In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Calabria, in the far south of Italy, is experiencing a major political crisis and finds itself virtually without leadership.
Regional President Jole Santelli, elected in January 2020, died on October 15 from cancer, and the commissioners, sent by the central government to manage the region’s health, all resigned within days. Appointed two years ago by Rome, Saverio Cotticelli, left last week, after the broadcast of an interview in which he multiplied the signs of incompetence and poor knowledge of Covid-19.
A new commissioner, Giuseppe Zucatelli, was appointed the next day and immediately resigned for denying the coronavirus in an old video, which immediately caused a stir. A third (Eugenio Gaudio) was appointed, but he did not accept the post.
Finally, the president of the Regional Council of Calabria, Domenico Tallini, was arrested on November 19 for buying votes and association with the Calabrian mafia, the Ndrangheta, which does not hesitate to infiltrate regional health management.
“The unions have long denounced the criminal omnipresence of the Ndrangheta in the public health system, explains Angelo Sposato, general secretary of the CGIL union. A few years ago, we asked all the Calabrian prefectures to activate anti-mafia access commissions in Calabrian hospitals. Some have led to the dissolution of the Provincial Health Authorities of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria.“
Due to the grip of the mafia, and the poor economic situation of the region, the health system of Calabria is one of the least efficient in Italy. For ten years, it has been supported by the central government, because of the weight of its debt.
It is for this reason that the region has been placed in the red zone, while it has the lowest Covid-19 contamination rate in the country, ditto for hospitalizations and resuscitations.
While the number of hospital beds has decreased by 40% between 2000 and 2013, many feared that the situation would get out of control in the event of an explosion in the number of contaminations.