Skip to content

The “Ships of Poison”

October 13, 2013

ENGLISH: Many people have asked me what is the meaning of my painting “Eden V” and why I gave it that name. I should start by saying that I believe that painting is a form of art that has a big capacity to draw attention on hot topics and stimulate reflection, at the same time that it carries out an aesthetic quest. Therefore, with the intention to give my small contribution to report a serious problem that Italian institutions have silenced and continue doing so, but which profoundly affects people living in certain areas of Italy, I made this painting. It is inspired by the name of the cargo ship “Eden V”, stranded in a beach near Lesina, in the National Park of Gargano, where I originally come from.

The relict of the Eden V stranded in the beach of Lesina

The story of the Eden V is surrounded by mistery and is part of the secrets of state, together with many other “ships of poison” sunken especially in South Italy. In a stormy night in 1988 this ship went aground, it had no cargo nor documents on board about previous travels. Along the coast lie 123 metal drums containing a smelly substance, but the number of drums could be much bigger in the depth of the sea in that area, although it is not possible to say if it comes from the Eden V or from other ships that have sunken or just thrown their cargo in the same sea. Near the ship there are also two tons of radioactive waste material which exceeds 16 times the established tolerable limit for the human. The Eden V is only one of between 39 and 55 sunken ships in the south Italian seas, with highly contaminating waste. At the origin of these dangerous waste are governments, secret services and international societies that needed to get rid of toxic, chemical or nuclear waste. They found in the local mafias the perfect allied for carrying out the sinking of the ships operations in exchange for high sums of money. The mafias used ships that were already too old and that would have been very expensive to scrap, so they earned money on that operation and on the sinking of dangerous waste. In some cases, they even earned from ensurance companies, claiming that the sinking had occurred by accident. However some sinking was highly secret and still today the Italian state has not backed any operation of investigation to ascertain the presence of some reported relicts full of nuclear waste like the Cunsky or the Rigel, even after the declaration of informers previously belonging to the mafia, that participated directly in the sinking operations, and ignoring the symptoms of an exceptionally high percentage of tumours and malformations in the new-borns in those particular areas. Investigators and uncomfortable witnesses are intimidated or killed, like the captain Natale De Grazia, poisoned in 1995 just before he found the missed link to conclude a big investigation that would have caused an international scandal, involving many countries (De Grazia’s death was reported to be a simple heart stroke, at only 38 years old, until few months ago his body was analysed and traces of poison were found in it). De Grazia’s investigation was following the line opened by Ilaria Alpi, a courageous Italian journalist operating in Somalia, who uncovered, just before she and her colleague Miran Hrovatin were executed in 1994, the role of the Italian government Democrazia Cristiana, the Army and the Italian and foreign secret services in the illegal trade of weapons of rich countries with poor countries in exchange for nuclear waste.

Containers full of dangerous waste left in the port of Beirut.

Containers full of dangerous waste left in the port of Beirut.

Returning to our ship Eden V, it was found out that it came from Beirut, capital city of Lebanon, another country affected by civil war. The ship there figured under a different name. In the port of Beirut, by fraudolent means and falsifying the documents, many dangerous drums and containers were unloaded and in only few days they caused many intoxications in the local population. The Italian government, to avoid the danger of an attack to the Italian embassy sent a committee to intervene and get rid of the containers. Together with the infamous Jolly Rosso, the official ship of the Italian state with the duty to bring back the containers, and which afterwards was misteriously found stranded in Amantea, south Italy, without cargo, there were several non-official ships, “phantom” ships, like the Eden V, then called with another name. Alerted by the danger, the Greeks intensified the controls around their coast and intercepted a conversation between two captains of different ships about where it would have been better to dump their cargo in the sea, they were near Chipre. The Eden V got stranded in the low waters of Lesina freed from its most dangerous cargo (only a few packs full of cigarettes were found aboard). Its Libanese captain and most part of its small crew had criminal records for drugs and arms trafficking. They were completely out of the route that they declared they were following, towards Croatia, but no one has been taken to court.

In all the cases of ships of poison the magistrature has never found the backing of the parliament for a serious investigation and they have been archived with misleading conclusions and no culpables, or for expiration of the times for taking legal actions. In the meanwhile, in South Italy there is a percentage of tumours over 50% higher than in north Italy, although it is an environment much less polluted and industrialised.

The Jolly Rosso, stranded in Amantea, Calabria, south-west Italy. The suspect is that the sinking did not work and it arrived to the coast. A cave full of nuclear waste and dangerous chemicals has been located very close to the beach.

The Jolly Rosso, stranded in Amantea, Calabria, south-west Italy. The suspect is that the sinking did not work and it arrived to the coast. A cave full of nuclear waste and dangerous chemicals has been located very close to the beach.

 

 

ESPAÑOL: Varias personas me han preguntado qué significado tiene mi cuadro “Eden V” y porque se llama así. Tengo que empezar diciendo que yo creo que la pintura es una forma de arte que tiene una gran capacidad de poner en la mesa temas candentes y estimular a la reflexión, y hacerlo al mismo tiempo que se realiza como instrumento de búsqueda estética. Por eso, con la intención de dar mi pequeño contributo para denunciar un grave problema que en Italia las instituciones han silenciado y siguen haciéndolo, y que sin embargo toca de muy cerca a sus habitantes, pinté este cuadro, inspirado por el nombre del barco “Eden V”, encallado en una playa de Lesina, en el Parque Nacional del Gargano, zona de la cual provengo.

La historia del Eden V está envuelta en el misterio y forma parte de los secretos de estado, junto a otras muchas “navi dei veleni” (naves de los venenos), como las llaman en Italia, hundidas en las profundidades del mar especialmente en el sur de Italia. En 1988 esta nave se arenó tras un temporal, estaba vacía y sin documentos de bordo. A lo largo de la playa yacen 123 barriles de una substancia maloliente, pero podría haber muchos más en las profundidades del mar, aunque nunca se podrá acertar si han sido el cargo de la Eden V o de otras naves que también han hundido en la misma zona sus cargos de venenos. Cerca de la nave hay también dos toneladas de residuos radioactivos que superan 16 veces el límite tolerable establecido por el ser humano.

map of sunken ships of poisoin, taken from www.infondoalmar.info

map of sunken ships of poisoin, taken from http://www.infondoalmar.info

La Eden V es solamente una de entre 39 y 55 naves hundidas en los mares de Italia, portadoras de cargos altamente contaminantes.  Al origen de esos residuos peligrosos están gobiernos y sociedades internacionales que necesitaban deshacerse de residuos tóxicos, químicos o nucleares, y se servían del servicio de organizaciones mafiosas, las cuales ganaban mucho dinero en la operación. Las mafias utilizaban naves que habían llegado ya al final de su ciclo de vida útil y que hubiera resultado caro desguazar, así que hundiéndolas resolvían ese problema, además de ganar dinero haciendo desaparecer con las naves los residuos tóxicos de las industrias y a veces cobraban incluso el seguro, declarando que el hundimiento había ocurrido por accidente. De todos modos, el hundimiento de algunas naves era altamente secreto y todavía, al día de hoy, el estado no ha querido investigar “hasta el fondo” la presencia denunciada de algunos de esos relitos cargados de escorias nucleares, no obstante haya muchos testigos, algunos arrepentidos de la mafia que participaron directamente en la operación de hundimiento, y un porcentaje muy alto de tumores y malformaciones fetales en las zonas en las cuales se han hundido. Investigadores y testigos incómodos son sometidos a amenazas o a atentados, como el omicidio del capitán Natale de Grazia en 1995 justo antes de culminar una investigación de gran envergadura que hubiera imputado instituciones nacionales e internacionales y causado mucho revuelo (se declaró que su muerte se atribuía a un ataque de corazón, hasta que la insistencia de la familia llevó a la riesumación de su cuerpo, entonces se encontraron rastros de veneno). El trabajo de De Grazia seguía en las líneas abiertas por Ilaria Alpi, una valiente periodista que operaba en Somalia y que sacó a la luz, antes de ser asesinada en 1994 junto con su cámara Miran Hrovatin, el papel del gobierno de Democrazia Cristiana, del ejército y de los servicios secretos italianos y extranjeros en el tráfico de armas con los países pobres a cambio del derecho a descargar allí su basura nuclear. En Somalia ha habido miles de muertos y un altísimo número de enfermedades y deformedades en los niños en las zonas afectadas.

Some of the sketches for my painting "Eden V".

Some of the sketches for my painting “Eden V”.

Volviendo a nuestra nave Eden V, se ha sabido que provenía de Beirut, en Líbano, otro país que entonces estaba sumido en una guerra civil, y donde la nave figuraba bajo otro nombre. En Beirut, de manera fraudolenta y falsificando papeles, habían sido descargados miles de contenedores y barriles peligrosos que en pocos días provocaron muchas intoxicacaciones en la población local. El govierno italiano, para evitar la amenaza de un atentado a la embajada italiana, envió una comisión para intervenir y deshacerse de los contenedores. Junto con la tristemente célebre Jolly Rosso, una de las naves oficiales del estado italiano encargadas de rempatriar los contenedores y también misteriosamente arenada en 1990 sin cargo, había varias otras naves no oficiales, y algunas “fantasma”, como la Eden V, la cual tenía en aquel entonces otro nombre.

"Eden V", oil on linen, 80x120cm, 2013

“Eden V”, oil on linen, 80x120cm, 2013

Alertados por el peligro, los griegos intensificaron el control de sus costas e interceptaron una conversación entre dos capitanes de distintos barcos que discutían sobre dónde era mejor descargar el cargo en el mar, cerca de Chipre. La Eden V llegó a arenarse, despojada de su cargo, en la maravillosa reserva del Parque Nacional del Gargano conducida por un capitán libanés y algunos miembros de equipaje del mismo país, varios de ellos previamente implicados en tráfico de armas y de drogas. Estaban completamente fuera de la ruta que declararon estar siguiendo, hacia Croacia, pero nunca se llegó a procesar a nadie. En todos los casos de hundimientos de las naves de venenos la magistratura nunca ha tenido el apoyo del parlamento para investigar, y no es difícil intuir las razones. Mientras tanto, en el sur de Italia hay un porcentaje de tumores del 50% más alto que en el norte de Italia, no obstante no haya industrias y se viva mucho más cerca de la naturaleza.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jason Clarke permalink
    October 14, 2013 11:54

    what a fantastic article and read thank you

  2. October 14, 2013 18:55

    Many thanks for reading it Jason, I’m glad that an article that goes beyond the area of the aesthetics is read with the same attention in a blog about painting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: