became a world day of action?)
We are invisible and this system feeds on us
We are the ones who allow this city to live, produce, consume.
We are its housewives, unemployed, workers,
its clandestine inhabitants, its students, its temporary workers.
We are the invisible population of this city, those who are responsible
its activities, who fill its jobs, its schools, its supermarkets,
who gather here from outside, who circulate inside it, this city feeds
WE ARE INVISIBLE BUT WE MEAN TO MAKE OURSELVES
VISIBLE AND NOTICEABLE
income, work, unemployment and white overalls
Globalisation: is taking shape more and more
clearly as the progressive integration of markets, currencies and
police forces, constituting an international system for the protection
of the few but widespread interests of the powerful. It involves dissolving
complex social and political
networks in favour of strengthening the sphere of the economy, with
its cannibalistic nature and iron hold over politics and the law without
any need for mediation, legitimisation, consensus, widespread consultation.
War, too, reappears, raising its ugly head as the logical and appropriate
tool of this system of dominion.
Europe: some years ago, we spoke of the Europe
of the bosses, as opposed to the Europe of opposition movements. The
former has rapidly become an all-pervading reality while the latter
is a hypothesis, as distant today as it was then. Yet in spite of
this, in fact because of this, we continue to regard this European
dimension taking shape in front of us, as the area where our political
action takes place and see its limited territory as a place where
we attempt to find the appropriate tools for effective action.
An analysis of this European area reveals the transformations that
have taken place in the world of production:
"Full employment is a fairy-tale that
no-one believes any longer. There are not jobs for everyone
and we are no longer willing to fight each other for them. Housing,
culture, health and all other citizens' rights cannot be guaranteed
exclusively to those who work.
Everyone, those who work and those who do not, produces riches in
exchange for insecurity and the destruction of the environment. To
re-distribute what we produce, it is no longer sufficient to strike
for work contracts; we have to open up the purses of the multinationals.
When we occupy factories or offices, climb onto the roofs or shut
ourselves in the mines, it is to demand a universal citizens' income,
so that people and territories are not obliged to work for lower wages
and in worse conditions.
While we have to pay taxes to buy goods or services of any nature,
immense capitals move from one side of the planet to the other without
paying a single penny. A small sum charged on financial transactions
would be sufficient to give everyone a livelihood. It is possible
to distribute a universal citizens' income,
in the form of money and free access to essential social services,
in order to lead a dignified life."
The social centres and independently organised
social groups also address themselves to the mass of "new generation
workers": self-employed, temporary, so-called atypical categories
(because they do not have contracts as employees), the long-term or
short-term unemployed, as their natural and direct users and activists
and as the main font of resources and skills for their political action.
Their supporters come from this mass.
Post-Fordist labour is characterised by a common language, independently
of the legal form of the work relationship, whether self-employed
or employed on contract. It means flexibility, incorporation, the
end of social buffers and guarantees, exploitation of nowledge, >skills,
aptitudes, both material and virtual.
The suggestion of a universal citizen's income allows the area of
social self-organisation to emerge now and again from its own specific
ground; starting out from giving due attention to this mass of people
at work, to this co-operation that vastly exceeds the limited time
of salaried labour, to end up by building objectives of a universal
from the mountains to the stock exchanges
The strength of the Zapatist rebellion can also be seen in its ability
to interpret the changes taking place in the structure of dominion
and the corresponding, necessary changes in the liberation processes.
strength has been mainly determined by the capacity of the Indios
to transform, through their culture and knowledge, the genetic code
of the first jungle warriors, which approached them with the old dogmas
of the "fire groups".
This interpretation leads to an encouragement to Europeans to "start
the revolution" in the European centres of the international
capitalist, market system and reflect on the great transformations
that are taking place in countries with a high concentration of capital.
It urges us to look carefully at the new categories of production
workers and at the new forms of exploitation and withdrawal of guarantees
and rights to a "dignified life" that these new categories
bring with them.
Careful attention is required to the strategies resulting in the depletion
of the rights won by the traditional categories of workers, and to
the new categories of production workers: exploited to the maximum
by the economic system of the post-Fordist nations, excluded and hidden
from view, invisible in the world of communications and images.
Invisible but essential to the new forms of production and capital
This careful attention must be closely linked to a general reflection
on the necessity of gaining access to forms of real and independent
This essential aspect of the political scene - communication and strategies
for access to communication - make it necessary to examine the forms
of attack that are best suited to this objective. If the balaclava
in the south east of Mexico corresponds to the strategy of the people
of Chiapas for becoming visible in the eyes of the world, the white
overalls are an adaptation of the lesson learnt, and more appropriate
to Europe: we cover our faces to make ourselves visible and so that
we can uncover them when we
have ensured our survival; we cover our bodies in order to emerge
from the limbo of outdated categories in the organisation of production
and to defend the rights of people who no longer accept their position
as central to the production system but marginal in terms of general
THE WHITE OVERALLS
If the struggle aims at achieving visibility, the colour of the fight
is white, and the white garment covers the whole body.
If the objective is a universal citizen's income, our battlegrounds
are those of cash, housing, culture, transport, working conditions,
the right to a dignified life.
The white overalls have occupied places of exploitation and concealment,
directly by means of their physical presence there, to reveal the
decision to ignore those who constitute the real and not the virtual
components of the social system.
At first action was taken in the places where real work is ignored
and sees no guarantee (the stock exchange, the chambers of commerce,
the insurance companies, the business companies, the false co-operatives)
but the strategy of invisibility brings together all those hidden
from view and the battle of the white overalls has extended to the
'sans papiers', to the Kurds, to the civilian victims of the Balkans
The tool is in accordance with the mechanisms of this system but turns
the symbol upside down: propositional, dynamic, based on non-identity,
with a strong symbolic impact and communicative force; strictly independent.
The white overalls, we might say 'by definition', have to be "in
action" directly on the political battleground; they are obliged
to take root in a general context of project-making, for a citizen's
income and, more in general, for the rights of citizenship; they are
deeply bound to act as a powerful means of transversal communication;
their genetic imprinting makes them part of real movements and not
13 June 1997 European day of protest against unemployment and social
25 April 1998 Demonstrations in Milan of the white overalls movement
6 November 1998 National day of the white overalls
1 March 1999 day of the white overalls
1 May 1999 Workers' day festival
White overalls were also worn as a symbol of
invisibility during action and demonstrations on behalf of migrants,
of Zapatists, of Kurds and civilian victims of the Balkans conflict.
The national movement of the white overalls has also obtained free
(or self-reduced) tickets for cinemas, train fares, on public transport;
it has occupied and re-cycled unoccupied buildings (in Rome one of
these buildings has become the national headquarters of the white
In the battle for a citizen's income and, in particular for the right
of free movement of people, we have obtained dozens of "free"
journeys, i.e. without payment or by payment of a symbolic amount,
on public transport, in cities and throughout the country, as well
as in other parts of Europe.
the age of clandestinity
Since its beginnings we have supported the
Zapatist struggle, by raising and sending funds and spreading information
on the situation in Chiapas, as well as organising work brigades to
support the rebel communities.
July - August 1996
Ist intercontinental meeting for humanity
against neoliberism - the brigade that will be responsible for starting
the Association takes part in setting up the structures in Oventic,
13 June 1997
First European day of protest against unemployment and social exclusion
In Amsterdam two thousand companions succeed in crossing Europe, by
occupying two 'border-buster' trains from Milan to the Dutch city,
without tickets to demonstrate against European borders and privileges,
adding to their slogans the demand for a universal citizen's income.
Participation in the IInd intercontinental meeting for humanity against
19 September 1997
Arrival in Italy of representatives of the EZLN for a round of public
meetings and counter-information.
Joint action is organised, with companions in Chiapas participating
in the fights of Italian companions, as with the work brigades in
Chiapas, marching together towards a global rebel movement.
December 1997 - January 1998
We organise and take part in the demonstrations in our country denouncing
the Acteal killings; these were the biggest demonstrations in the
world outside Mexican territory: 10,000 people in Milan and 50,000
people in Rome marched through the cities after having applauded the
occupation of the
Colosseum with the display of protest banners.
25 April 1998:
First demonstration in Milan of the white overalls movement.
During the Liberation Day march the white overalls make up a whole
section of the march and occupy the platform area reserved for the
official speeches, demanding a universal citizen's income.
1-10 May 1998
135 people take part in the project "A bridge flies to Chiapas",
consisting of a delegation of human rights observers, which was subsequently
served with an expulsion order. In spite of the refusal of the federal
government of Mexico, we visited the community of Ricardo Flores Magon
and revealed the conditions in which it lives. On the basis of a referendum,
the community had decided to join the Zapatist movement and abandon
the previous government name of Taniperlas. As a consequence, a military
incursion surrounded and threatened the Zapatist women, preventing
them from joining their menfolk who were fighting for daily survival.
The government was clearly responsible for this, with the support
of para-military groups. After the expulsion order is enforced by
means of a special plane and a police escort, dozens of companions
travel to Strasburg, where they make their way to the headquarters
of the European parliament and are then forcibly removed for having
protested against the initial ratification of the free trade agreement
between Mexico and the European Union.
12 June 1998
In protest at the violation of human rights in Chiapas and in Kurdistan,
a group of white overalls occupies and hangs banners from the most
famous theatre in the world - La Scala opera house in Milan only a
few days after the occupation of the local Milan council chambers.
13-14 June 1998
Organisation of a European meeting of Zapatist support committees
25 June 1998
Action at the "Corriere della Sera" offices: with bloodstains
on their white overalls, the group chains itself to the office entrance,
in protest at the behaviour of the most widely-read Italian newspaper,
which has ignored the massacre by the federal army of Mexico of 6
Indios in San Juan de le Libertad, an independent Zapatist municipality,
Participation and protest at the Istanbul trial of an Italian activist,
Dino Frisullo, accused and sentenced simply for taking part in the
1998 "Nevroz" celebration of the Kurdish new year.
24 October 1998 European day of action for Semira Adamu
A brigade of white overalls appears on the roof of the "temporary
detention centre", the prison camp under construction in Via
Corelli, to reveal its existence.
A march, organised by Ya Basta! and other social centres and associations,
crosses the city in memory of Semira, to demand the closure of the
Italian prison camps.
Throughout Italy the centres are occupied by the white overalls; in
Trieste a group of 3,000 occupants is violently attacked by the police.
6 November 1998 I The national day of the white overalls
Leaflets are distributed and banners hung outside the stock exchange,
inside the local council chambers and at the INPS (National Insurance
Abdullah Ocalan takes refuge in Italy.
Our companions in Rome support the presence of the thousands of Kurds
who gather in the city, demanding together with them a stop to the
genocide of their people.15 November 1998
The Trieste prison camp is closed, following the protest march of
the previous month.
28-29 November 1998
Organisation of the Forum for Chiapas: two days in Venice to discuss
decentralised co-operation and he situation in Chiapas, with associations
representing the government and Italian municipalities.
12 December 1998 The ferry of universal citizenship:
300 people sail to Valona (Vlore) in Albania, to protest against the
abandoning of the Otranto channel to the mafia groups that ferry clandestine
emigrants across in rubber dinghies at the risk of their lives,
and to protest against the sinking of the Albanian ship "Kater
I Rades" by the Italian corvette "Sibilla".
The caravan reveals the many "hidden truths", concealed
by history, by inertia, by indifference, by the sea itself, past and
present state murders; this is why the date of 12th December is chosen
- the date on
which the state organised an explosion which caused 16 casualties
and 84 wounded, attributing it to the extreme left wing, so that it
would have a free hand in promoting an authoritarian and repressive
swing to the right.
20 December 1998
A brigade of white overalls closes off one of the key roads in Milan's
luxury shopping area, on the Sunday of the Christmas shopping orgy,
with the aim of showing what the Via Corelli camp's iron cages are
11 January 1999 On the day of its opening, a small group of white
overalls manages to fool the police once again and climb onto the
roof of the Via Corelli prison camp, delaying its official opening
for a few hours.
12 January 1999 During a television broadcast from inside the prison
camp, shown on one of the most popular television channels in Italy,
a companion manages to get in behind the bars that imprison the 'sans
papiers' and, after a short chase, is caught by members of the police
force and the Red
The incident is covered up and this part of the program from Via Corelli
23 January 1999
European day of action against the prison camps for the 'sans papiers':
a demonstration of 25,000 people, led by a section of white overalls,
with the presence of the Nobel prize-winner, Dario Fo, demands the
closure of the prison camp, supporting the Leoncavallo Social Centre,
accommodation to a group of 'sans papiers'. For the sake of propaganda,
the mayor of Milan orders a series of evictions from disused buildings,
the temporary homes of these women and men, declaring an artificial
"state of emergency to stop crime".
20 February 1999
Demonstrations in Milan and in Rome against the arrest of Abdullah
Ocalan in Kenya three days before and against his deportation to Turkey.
In Rome a group of activists attacks the headquarters of the Turkish
Airlines, forcing its way through police lines which protect the entrance.
Six activists will be arrested on 3rd March in an operation known
as "Girasole" ("Sunflower"); the Association and
the Social Centres of the 'Carta di Milano' defend the action taken
against the airline and the sunflower becomes one of the movement's
6 March 1999
Demonstration against the sale to Turkey of the arms factory Rinaldo
Piaggio in Genoa.
11 March 1999 The national day of the white overalls
Demos are organized in many districts of Milan against the fake co-operatives,
to support the struggles against unmotivated firings. "False
tickets for true rights" are distributed in the form of tickets
activate the stamping machines on board the trams and buses granting
free access, the day of protest ends outside the stock exchange.
13 March 1999
20,000 people demonstrate in Rome, in support of the arrested "sunflowers".
The previous evening a suspicious-looking car was exploded by the
bomb disposal squad following an anonymous telephone call. The car
was parked in the square where the demonstration was to meet and contained
a bomb, connected to a battery by means of electrical wires.
21 March 1999
On the occasion of Nevroz a group of companions, attempting to reach
Djarbaikir to celebrate the Kurdish New Year with the Kurdish people,
are stopped in Istanbul.
Bonds with the Kurdish community lead to the organisation of a festival
at the Leoncavallo Social Centre, for the hundreds of Kurds resident
in northern Italy. In support of the "consulta" on the S.
Andres agreements, organised by the EZLN, an office was also set up
and run in Milan at the
The NATO attacks Yugoslavia and a new Balkans war starts.
27 March 1999
Participation at the demonstration "For solidarity and open borders
in Europe", organised in Paris by a network of collectives that
concern themselves with the situation of migrants.
3,000 people occupy trains that are to take them to Paris: without
documents as a sign of support for freedom of movement regardless
of nationality; without stay permits as a sign of support for freedom
of domicile; without travel documents as a sign of support for a universal
citizen's income regardless of employment and in support of international
relations that do not produce illegal aliens in times of inhuman
peace and refugees in times of humanitarian wars. Amongst the ravellers
is a group of migrants without documents and of women and men we had
met on our journey to Valona.
The independent engine-drivers' union, COMU, guarantees the availability
of trains as far as the French border, as an exception to the strike
declared for the same day. The caravan is stopped at the station of
Ventimiglia following an order from the French Prime Minister, who
announces a total ban on any border crossings without presentation
of documents. The caravan decides to continue on foot, covering 14
kilometres to reach the border, where it is blocked for several hours
in the last tunnel before the
frontier by hundreds of riot police, French soldiers and the Foreign
Legion. At dawn the group is obliged to turn back. For that night,
the French government restricts its interpretation of the Schengen
treaty, forbidding the frontier to be crossed even by citizens of
the European Union without proof of ID.
11 April 1999
Demonstration against the war, at the Aviano air-base: 4,000 people
gather outside the NATO air base and a banner is hung on the gates.
In spite of a completely unjustified tear-gas attack, the area is
not abandoned and retaliations are made by throwing stones and forming
a human chain around the outside of the base.
25 April 1999
Demonstration against the war and for freedom from war, on the day
of our liberation from Nazism and Fascism. 3,000 people, led by a
row of bloodstained white overalls, as a sign of the civilian victims
of the war, extend their official route to include a police headquarters,
where an Italian flag is burned, and the American Consulate, which
becomes a target for fire-crackers and paint.
The planned speech by a union leader, who had been attacked for his
support of the Italian intervention in the Balkan war, is cancelled
"for family reasons".
30 April-4 May
During the latest war in the Balkans, we have continued to take action
in the area, trying to put into practice projects of people's diplomacy,
contemplating a mass caravan that would arrive in Pristina, passing
through Belgrade; when this project proved to be impossible, we joined
the caravan against war which travelled through to Belgrade and Pancevo.
1 May 1999
During the Workers' Day march, the white overalls distribute thousands
of 'false tickets for true rights'.
Arrival in Italy of Caravan '99. 400 white crosses are placed in a
park at the centre of Milan, as a memorial to the children killed
in the Balkans and as a symbol of the civilian victims.
3 June 1999
Demonstration outside the Milan stock exchange. Although access to
the square outside has been refused, the march proceeds and occupies
it, setting up a sit-in.
4 June 1999
Demonstration outside the FAO in Rome.
5 June 1999
A small march, consisting of 400 people, including activists from
Caravan '99, arrives outside the Via Corelli detention centre to demand
the closure of the prison camps.
6 June 1999
A demonstration by 25,000 people outside the NATO air base in Aviano,
marches right round the outside of the base and manages to stop take-off
for the duration of the march. Caravan '99 departs from Italy the
19 June 1999
Participation in the demonstrations in Cologne against the G8 summit.
(to be updated to include year 2000 events)