Goodbye Mario, and thank you
Mario Paciolla, one of the founders of the Cafébabel network, has been found dead in Colombia under tragic circumstances. A campaign is currently underway to bring the reasons for his death to light. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
We are having our lunch break in the Brussels editorial office. It's almost the weekend, so there's a cheerful atmosphere. We are cooking, chatting, joking. A phone vibrates and a notification appears. When we read it, we think it's a bad joke. Mario Paciolla, a young European, has lost his life. The 33-year-old Neapolitan is one of the founders of the Cafébabel network. For some years, he had been working in humanitarian aid, in line with the values he had always held.
The lifeless body of the young man was found on the evening of 15th July in his home in San Vicente, 600 km from the Colombian capital, where he had lived and worked since 2018 on the peace agreements processes with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). The circumstances surrounding his death are tragic. His death, first declared as a suicide by the Colombian authorities, is suspected to be a disguised homicide. The young man had very recently told his relatives about his wish to return to Italy. "It's time to come home and bathe in the waters of Naples," he told his mother a few days before his death. He also told her that he felt he was in danger, hence his wish to return. A return had finally been planned for 20th July, which Mario never had the chance to embark on.
His family are calling for a thorough investigation to be opened in order to establish the truth around the obscure circumstances of his death. In addition to the feeling of insecurity he had reported, the body of Mario Paciolla displayed wounds and lacerations that suggest that he was the victim of considerable violence, which ultimately led to his death. The area in which he worked to reintegrate former FARC combatants was considered by experts to be highly dangerous.
Giustizia Per Mario Paciolla
A collective on behalf of Giustizia per Mario Paciolla ("Justice for Mario Paciolla") quickly mobilised in Italy to put pressure on the Italian government and demand that justice be done. It is natural for Cafébabel to take part in this movement of solidarity and confront the European institutions. Our Italian publishers visited Naples this weekend to carry banners and support Mario's relatives. A petition, supported by the movement with the hashtag #iostoconmario, has been launched and has already collected no less than 59,000 signatures.
The Italian minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, assured the mayor of Naples that he would pay particularly close attention to the Paciolla case and that he would ensure that the truth surrounding it be determined.
All our members in Italy and elsewhere in Europe have mobilised for Mario. The reason Cafébabel exists today is thanks to his talent and involvement in the network. We are committing ourselves to pursue the claims until the truth is established. Because not only are we a network of journalists, reporters and other European adventurers. We are also, more importantly, a big family whose loss of one of its Babelians will leave a gaping wound in the depths of our hearts.
Rest in peace Mario, and above all, thank you.