Correspondent in Rome
Rome does not know how to bury its dead, which has created a unprecedented scandal. For months the coffins have been crammed into cemetery warehouses. There are already ‘parked’ some 2,000 coffins on shelves, waiting for cremation or burial. Burying loved ones has become an odyssey for thousands of families, due to the increase in the number of deaths from Covid and the mismanagement of Roman cemeteries by the city council of the Italian capital, guided by Virgina Raggi, of the Movement 5 stars. The city council washes its hands, stating that the cemetery services are administered by AMA (the municipal agency also in charge of cleaning and garbage collection in the capital). But the municipality and its councilor are accused of not having done anything to ensure compliance of the service contract with AMA. Neither the crematorium ovens are sufficient nor are there the necessary personnel to bury. In no other Italian city – not even the Lombards, among the worst affected in Italy by the virus – has this collapse occurred.
The drama of a father
The drama of the Democratic Party deputy, Andrea Romano, who has failed to give a dignified burial to his 24-year-old son, who died two months ago, cries out to heaven. Deputy Romano denounced this Thursday in a tweet addressed to Mayor Raggi: «Today 2 months have passed since my son Darío is no longer with his mother, with his brothers, with me. Two months that we cannot bury him: AMA does not give burial times worthy of a civilized city. In fact, there is no time. Your shame Virginia Raggi will never be great enough. Deputy Andrea Romano has told his closest friends and colleagues that two months ago “Dario left serenely; our son had a serious illness since childhood … ». They could not fulfill the last wish of the family: greet Darío with a restricted funeral and then bury him. Andrea Romano is from Livorno (Tuscany), but leads a life in Rome: «Darío lived here, his mother is from here, so we thought it was fair to let him rest in the city where he grew up. We knew there were difficulties, but not to this point. It is a pain that is added to the pain and that leads the father to exclaim: “If I could bury it with my hands, I would!” But Romano will have to wait, not knowing how long.
Al Corriere explained the motivations that led him to make his case public: «I have been waiting for two months with Costanza, Darío’s mother, to to be able to say goodbye to our son, but we cannot even access the deposit of the Prima Porta cemetery, where his ashes are piled up – says Romano -. I was very reluctant, given my political position, to go public with the story. But then I decided to denounce this drama, because it is the same one that hundreds of Roman families are experiencing ». The family already has a grave in which to bury Dario, but it is useless: “It is not enough, because AMA, the municipal company that also takes care of cemeteries, cannot even organize the burial. And the emergence of Covid is only an instrumentalization to justify itself.
Relatives call Roman funeral homes every day, without receive a word that gives them certainty. Numerous families, exasperated and outraged by the paralysis of the AMA, have called up the Carabineros weapon. Some have gone further. Last week, a businessman who manages billboards in Rome placed 250 posters with this phrase: “Excuse mamma if I can’t bury you.” The 85-year-old mother died in March. Even funeral homes marched by putting these words on their cars: “Excuse us, AMA doesn’t tell us when we can bury your loved ones.” The posters were aimed precisely at families who do not receive concrete answers from either the city council or AMA.
Deputy Andrea Romano has talked about incredible stories of families who ask the same question: “How is it possible that a mayor and a local administration are not even able to get relatives to bury their loved ones, is there something more serious?” “It is not a question of asking for a favor or a privilege,” concludes Deputy Andrea Romano. This is heartbreaking. I do not want to exploit this story for political purposes, but the mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi must apologize for all this, it would already be a beginning.
The mayor does not assume responsibility
After a few hours, when Romano’s tweet had a great national repercussion, the reaction of Mayor Raggi arrived, with a answer in which he does not assume any responsibility: «What happened to Andrea Romano’s family and other families is unforgivable. I am close to all of them. I can only imagine the agony and terrible pain they are experiencing. I called AMA who assured me that he was working on a solution to give answers to citizens at this time of emergency due to coronavirus.
There is no possible justification. A community that fails to bury its dead It is something today inconceivable, very uncivilized. Critics of Virginia Raggi point out that a great capital like Rome does not deserve to have a mayor unable to bury her dead.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism