Why don’t we have yet the final novel about the events in Genoa in 2001, I wondered. Because Genoa 2001 is not over yet, I had to answer to myself, because we live inside the story of abuse which has become the norm in post-democracy.
Well, when we will finally be able to put pen to paper and write the the final novel, when we will put it in first person and keep it in first person, we will become the first person.
FABRIZIO FERRAZZI, 51 years old, arrived to Genoa on Friday, July 20th, 2001. He lives in La Spezia, earned a degree in philosophy at the University of Pisa, and is a teacher lent to the countryside where he lives in the family farm. There, he finds time for his passion, history and Polish literature.
Since his first trip to Krakow in the early eighties, that unfortunate country has become his adoptive country. Those were the days when Solidarnosc was making a breach and found help in the committee for defense of the workers.
Following the call identity of Catholic culture, in 1983 Fabrizio took part in early leafleting and impressive events during the visit of Papa Wojtyla. And, in our novel, he came across the verses of the romantic poet and playwright Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (1798-1855):
My genuine, deep, tears descended on my idyllic and ethereal childhood, on the frivolous and immodest youth, about my season as man, the age of defeats. My genuine, deep, tears came down.
Mickiewicz’ verses conquered Fabrizio to the point that he identified himself with the poet, during his own arrest story in Genoa on Friday, July 20th, 2001.
This is what happened.
Fabrizio had participated in the peaceful demonstration in Piazza Paolo da Novi, organized by Beati costruttori di pace (Blessed are the peacemakers). He was run over by the first police officers. Then, he met a woman, evidently a fervent religious follower, who, among the tear gas canisters shot by the police and the stones thrown by the anarchists, repeated over and over that God does not want all this. Fabrizio went towards her, holding a big book with which he had tried to defend himself from the batons held by the police.
HUNTED AND RECORDED on the phone, he had reacted by singing the Marseillaise, the song of the French revolutionaries, as unpopular in Jaruzelski’s Poland as in Italy’s Mussolini.
The Carabinieri van had stopped at the Fiera del Levante barracks, where Fabrizio was held from two in the afternoon until nine o’clock at night. He stood up, with dried blood over his face, with another twenty detained.
They all were beaten with batons and kicked and insulted by the prison officers of the Mobile Operating Group (acronym in Italian Gom).
Then, the policemen were accused of having massacred unarmed, naked and handcuffed prisoners, kicking them in the mouths, beating them while wearing padded gloves, and urinating on prisoners stretched out on the ground.
But there was more.
THE HORROR continued with the tortures in Bolzaneto prison barracks where the detainees were transferred around nine o’clock that night.
The coroner reported the following lesions: broken ribs, head injuries, lacerations, bruises, and swellings.
Each detainee was taken by force into the hallway, and then into the registration office. A path that included crossing the roundabout where the victims were dragged by the hair and beaten by agents dressed in amphibian camouflage fatigues. They even hit those who fell on the ground.
On Saturday afternoon, Fabrizio was transferred to the Alessandria jail, from which he was released on Monday.
IF DURING THE YEARS since his ordeal, Fabrizio had learned to tolerate the tachycardia or sudden panic attacks, a legacy of thirty hours of kidnapping, he still did not tolerate the lack of justice.
Family and friends learned the facts from newspapers and the court documents, because Fabrizio never talked on the subject and, when asked about it, he preferred to change the subject.
He’d rather digress and start speaking of Adam Mickiewicz, enjoy sharing quotes in Polish or Russian, or discuss the importance of the Konrad Wallenrod poem, or the play Dziady. In this play, earthly sufferings are described; the martyrdom of Poland is compared to passion of the Christ, and, in the last part, the ghost of a suicide, consumed by a passion that led him to death.
DURING THE MOST PAINFUL TIMES, in the long months of hospitalization needed to treat the wounds sustained in Genoa, Ferrazzi entrusted his narrative to Mickiewicz’ texts. That story in the Bolzaneto barracks becomes the prison and backdrop to those poems, the abattoir where the Russian invaders torture Polish prisoners.
And the Ferrazzi of our novel tells us about convicted boys, in handcuffs, the mark of torture on the faces, the disappointment for not being able to help people understand the seriousness of what happened, the failure to make the drama shared by the community, the fear that this sacrifice did not undermine the advance of an anti-democratic power.
He tells of the awakening that started with those months of 2001, ad made him an activist almost full-time.
In the novel, the incidents he lived in Genoa are not described as a personal matter but as an event that reveals profound truths confirming that the brutality and the deferral of the constitutional rights in 2001 were not a coincidence but part of the anti-democratic degeneration.
The Ferrazzi of our novel does not believe in the role of victim. He believes in the role of witness, a role exercised by a militant Catholic. The Ferrazzi of the novel even says it is hard to deny that we protesters in those Genoa days were the reason why we were beaten, tortured, killed.
Fabrizio, who was ill before Genoa, had surgery of the bowels, and the torture suffered in Genoa has left an indelible mark.
HE UNDERWENT REPEATED SURGERIES and he continued studying, writing, translating, albeit with difficulty. He denounced his torturers at hearings before the trial, he is an activist in the movement against the war in Afghanistan. But his health deteriorates.
He was then a ghost, eaten in body and soul. In December 2011, he decided to end it, consumed by passion like the protagonist of the Mickiewicz’ play.
Genoa represents a moment of transition. There is a period “before Genoa,” the culmination of the “anti-globalization” movement, which proved to be the most confident in calling for a globalization of rights and denounce the risks determined by the neoliberal model.
And there is a time “after Genoa” in which those risks have materialized in the current crisis.
THE FINANCIAL COLLAPSE of 2008, the anger of the lower classes and the failure of the reformist left that has not been able to work upon the claims to the movement, and he allowed the themes on which he was born – the critique of capitalism and the growing inequalities- become nourishment of populism, all these facts indicate the protesters in Genoa were right.
Because when interpreted fifteen years later, the reasons the movement was concerned for the future are no different from the current ones: unbridled neoliberalism, domination of finance over the economy, impoverishment of the middle classes, based on the unsustainability of debt policies, polarization of the distribution wealth, global warming, increasing of the private power over the public, of the multinationals over the states, the endemic spread of xenophobia and racism, to say nothing of the “just wars” that were not just and created the physical space for Islamist terrorism.
The new bipolar system in industrialized countries is no longer between the left and right, but between up and down, open and closed.
This is the result of the rash treatment of protesters in Genoa and all the antagonists of the financial dictatorship.
That’s why we do not have yet the final novel about the events in Genoa in 2001. Because Genoa 2001 is not over yet.