March 30, 2011

Lampedusa's Newest Resident

The tiny island of Lampedusa--Italy's southernmost point--has officially replaced Ruby Rubacuori in the Italian headlines of late. Because it is technically closer to Tunisian shores than to Italian ones, over the years the island has become the primary port of entry for North African immigrants seeking to enter Italy illegally. With the recent unrest and uprisings in Tunisia and Libya, immigrants have been flooding into Lampedusa while local residents rally against the mass arrivals. 

Italy's position in unenviable--there are nearly 5,000 miles of coastline to protect and secure, and few resources with which to do it (or perhaps little organization with which to manage the resources--just saying). The rest of Europe is fed up with the boot since a significant number of the immigrants who make their way to France, Germany, Spain and the UK have come in through Italy's poorly secured "porous" borders. Italy continues to ask for funds; the EU continues to ignore the request; other EU countries come down hard on Italy; Italy gets offended and Berlusconi is propelled into action.

Today, in fact, Italy's illustrious premier took a bunga bunga break to personally visit Lampedusa, where in typical Berlusca fashion he announced that the immigrants would be transferred off the island in "48-60 hours, max". (I personally enjoyed the 60 hours figure; it's so much more original than the standard 72.)

However, the most entertaining moment of the speech came when he joyfully confided in the crowd of locals gathered at his feet that he had just purchased a house on the island so that he could take a more direct interest in the goings-on down yonder. "I went on the Internet and bought a house in Cala Francese," Berlusca said, "It's called The Two Palms. I, too, will be a Lampedusan."

Immigration crisis averted. Grazie, Silvio!

Cala Francese, Lampedusa

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