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Il documentario integrale
di Fabrizio Gatti
La videoinchiesta sui rapporti tra Italia e Eritrea del dittatore Isaias Afeweki. I profughi imprigionati nel deserto, le aggressioni degli 007 di Asmara agli oppositori in Italia, il silenzio degli studenti scomparsi. Ecco come Berlusconi ha chiuso la questione coloniale

From the Italian article “L’amico Isaias” by Fabrizio Gatti – L’espresso (Translated by Gabriel Guangul)

The list of current business firms in Asmara or those ready to be part of the scramble is in full gear – from the projects of Italcantieri, managed by men in business with Paul Berlusconi (the brother of the Italian Prime Minister), to the entrepreneurs in contact with dummy corporations and casalesi [a mafia organizatipn]; from the aerial reconnaissance firms Oma Sud of Capua in Campania to the producers of cloths and shirts Zambaiti group in Bergamo.

Negotiations are in process in tourist villages built by the slave labor of Eritrean soldiers – from Pier Gianni Prosperini, the centre-right Councilor of Safety and Tourism of Lombardy region elected for National Alliance ("I have been nominated as a colonel of the Eritrean army and that makes me very proud") to the support of the centre-left of Tuscany region; from the multipurpose fishing vessels that come from the shipyards in Ancona to the big construction firms in Ravenna that are tied to the group.

Thanks to the Italian role for facilitating the finance of 122 million Euro that was granted on September 7 by the European Commission for a period of four years – a contribution that, according to some euro-parliamentarians, risks lack of financial control mechanisms in Eritrea. And the amount is not that little for a country that spends 6.3 percent of its meager GDP (the world average is at 2 percent) with 200,000 armed soldiers, 39.77 per cent for every million inhabitants. That is besides the soldiers on civil service. According to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, it’s a statistics that can only be related to North Korea.


The reference of Berlusconi to the closing of the colonial question "not only with Libya" is the first official indication to the new course. And this is despite the uncomfortable and frequent visits by the men of Isaias Afewerki (the President of Eritrea) who are in search of dollars through commercial corruption of every kind. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has accused the Eritrean regime for providing aid to the Islamic extremists with links to Al Qaeda in Somalia. But the connections with Italy are now on a monthly basis. On Friday 18th of September, Franco Frattini, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, received his counterpart Osman Saleh and Yemane Ghebreab, the political advisor of the dictator and the craftsman behind the terror. During the talks on border issues, the delegation of Eritrea expressed its appreciation for the rejection of Eritrean exiles back to Libya that was decided by Interior Minister Roberto Maroni. Operations accompanied by the reduction of an action team of paramedics from Italy and Malta: an order that in August contributed to the death of 73 Eritrean fugitives from 78 left adrift on a barge.


The dictator of Asmara prefers that the exiles remain imprisoned in Libyan jails. It is easier for him to control them from there. According to an Eritrean refugee who landed in Italy a few months ago, the security agents in Libya say that Gaddafi is doing a favor for Afwerki. In those days, a Libyan spy informed the secret service in Eritrea that five migrants of special concern to the Eritrean government have arrived. These were nurses and guards from the concentration camp of EiraEro. This is a prison camp of maximum security where the dictator holds his opponents. The five want (article page 50) to report (in Italy) what they know about the tortured prisoners and those who were killed. The Libyan agents want to send them back to Eritrea and it is not over for them yet.

Yet, on many occasions, Maroni (the minister) has talked about respect of human rights in Tripoli. Similarly, Berlusconi and the minister of legislation Umberto Bossi have, on many occasions, said: "The immigrants have some rights, however in their own house". But the Government of Eritrea does not talk about the rights of the Eritreans in their house and nothing was said about the crackdown on the 18th of September and on the 31st of July when Frattini invited Guiseppe Morabito, Director General for Sub-Saharan African Countries, to Eritrea. In their official statement what Morabito and President Afewerki manufactured in Asmara is [that] "Joseph Morabito has affirmed that Italy considers the Eritrea as fundamental partner...” and that he (Guiseppe Morabito) expressed the desire of Italy to strengthen the economic and commercial relationships."


On the 9th of July, there was another meeting in Milan attended by Yemane Ghebreab, the political adviser and envoy sent by the dictator, Robi Ronza, the founders of the meeting of Community and Liberation of Rimini and "minister" of the foreign affairs of the governor of the Lombardy, Roberto Formigoni.

Do the skies defend the human rights in Eritrea?

"From the interview, a strong interest in Eritrea has emerged to renew the relationships... beginning from economic development and cultural relationships", it announces the agency Lombardy news, "...it will follow by a presentation in Milan on investment prospectives in Eritrea where different enterprises from Lombardy are already operating with good results".

One of these is the textile group of Giancarlo Zambaiti of Leffe in Bergamo - a group that supplies famous brands of fashion and is aimed at the ex-colonies. The cotton mills of Barattolo in Asmara were bought for one dollar from the government and turned into the Za.Er. Sixty million was invested with a public contribution of the Simest, the financial arm of the office of the Economic Development. It manufactures under European standards. Five thousand shirts are produced a day at the expense of local manpower. And a negotiation on more tables to make to welcome the communist dictatorship among the 154 Countries of the Bureau of International Expositions to Paris - the living room of the international commerce the center of the Expo chooses. The representative of the regime reciprocates the favor and votes for Milan 2015 on 31st March of 2008.


In Eritrea, the CFT food technology in Parma, through the Rossi & Catelli, manages two factories for the production of trail of tomato and puree of banana. On the other hand, Italcantieri, a company founded by the family Berlusconi, suspends a project plan to construct one thousand apartments in Asmara. Also this charge is financed with public money of the SIMEST (see box on page. 48). For the construction however, the Eritrean regime chooses more convenient enterprises from South Korea. The whole Eritrean society belongs to the government and therefore, other public money of a million dollars from SIMSET ends up in Hidri Trust Fund capital which is under the safe of the dictatorship, creates Technobrake, a mechanical joint-venture with the Turinese Emmerres srl, Valmichele & Bernard and Consulting in Vicenza. Other Euro money from the Italian public is used for starting the projects between Piccini spa that produces crane and cars for house construction in Perugia and the Wefri Warsay Ikaalo Comilitaristruction, a government initiative that takes the name from an indefinite and forced labor of thousands of young people for military service and forced jobs in the civil service.


The CMC in Ravenna signs for the construction of the Asmara Palace Hotel at a cost of 34.2 million. The project, initiated as a joint-venture between the CMC, the government, Red Sea general import-export, based at Bust Arsizio (Varese) by a 61 year-old Tewelde Tesfamariam who supports the regime in Eritrea and of the new Christian Democracts in Lombardy, is now completed.

According to their website, the mission of CMC is: "To develop the democracy..." Even the CISL spends 508,000 and 991,000 Euro to strengthen the human rights and the role of the labor union in Eritrea but, in reality, the two projects only strengthen the NCEW – the only labor union of regime. The dictatorship in Eritrea controls Eritrean exiles in Italy through a merciless net of informants. The embassy in Rome and the consulate in Milan have the habit on keeping a profile even on Italian citizens: do they result in the list journalists of The Espresso or Corriere della Sera or politicians and entrepreneurs? They know something about Dania Avallone, a 52 year-old marine biologist who endured a two-week arrest and questioning in Eritrea in 2003 as an employee of Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and now an activist with the association called ASPER that works for the human rights of the Eritreans (www.asper-eritrea.com). During a peaceful demonstration on October 26th 2008 in Rome, she was beaten by a member of diplomatic personnel who supports the dictatorship.


When they arrive in Italy, Afewerki, his ministers and the ambassador, they are free to roam around anywhere. For over three years, they have been all over Rome and to the province of Caserta in search of business. The reference is the Consortium coast domizia of Sessa Aurunca. They were the entrepreneurs that accompanied the dictator who was searching for cheap airplanes at the establishment of the Oma Sud to Capua in 2008.

"Giovanni Primo, an Italian-Eritrean builder, has completed two hotels in Massawa and on the islands of Dhalak", explains the president of the consortium, Luigi Mascolo who is 45 years old. He says, "There are small entrepreneurs of the Casertano and the Low Lazio that would like to invest in the tourism in Eritrea. We serve as mediators". Two of the nine entrepreneurs that the consortium constitutes, according to investigations of the Proxy anti-mafia in Naples, have had contacts with emissaries of casalesi. "The matter has been filed. We are against the racket", says the president. Among the new projects on the Red Sea, to the south of Massawa, the hotel of Ghelalo is for now a cathedral in the desert. It was used to imprison repatriated Eritreans from Libya in 2004 with their flights paid from Italy. "Ghelalo has been built by 450 Eritrean prisoners under the hot sun from the dawn to dusk. We were beaten like donkeys,” says a survivor who is now in Europe. He goes on, "We had little bread and water. We felt like we were buried alive".

But the competition to Sharm el Sheik of Afewerki and his Italian friends is about to begin. Afronine, a travel agency in the Port of Venice in Milan, really sells a holiday destination for New Year's Eve.