14 de janeiro de 2015

Minha vida sob escolta armada

Durante oito anos, o jornalista Roberto Saviano enfrentou a ameaça constante de morte por expor os segredos da máfia de Nápoles, em seu livro Gomorra. É o preço da vida sob escolta armada demais para um escritor pagar?

Roberto Saviano

The Guardian

Tradução / As a young writer growing up in Caserta, a suburb of Naples, I felt myself getting more and more angry. There was a war going on between two mafia clans for control of the territory, and violence between them spilled into the streets. I wanted to tell the world what this war zone was like: the victims’ families tearing their clothes, the stink of piss from a man who knew he was going to die and couldn’t control his fear, people shot in the street because they looked like the intended victim. I got to know the workers in industries run by the Camorra. I got to know the messengers, the look-outs who worked for the clan. I read court records, news reports, trial transcripts. I pulled their stories together, the stories of my neighbourhood, and published a book called Gomorrah. Something about it touched a nerve. It became an instant bestseller – so many people bought it that the Camorra couldn’t ignore it.

Not long after the book came out in 2006, someone left a leaflet in my mother’s postbox. I was living in Naples, but she was still in Caserta. It showed a photograph of me, with a pistol to my head, and the word “Condemned”. Soon afterwards, I was invited to give an address at a gala to inaugurate the new school year in the town of Casal di Principe, home of the most powerful Camorra clan, with one of the highest murder rates in Italy. I singled out the Camorra bosses from the stage, naming them publicly, which local people had been too intimidated to do. I told them they should leave. The then-speaker of the Italian parliament was there with his bodyguards. After the event, they told me it would be too dangerous to go back to Naples on public transport, so they took me with them. The following day the local paper denounced my intervention as an insult to the Camorra. A few days later, someone followed me on the street in Naples and got on the bus behind me. He said: “You know that they are going to make you pay for what you did in Casale [Casal di Principe], right?”

Less than a month after that, returning to Naples from a literary festival, I was met at the railway station by two carabinieri. As we drove away in an armoured car, they said they had been assigned to me for my protection. Over that winter, the security detail was doubled after rumours emerged from prison that the Camorra was planning to kill me. The mafia boss Salvatore Cantiello, watching a feature about me on the TV news in prison, reportedly said, “Keep talking because soon you won’t be talking ever again.”

For the last eight years, I have travelled everywhere with seven trained bodyguards in two bullet-proof cars. I live in police barracks or anonymous hotel rooms, and rarely spend more than a few nights in the same place. It’s been more than eight years since I took a train, or rode a Vespa, took a stroll or went out for a beer. Everything is scheduled to the minute; nothing is left to chance. Doing anything spontaneous, just because I feel like it, would be ridiculously complicated.

After eight years under armed guard, threats against my life barely make the news. My name is so often associated with the terms death and murder that they hardly register. After all these years under state protection, I almost feel guilty for still being alive.

This life is shit – it’s hard to describe how bad it is. I exist inside four walls, and the only alternative is making public appearances. I’m either at the Nobel academy having a debate on freedom of the press, or I’m inside a windowless room at a police barracks. Light and dark. There is no shade, no in between. Sometimes I look back at the watershed that divides my life before and after Gomorrah. There is a before and after for everything, including friendship. The ones I lost, who drifted away because they found it too hard to stand by me and those I’ve found – hopefully – in the last few years. The places I knew before, and the places I’ve been since. Naples has become off-limits to me, a place I can only visit in my memories. I travel around the world, leaping from country to country as though it were a checker board, doing research for my projects, searching for any tattered remains of freedom.

I was working on this article in New York when I heard the news about Charlie Hebdo. It was intensely painful to me. I didn’t know the magazine’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, but I knew he was living under armed guard, like me. I knew about his situation and the risks he was taking.

With the shooting in Paris, Europe has rediscovered that writing can be dangerous. We had forgotten. Perhaps Italians hadn’t forgotten, at least not those of us who write about the mafia. Ten Italian journalists currently live under police protection after being threatened by the mafia, including Lirio Abbate, whose bodyguards found a bomb under his car after he wrote a book about Cosa Nostra boss Bernardo Provenzano. Freedom of expression is not a right we are granted in perpetuity – if we neglect it, it will wither like a plant you forget to water.

I was struck by something Charbonnier said in 2012: “I’m not afraid of reprisals. I’ve got no children, I haven’t got a wife, I don’t own a car, I’ve got no debts. Pompous as it may sound, I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” For a lot of people, writing is just a job you do, there are no consequences. But for others, it’s not like that.

If Gomorrah had been just another book read by a few thousand people, the Camorra wouldn’t have taken any notice. The reason they objected to it was because I told the truth about organised crime to such a massive audience. Their worst fear is to be under the spotlight. As one penitent former boss has said, the camorristi want to be VIPLs: very important persons at a local level; they want to be famous in their own territory, feared for their military power, but on a national or international level, they want to be anonymous. Having their exploits told to a wider audience than the local press was a major blow because it drew public attention to their illegal affairs.

I am often asked why the Camorra, this great, powerful criminal organisation, is afraid of me. I always try to make it clear: they’re not afraid of me, they’re afraid of my readers.

Minha vida, antes e depois

Antes. Percorrendo incansavelmente os subúrbios até apanhar uma história no ar, daí, uma corrida frenética atravessando a cidade em minha Vespa para chegar primeiro à cena do crime e ver o corpo antes dele ser movido. Para chegar lá antes da família, com seus terríveis lamentos cortantes e angustiados. Dirijo minha Vespa das cenas de crime para os tribunais e as prisões. Eu estava cobrindo a batalha pelo domínio entre os chefes do clã Di Lauro em Secondigliano, e um grupo dissidente conhecido como os espanhóis, porque o líder havia mudado o centro de suas operações para a Espanha, onde vivia na clandestinidade. Era como ser um repórter de guerra: dois ou três assassinatos por dia, ataques incendiários — bombas incendiárias arremessadas às casas das pessoas. Era incrível que algo assim pudesse estar acontecendo no meio da Europa.

Depois. Viver com guarda-costas mudou tudo; é tão complicado tentar trabalhar com uma escolta armada a reboque. Se estou na Itália, tenho que decidir o que vou fazer com três dias de antecedência. Eu vivo nesse lapso temporal de três dias permanentemente, de modo que sempre sinto que estou atrasado para tudo. Seja lá o que eu queira fazer, eu tenho que deixar os guarda-costas saberem, e eles decidem o melhor modo de fazê-lo.

Se eu quiser viajar para o exterior, eu tenho que informar ao departamento de segurança do governo, com semanas, ou até meses de antecedência, exatamente para onde estou indo e como será minha agenda. Onde me hospedarei, os lugares que irei visitar, as pessoas com quem me encontrarei. Então eu tenho que esperar a permissão para viajar — para descobrir se o país que eu quero visitar me considera bem-vindo. Lá chegando, leva alguns dias para estabelecer um relacionamento com a escolta da polícia local. No início, há a sensação de que eu sou um inconveniente, uma carga, um problema administrativo, especialmente quando há um evento público.

Eu não confio mais em ninguém. Temo me afeiçoar a alguém e baixar a minha guarda. Estou sempre à espera que as pessoas me decepcionem. É a paranoia tradicional do prisioneiro.

Há novos amigos, novos lugares, novas rotinas, mas há também um novo Roberto Saviano. As circunstâncias o modificaram; ele é diferente da pessoa que era antes, e dos amigos que tinha então. Provavelmente, uma pessoa pior. Mais retraído, afastado, porque constantemente sob ataque. E mais focado em si mesmo, porque se tornou um símbolo.

Eu realizei o sonho de todo escritor, o sonho que a maioria dos meus colegas não ousa sequer imaginar. Um best-seller internacional. Um público enorme. Mas todo o resto se foi: a chance de uma vida normal, a chance de um relacionamento normal. Minha vida foi envenenada. Eu estou sufocado por mentiras, acusações, difamação, uma porcaria incessante. No final, você fica marcado por isso.

Desde 2006, minha vida tem sido uma busca contínua de algum lugar para morar, um lugar para escrever. Tenho vivido em tantas casas, em tantos quartos diferentes. Não morei em qualquer lugar por mais do que alguns meses durante todo esse tempo. Quartos pequenos, todos eles, alguns minúsculos. E nenhum deles menos que escuro. Eu teria gostado de um quarto maior, um aposento mais iluminado. Eu teria adorado uma varanda, um terraço: eu tenho ansiado por um terraço como antes eu ansiava pela oportunidade de viajar. Mas eu não podia dar palpite, eu não podia tomar uma decisão sobre lugar em que eu moraria. Eu não podia sair por aí procurando casas: dois carros à prova de balas e sete guarda-costas não facilitam as coisas quando se quer passar despercebido. Assim que eu finalmente encontrava algum lugar para morar, assim que as pessoas descobriam onde eu estava vivendo, em que rua, em qual número, era hora de me mudar.

Em Nápoles, era impossível encontrar uma casa. Os carabinieri que eram meus guarda-costas tentaram me ajudar a encontrar um lugar para alugar, por meio de seus contatos. Fácil o bastante, até que a locatária descobriu que era para mim. Assim que me vêem, sai algo do tipo: “Eu não posso, me desculpe, eu tenho filhos”, ou “Eu não posso, acabei de alugar para outra pessoa.” E lá fui eu de volta para o quartel. Eu ainda estou procurando um lugar só para mim.

Enquanto isso, moro nesses espaços monásticos, despojados de tudo, cada movimento controlado.

Como bagagem: um saco para meias, calças, camisetas e calças. Um para camisas e jaquetas. Um com medicamentos, escova de dentes, pasta de dentes e carregadores de celular. Um saco para livros, jornais. E o laptop. É isso aí. Essa é minha casa.

Muito do que tenho escrito nos últimos anos, este artigo incluso, o fiz em quartos de hotel. Esses impessoais e idênticos hotéis, que eu passei a odiar. Esses quartos de hotel são escuros, com janelas que você não pode abrir. Tenho visitado países — às vezes, lugares aos quais eu sempre desejei ir —, e tudo o que vejo é o interior de um quarto de hotel e o horizonte de uma cidade através do vidro escuro de um carro à prova de balas. A maioria dos países não se atreve a me deixar sair para uma caminhada curta, nem mesmo com os guardas armados que deslocaram para cuidar de mim. Eles geralmente me mudam para um novo hotel após uma noite. Quanto mais aparentemente civilizado, calmo e pacífico um lugar, quanto mais longe da máfia e quanto mais seguro eu me sinto lá, mais eles me tratam como uma bomba não detonada que poderia explodir na cara deles a qualquer momento.

Na Itália, particularmente em Nápoles, costumo pernoitar no quartel dos carabinieri, com o cheiro da graxa da bota de meus companheiros de quarto; o comentário barulhento do jogo de futebol na TV, os gemidos quando eles são chamados de volta ao trabalho, ou quando a equipe adversária faz gol; sábado e domingo, dias mortos. Dias passados ​​na barriga vazia de uma baleia. Você pode ouvir os gritos do lado de fora, você pode sentir as pessoas se movendo ao redor, você sabe que está um dia ensolarado, que o verão já começou. Eu me lembro que no começo da minha vida à prova de balas, acordei uma noite no quartel, no escuro, sem reconhecer nada. Eu não tinha ideia de onde eu estava. Desde então, a mesma coisa aconteceu muitas vezes, eu acordo no começo da noite e não sei onde estou. A última vez que estive em Nápoles, fiquei em um quartel que costumava ser um mosteiro. Ele tem um terraço, e dá pra ver o mar de lá de cima. Eu consegui assistir o amanhecer sobre a baía mais bonita do mundo.

Muitas vezes me perguntam se eu me arrependo de ter escrito Gomorra. Normalmente, eu tento dizer a coisa certa. Eu digo: “Como um homem, sim, como um escritor, não”. Mas essa não é a resposta honesta. Na maior parte do tempo em que estou acordado, eu odeio Gomorra. Eu desprezo esse livro. No início, quando eu dizia aos jornalistas que se eu soubesse o que estava vindo eu nunca teria escrito o livro, seus rostos despencavam. Se era a última pergunta na entrevista, eu ia embora com um gosto ruim na boca, sentindo como se eu não tivesse nem começado. Eu percebi que devia ter dito, claro, que faria tudo de novo amanhã. Que eu sacrificaria tudo, tudo de novo. Mas tanto tempo se passou que agora eu sinto que fiz jus ao direito de partilhar os meus arrependimentos, e admitir que sinto falta do tempo em que eu era um homem livre. O que quer que eu tenha planejado para a minha vida, o fato é que eu escrevi Gomorra, e pago por isso todos os dias.

Viver com medo

In March 2008, two years after Gomorrah was published, the mafia escalated its threats against me. In the course of the historic “maxi-trial” known as Spartacus – in which 24 members of the Casalese clan were tried for murder, extortion, corruption of public officials and rigging elections – a lawyer for two of the Camorra bosses read aloud a document that threatened me and another journalist, Rosaria Capacchione, by claiming that it was only because of our reporting that they had been arrested. With this announcement, the clan sent a clear message: if they were found guilty, we would become targets. The two bosses, Antonio Iovine and Francesco Bidognetti, were convicted at the end of the 12-year Spartacus trial. Before it was over, they and their lawyer were charged with issuing threats in the document that was read in court. When this case concluded in November last year, the bosses were acquitted, but their lawyer, Michele Santonastaso, was convicted of making “mafia-style threats”.

I was sitting in the courtroom in Naples when the verdict was delivered. My bodyguards were there, and Rosy’s, as well as our lawyers and the defendants’ legal team. Only the two bosses were not in court, but watching proceedings on video links from prison. Behind us was a bank of television news cameras and journalists. There were very few people I knew in court; when you live like I do everyone gets used to seeing you from afar, or just following your life on social media. To me, the fact that two mafia bosses were acquitted while their lawyer was convicted for mafia-related crime seemed absurd. I was disappointed but nothing surprises me anymore. There were foreign journalists in court but I’m not sure they understood the verdict. I can’t blame them. Santonastaso has since been given 11 years for mafia association, aiding and abetting and perjury but that got barely any coverage at all. The bosses got away with yet another attempt to intimidate journalists into silence, so I felt ambivalent at best. Nonetheless, this was the first conviction of its kind, so it was a historical moment of sorts. I hope this sentence may be the first step towards freedom for myself and other writers, currently living under armed guard, who may eventually be able to reclaim our lives.

People often ask me if I’m afraid the mafia will kill me. “No,” I say, and I stop there. I realise most people won’t believe me, but it’s actually true. It really is. I’m afraid of many things, but dying isn’t one of them. I do sometimes think about the pain, about what it would be like to die painfully. But generally speaking, surprising as it may seem, I don’t think about dying all that much.

There are other things that scare me. More than dying, I’m afraid that my life will never get back to normal. I’m more scared of living my whole life like this than of dying.

There’s another fear, worse than anything else. It’s the fear of being discredited. It’s happened to everyone who has ever been killed for what they believe in. It’s happened to everyone who has reported crimes or told uncomfortable truths. They did it to Don Peppe Diana, the priest who was shot dead in Casal di Principe 1994 for preaching against the mafia and threatening to refuse to give the sacraments to Camorra members. After his death he was subject to a smear campaign accusing him of lewd behaviour and links to the Camorra. Federico Del Prete, the trade unionist murdered at Casal di Principe in 2002, was pilloried with false accusations on the day of his funeral. They did it to Giovanni Falcone, the anti-mafia magistrate killed by Cosa Nostra in 1992; they did it to the journalist Pippo Fava. And somehow, they always find willing ears to hear ill of the dead. The media will have barely started covering my death than the nasty rumours will start. As soon as a kid is killed in a fight, or a priest is stabbed while saying mass, rumours begin to buzz like flies. And the wheel turns. The media circus must keep moving.

I’ll never forget what the ex-husband of murdered Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya said the day after her death: “It’s better like this: better to die than to be discredited. Anna couldn’t have borne it.” I have been told that they had been planning to set her up. Not long before she was killed, they tried to kidnap her. The plan was to drug her, make pornographic films of her, send them around the world, discredit her campaign for freedom of information. This is what drags me down: the fear that I will be discredited somehow, that it’ll creep up on me and I won’t be able to defend myself, or my writing. I feel it’s happening already, that the people who say, “He’s lying, he’s plagiarising, he’s libelling us” will end up having more importance than my own research, my own attempts to investigate how things work. I’m constantly accused of trying to make money out of the mafia, of insulting Naples, of making stuff up. It’s a way of turning down the volume of what I’m saying. “We know all this, it’s already been written about,” that’s one of the things they say. If they said, “None of it’s true,” we would know they’re just mouthpieces for the mafia. But if they say, “We’ve heard it all before,” it’s a more subtle way of undermining me. I’m attacked not just by the Camorra, but also by parts of civil society and even by journalists who are ashamed that they’ve never spoken out against the mafia, and that their silence makes them complicit.

People close to me tell me not to worry, that it’s just envy. Given everything that’s happened, enduring this kind of criticism is not such a terrible price to pay. I was so young when I wrote Gomorrah, I didn’t have time to be corrupted or tainted, to compromise my ideals. To ask for favours and be in someone’s debt. Most people have had to sell themselves at some time, it just happened that I didn’t. And this is unforgivable.

I can’t afford to waste time thinking about the people who want to attack me. If I responded, it would only make things worse. The only thing I can do is focus on my work, on my audience, who – almost more than my armed escort – protect me. That I have an audience guarantees my freedom, in spite of all the restrictions. All in all, mine is a privileged existence. My very public profile exposes me to vicious criticism, but it also protects me.

I think about the huge number of people in Italy who live like me, under state-provided armed guard: 585 of us. People whose names nobody knows face threats alone and unprotected, every day of their lives. I think about people who, even though they were known targets, had no protection. The deaths at Charlie Hebdo should make anyone who isn’t trying to change the world feel guilty. It’s easier to say the satirists brought it on themselves than to look in the mirror and confront the image of our own inertia.

Since I wrote Gomorrah, there’s a greater understanding of the mafia, and in Italy successive governments have been shamed into investing in fighting organised crime. They can’t pretend they don’t know what’s going on any more, and public opinion won’t let them off the hook. If you pushed me, I’d say the perception of the problem has changed radically. This is the power of the non‑fiction novel, the kind of book I’ve tried to write. To tell true stories with the rigour of a journalist and the literary style of a novelist.

There’s a line from Truman Capote I often come back to: “More tears are shed for answered prayers than unanswered ones.” If I have a dream, it’s that words have the power to bring about change. In spite of everything that’s happened to me, my prayer has been answered. But I’ve become someone different than I imagined. This process has been painful, I’ve found it difficult to come to terms with, until I accepted that none of us is in control of our own destiny. We can only choose how to play the role we are given.

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário