Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced that the Hotel Bellevue in Cosio Valtellino in the Alpine province of Sondrio, which had been turned into a center to host refugees and in recent months had changed its name to "Rezia Valtellina," will be closed by the government.
"We promised to cut off the business of reception and to offer protection only to real refugees," Salvini said."We are keeping our commitments in the splendid Valtellina, where hosted migrants have been reduced by half."
"I don't understand Salvini's animosity, his pleasure over the closure," said the owner of the Rezia, Giulio Salvi. "He often says that we have to think first of Italians. There are eight of them who I, as a business owner, will have to send home without work, in addition to my son-in-law who is Pakistani," Salvi said. "And it's not just them, in addition, I will no longer be able to find work for those who provide food or some external services. If this is what you call thinking of the Italians..." he tailed off.
Salvi said the last migrants left at the center will be transferred to other centers within a week or 10 days at most. "I'm sorry that Salvini, who I also thought was my minister, thinks like that, 'Italians first'. I'm not sure, but is he thinking of all of Valtellina's residents? Even those of a different race?" questioned Salvi; the businessman renewed his appeal to Salvini to visit the hotel and trade opinions with him. "He comes to Valtellina often, and I'd ask him if he realizes the many businesses that have closed and the many others that are about to," Salvi said.
Over 440 asylum seekers in Valtellina
Salvi said many of his colleagues are tired of the situation and would like to close, but can't do so due to debts with the banks. "I always tried to conduct my business as a hotelier with honesty, and, on March 21, 2014 when I began hosting asylum seekers I did so based on the specific request of the local authorities," Salvi said. "Now I'm closing because my application to continue wasn't accepted by the call for tenders put out by the Sondrio prefecture," he said.
As a result, he explained, "workers here in the Alps from different races will lose their jobs and I, at 61 years old, will have to start over again in business to support my family," he said. "I'm thinking of emigrating to the United States to open a pastry and gelato shop," he added. There are currently 440 asylum seekers in Valtellina, compared to the peak two years ago when there were 800 refugees.