Politician mistakes chefs for 'refugees having fun'

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The chefs were staying in the Veneto tourist town of Cavallino. Photo: Dymytrok
15:12 CEST+02:00
A Northern League councillor for the Veneto region has been left red-faced after mistaking a group of people enjoying themselves in a swimming pool in the tourist town of Cavallino for “refugees from the Ivory Coast”.

Francesco Calzavara, the ex-mayor of Jesolo, made the gaffe on his Facebook page, Corriere reported.

“It seems that a dozen migrants from the Ivory Coast have arrived, and are enjoying themselves in the swimming pool of a residential building,” he wrote on July 25th.

“I’m confident that the prefect of Cuttaia will implement his plan not to send any more refugees to tourist areas during the summer period.”

But as the post was shared, it got picked up by Sebastiano Barbassi, the manager of the building, who said the people in the pool were chefs. They were in town for a conference and had rented out four apartments.

In fact, the chefs regularly rent out apartments in the building.

“Accordingly, they are tourists in every respect,” Barbassi responded to the post.

Having been forced to admit his error, Calzavara then said: “The power of Facebook...they are a group who regularly rent the apartments out. All that’s left is to wish them a good holiday in Cavallino.”

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Veneto leaders have been staunch in their anti-immigration approach in recent months, opposing a government call to house more refugees as the country struggles amid persistent migrant arrivals.

But tensions have hit boiling point, with residents in Treviso burning furniture intended for migrants earlier this month, in protest against their arrival.

The tensions have been whipped up by the region’s leader, Luca Zaia, who supported the protesters, describing the mayhem as “the Africanization of Veneto”.

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