Abandoning Ship Italian Paper Likens Merkel to Shipwreck Captain

When Costa Concordia capsized off the Italian coast last week, an official demanded the ship's captain get back on board to oversee the evacuation. Now his angry words have been aimed at German Chancellor Merkel in an Italian caricature, which shows her escaping the "MS Europa Discordia."


The sentence has taken on a life of its own in Italy over the past two days. "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" yelled Gregorio Maria De Falco, a member of the Italian Coast Guard at the captain of the Costa Concordia on the night the cruise ship sank.

De Falco demanded several times that the captain, Francesco Schettino, return to the ship and take charge of the rescue measures for the more than 4,200 passengers. Schettino dodged the request several times, until De Falco yelled the phrase at him, which in English means, "Get back on board, for fuck's sake!"

Since the exchange became public on Tuesday, the sentence has been printed on T-shirts, meanwhile several Facebook groups have been founded with the name "Capitano Schettino, vada a bordo cazzo," the largest of which has 40,000 members.

Captain Merkel

And now the Italian newspaper Il Libero, a conservative paper that is considered sympathetic to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has used the sentence in caricature of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On the front page of its Wednesday edition, the paper ran a large cartoon, which showed the captain's now famous alleged flight from the ship. But in the drawing, Schettino's face has been replaced by Merkel, who is shown rowing away from a sinking cruise ship. In a row boat painted in the colors of Germany's flag, the chancellor hurriedly escapes a sinking ship named the MS Europa Discordia, instead of Costa Concordia. A cartoon bubble shows someone yelling "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" at the chancellor. The scene implies that Captain Merkel has abandoned ship, so to speak, when it comes to saving the euro and the currency union.

The caricature dominated Italy's front pages on Wednesday, the same day newspapers included reports that Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti had pushed for Germany to contribute more, for example in joint euro bonds, to help lower interest rates on Italian debt. The German government has strictly ruled out such a move, and Merkel made that clear once again.

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