Update from Casale Monferrato
Tonight at 9 p.m. the town council of Casale Monferrato, led by Mayor Giorgio Demezzi, will rubber-stamp a deal, commonly called the pact with the devil. Despite massive opposition from Italy and abroad, the politicians will accept an €18 million offer from Stephen Schmidheiny, a former asbestos executive on trial in Turin over the epidemic of deaths caused by asbestos contamination.1 Although Schmidheiny set a deadline of December 31, 2011 for the agreement to be finalized, it seems the town council can't wait to comply. In return for pocketing this money, the town will agree not to take part in any future trials or actions against Schmidheiny.
Asbestos victims, campaigners, trade unionists, representatives of labor federations and even church officials are appalled by the underhanded behaviour of Mayor Demezzi and his colleagues. In a statement released by a spokesperson for the social department of the Church Dioceses, it was reported that church authorities, who commented that they are close to those who suffer [in Casale], had asked the Lord to give those who govern the City of Casale the courage and the judgement to pursue the common good, which is never the sum total of individual good or balancing the books, but something greater and more noble.
Prominent organizations which have valiantly supported the victims' struggle over the last thirty years, including the CGIL CISL and UIl Trade Unions, are extremely critical of the undue haste and lack of transparency with which this deal is being progressed. There has been no participatory process regarding the decision of whether or not to accept Schmidheiny's blood money. With euro signs in their eyes, it seems the politicians are prepared to overlook the human tragedy in front of them the escalating asbestos epidemic that is killing so many of Casale Monferrato's inhabitants.
December 16, 2011
1 Kazan-Allen L. Justice for Sale? December 15, 2011