Updated | Anti-poverty campaigner Charles Miceli dies

Malta has lost one of its vocal social activists with the passing of veteran campaigner Charles Miceli • Tributes to the actvist have started pouring in

Veteran social justice campaigner Charles Miceli. Photo: Ray Attard
Veteran social justice campaigner Charles Miceli. Photo: Ray Attard

Updated at 4.38pm with reactions

Anti-poverty campaigner Charles Miceli, 68, has passed away.

Miceli who started off as a journalist with Union Print, worked for many years in the drug rehabilitation sector with Church organisation Caritas.

Always the voice of the downtrodden, Miceli was over recent years actively involved with the Anti-Poverty Alliance to raise awareness on the phenomenon.

In the light of rapidly rising rents that are hitting poor and old people hard, Miceli’s activism was of late dedicated to rent reform.

Miceli was married to Pauline Miceli, the Child Commissioner, and had one daughter.

Read also: ‘Work doesn’t pay’ | Charles Miceli

MaltaToday spoke to former l-orizzont editor Frans Ghirxi, who joined Union Print along with Miceli as apprentices in 1964.

Shocked by Miceli’s death, Ghirxi recalled how they both joined the General Workers’ Union’s printing press as linotype operators.

Miceli migrated to the newsroom in 1975. “He was the one to encourage me to join the newsroom even if it meant taking a pay cut,” Ghirxi recalled.

He remembers Miceli as a man who never forgot his poor roots. “He was always down to earth and always interested in helping others,” Ghirxi said.

Miceli left Union Print some years later to go and help at an orphanage in Gozo, before joining Caritas where he was involved in the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

“In all he did, Charles would always keep the disadvantaged in mind… he was one of a kind with a big social conscience,” Ghirxi said.

Sensitive, intelligent and extremely altruistic

Another person who worked with Miceli for many years at Caritas is Mariella Dimech. She had nothing but words of praise for the “extremely altruistic man”.

Dimech said Miceli was dedicated to address emotional and mental health problems and helped set up the Emotional Anonymous group within Caritas.

“However, he was also very struck by poverty and always strove to address the issue. He was sensitive, intelligent, well-read, strong-principled and a man of values,” Dimech said.

She recalled the time when the two worked together at the Caritas drug rehabilitation centre and with a smile recounted how there was one thing they clashed on.

“The only work-related dispute would be when I wanted to discipline a resident drug addict for not abiding by the rules and he was always ready to forgive and understand. This is something he taught me and which I will keep with me all my life,” Dimech said.

She said that no matter what Miceli was passing through, his family always brought him “tremendous joy”.

A campaigner for just rents

Just last week, Miceli attended a meeting with parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes on behalf of Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar. The organisation was one of 17 NGOs that last month presented proposals for a fairer rent market.

The NGOs’ proposals included a rental registry, tax incentives for long-lets, and price hike brackets tied to cost of living adjustments.

Political parties pay tribute to Miceli

In a statement, the Labour Party described Miceli as the main activist working in Malta’s fight against poverty.

“He always distinguished himself as a person of sound principles, who while always understanding how times changed, remained steadfast in his determination to help the most vulnerable in society,” said the PL.

He party noted that up until a few days ago, Miceli was discussing proposals on the rental market with the government.

The Nationalist Party paid tribute to Miceli, who it said had always worked in the interests of the poor and most vulnerable through his organisation Alleanza kontra l-Faqar.

“He was a man of sound principles for whom the priority was always the poor and the weak, and not political interests,” read a statement by the PN.

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