I can only tell you about my experience with them.
Ya Basta is an association of several local ya basta groups in Italy. Most of them organise around the self managed social centres. The Leonkavallo is the largest autonomous centre in Italy. It's huge and all self managed. It's incredible. Ya Basta are definitely not authoritarian, but they are not anarchists either.They have a strong degree of self management and consensus decision making about the direction of what they do. They are far away from trotskists or so.
They poped up in response to the Zapatist uprising and the Ya Basta association was created after the Encuentro in Chiapas in 96. Ya Basta did both solidarity work with Chiapas and tried to fight neoliberalism locally. Ya Basta is one more driving force in a diverse panorama of activists in Italy. They contributed for example in the shaping of the Tutte Bianches as a form of action (the white overalls which i am sure you know of). The activsts in ya basta overlap with the activists in the social centres. I know some activists who work together with Ya Basta but do not consider themselves as ya basta.
I am sending you an attached file called "the age of clandestinity" which is a document they produced reflecting their thoughts.
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 Lombardia Via Watteau 7 20125 Milano (Italia) phone: (39) 02.67.05.474 fax: (39) 02.67.05.621 e-mail: email@example.com
We 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 justice,
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 Jos?, with the faces of all those, in all worlds, who want to make a place for everyone.
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 y 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 support movements.
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" movement.
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 ultinationals, 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 targets. 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 national network.
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.
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 own ears.
We have seen them go on fighting.
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 ñ 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 them. 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 co-operation, projects. Routes, projects. Routes for grassroots diplomacy
>From the very beginning the spread of information on the situation and dispatch of funds and work brigades.
September 1997 saw the beginning of fund-raising for a project to build a small, environment-friendly electricity turbine at La Realidad, Aguascalientes I.
>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 rebel 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 financing.
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.
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 prison 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.
3. The symbol of the 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 prisonsÖIn 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 their armies.
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 taxisÖThe 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 all senses.
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.
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 its armies. 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.
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 lawyerÖTelevision 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.
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 for its activities, who fill its jobs, its schools, its supermarkets, its streets, who gather here from outside, who circulate inside it, this city feeds on us
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 nature.
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. This 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 accumulation.
This careful attention must be closely linked to a general reflection on the necessity of gaining access to forms of real and independent social dynamics.
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 visibility.
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 conflict.
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 of imitations.
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 overalls).
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.
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, Aguascalientes II.
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.
August 1997 Participation in the IInd intercontinental meeting for humanity against neoliberism
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 in Milan.
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,
September 1998 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 Offices.).
November 1998 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 all about.
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 Cross. The incident is covered up and this part of the program from Via Corelli is suspended.
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, which gives 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 symbols.
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 which 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 Leoncavallo centre.
23 March 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'.
June 1999 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 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 following day.
19 June 1999 Participation in the demonstrations in Cologne against the G8 summit