An exemplary migrant-integration project.
Paint Wall at VS GALLERY (Melbourne, Australia) www.vsgallery.com.au
This wall painting rapresents the hug between Domenico Lucano Mayor of Riace (a littel village in Calabria, southern Italy), and Aboubakar Soumahoro, memebr of the Coordination of Agricultural Workers. Lucano became mayor in 2004, maintaining the role since then. He gained worldwide attention through his innovative approach to dealing with refugees, in the context of the European migrant crisis. As mayor of Riace, he allowed 450 refugees to settle among the 2000 inhabitants of the village, revitalising it and preventing the closure of the local school. Lucano, came second runner-up in the 2010 World Mayor competition (the winner Marcelo Ebrard was the Mayor of Mexico City, which has about nine million inhabitants). The Mayor of Riace has 40th in “Fortune Magazine” the world’s 50 best leaders for the work in rejuvenating the once-dwindling town by recognizing the potential of immigrants in a way that could prove a model for Europe’s refugees crisis. He was the only Italian on the Fortune’s list. For decades emigration drained life from Riace. Lucano, offered them Riace’s abandoned apartments along with job training. “Eighteen years on, Mayor Lucano is hailed for saving the town, whose population now includes migrants from 20-some nations, and rejuvenating its economy. Though his pro-refugee stance has pitted him against the mafia and the state, Lucan’s model is being studied and adopted as Europe’s refugee crisis crests,” Fortune said. Riace previously was only known for the two male bronzes that were fished out of the sea in 1972 and were celebrated as supreme achievements in the Greek art as the Riace Bronzes. The award-winning German director Wim Wenders has dedicated a documentary entitled “Il Volo”, shot in 2009, to the reception experience of Riace. “The real miracle is in Calabria, where for the first time I have really seen a better world,’ said Wenders, recounting his experience among the Riace refugees during the shooting. ‘I saw a country capable of resolving, through the reception, not so much the problem of refugees, but its own problem: that of continuing to exist, of not dying because of depopulation and immigration. And I wanted to tell this story in a film that has actors as the real protagonists”. The mayor of Riace has developed a new strategy to separate the collection of recycling trash which is realized with donkeys. Every day two ecological operators go with the animals on the streets of the city, too narrow for cars, to collect the garbage bags. The idea has been very successful as well as being a tourist attraction, although in southern Italy the collection is only 18% while in the rest of the country is 35%. Mimmo Lucano was arrested on the 3rd of October, 2018 and placed under house arrest by the Italian government for having entrusted the contract for the transport and collection of waste to two small local coopertives, and also for the facilitation of illegal immigration. Lucano himself said: “They only want to destroy us, and now we have a real cross-sectional action against us, but our lawyers are already preparing an appeal against the decision of the Viminale”. The mayor of Riace, Domenico Lucano, says this in relation to the Ministry of the Interior’s circular. “I wonder how it is possible to think of destroying in this way the “Riace model”, described by innumerable personalities, politicians, intellectuals, artists, as an extraordinary experience. You can not erase a simply extraordinary story that has aroused the interest and appreciation of the whole world. The state continues incredibly to give us on. “My bitterness is immense”, added Lucano.