The Blame For Italy's Slave Trade Is Misplaced

I found "Workers in bondage" (Investigations, Nov. 27) timely and accurate. But I also found its tone offending. The casual reader could infer that more than one-quarter of the Italian economy works by exploiting slavery and poverty. We are still a country of 56 million people, and though the numbers of the slave trade are scary and rising, they are still quite modest vs. the size of our economy.

You duly point out that patrolling our borders (coasts and mountains) is hard, but you fail to remind that we are also the country in Western Europe that is most exposed to this traffic because of our geographical location. Also, not one euro--or dollar, for that matter--has been contributed by Germany, France, or others to help us, although after the implementation of the Schengen agreements and the lowering of border controls between members, our coasts are "French" and "German" as well.

You fail to stress that thousands of refugees come not just from impoverished countries, but from places like Kurdistan, where a country is not allowed to be born because some Western governments do not want to upset Turkey, a good ally. Politics, too, can create slaves.

You fail to remind that thousands of refugees are sheltered, fed, and welcomed every month by Italian nongovernmental organizations and ordinary people without any reward other than a smile from those poor victims.

Your report is scary, and the terrible slave traffic exists. But we Italians bear little responsibility and most of the burden, and this is not clear in your report. Western governments can do a lot about it, but we also need support and not finger-pointing, which is especially unfair when it comes from a country where sweatshops are widely used by large companies, although in a more sophisticated form: They are just kept abroad, in Mexico, Indonesia, etc.

Alberto Canesi