Cesena, November 5th, 2008. Anton Caldarar is a  young Roma father.

He came to Italy eight years ago to escape a life of poverty and marginalization in Romania. Italy, however, has reserved for him new forms of social exclusion and he is forced to beg on the streets to survive. His wife suffers from a serious neurological disorder.

Anton and his family are now living in Pesaro in an abandoned, derelict building without any heating or running water. The social services and local institutions, who are well aware of their situation, have chosen to ignore it: “We don’t want these “fish” in our waters,” the councillor of the social services recently declared.

On the day of Barack Obama’s triumph, the first black President of the United States, Anton was feeling very proud. He was proud of being a Rom and was convinced that if a black man had succeeded in being elected to the White House, then maybe a “gypsy” too could contribute to changing society.

Anton stood in Cesana station, smiling to himself. When some policemen approached him and told him in a threatening and offensive tone of voice to move along, the boy did not bow his head: “No, I’m not leaving the station, because I have to buy a ticket and wait for the train that will take me home”.

The policemen listened to his words and were stunned: “How dare that “gypsy” talk to them that way? How dare he contradict them, that little dark-skinned man? Didn’t he know what happened to Roma who refuse to obey men in uniform? Like Rosa Parks (who over fifty years ago on a bus travelling through the streets of Montgomery, Alabama, said “no” to racial discrimination and refused to give up her seat reserved for white people) Anton too said “no” to the persecutors of his people.

While the handcuffs were being secured around his wrists and punches and kicks rained down on his body, Anton felt like his idol Barack Obama: a man who refused to give up his dream. “The road is long and an uphill one. But we will get there.”

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Anton Caldarar, like Rosa Parks,

said “no” to racial hatred

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The newspapers have described her the “little Anne Frank of the Roma people”. The Covacius abandoned Arad in Romania to flee from poverty and discrimination. But in Italy they have been subjected to the devastating effects...



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