Italians from the Emilia-Romagna region have experienced firsthand the destruction, death and terror that earthquakes can inflict. Four years ago, two quakes hit on May 20 and May 29, measuring 5.9 and 5.8 respectively, toppling numerous buildings in historic downtowns and leaving 27 dead, 350 injured and thousands homeless.
The scenario that is currently emerging from the disastrous earthquake that has devastated Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata and Pescara del Tronto is like salt on our wounds. We feel a strong sense of brotherhood and solidarity with the victims.
It is not by chance that mere hours after the terrible quake struck, our region sent the first set of volunteers and equipment for the early assistance efforts.
On the day after the quake, we organized a convoy of Civil Protection services that included roughly 100 volunteers, as well as transportable structures and services that could provide shelter for 250 homeless quake victims.
But let's be clear: It is not only people from Emilia-Romagna who are trying to help. At a deeply tragic time, when entire towns have been destroyed, the passion and dedication of Italian assistance efforts is plain to see. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi is right to state that it is in situations like these that Italy shows the world its best self.
Why is it that stronger earthquakes in other countries do less damage and leave fewer victims?
And yet...There is something I haven't been able to stop thinking about since the terrible new tragedy struck: Why, I find myself asking, did this happen once again in Apennines? Why did this happen again after Irpinia, Umbria, the Marche, Aquila, and even Emilia? Why is it that we wind up tallying the number of buildings destroyed and people killed after every earthquake, regardless of its strength? Why is it that stronger earthquakes in other countries do less damage and leave fewer victims? Why is it that after each tragedy, we valiantly say "never again!" and yet we're so inept at changing anything until the next disaster hits?
So I feel the need to say something, even though I can't stand the fact that I'm feeding controversy in a moment like this, during which all we really need is assistance and contributions. I believe that buildings will continue to crumble, people will continue to be killed by earthquakes, landslides and recurring floods in our Bella Italia, because nobody is really doing anything concrete to make this country a safer place.
And the central and southern regions of the country aren't the only places where this is true. Buildings continue to crumble and people keep dying in newer buildings, including government buildings. The building trade is corrupt, infiltrated by the mafia, and driven by private interests.
Buildings will continue to crumble, people will continue to be killed by earthquakes, landslides and recurring floods in our Bella Italia, because nobody is really doing anything concrete to make this country a safer place.
In 2012, industrial warehouses collapsed and workers died in Emilia because proper anti-earthquake regulations did not yet exist, and it was convenient for companies to save money by shortcutting worker safety.
People continue to die and buildings keep collapsing because the actions of our governments, both local and national, are short-sighted and driven by the desire for electoral consensus. They lack a farsighted vision for the "greater good."
Therefore, politicians cut taxes on first-home purchases and distribute bonuses, rather than setting up economic incentives or fines that would safeguard our splendid small medieval towns.
So there, I've said it. My heart goes out to the victims of this new tragedy, and I am full of anger towards the political and economic system that promises Italians that "no one will be left alone," but in reality, doesn't lift a finger to change the status quo.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.