by Marco Corvaglia
§ 5. Evasions, inspections and Marija Pavlovic’s "volunteers"
Let's watch this clip again from March 2017, when investigative journalist Andrea Casadio (see part 1 of the article) checks out from Marija Pavlović’s "Magnificat" and pays the bill, filming everything with his hidden camera (for English subtitles, select the relevant function in the player bar):
In his 2014 doctoral thesis entitled Fenomen Međugorje kao svjetski brend i top destinacija vjerskog turizma ("The phenomenon of Medjugorje as a global brand and a top destination for religious tourism"), Croatian researcher Vencel Čuljak calculated that in the period from 1981 to 2013 the majority of dealers and hoteliers in Medjugorje were infringing the law, not issuing receipts (fiskalni računi):
32% of total revenue was obtained legally and 68% illegally.
[Vencel Čuljak: Međugorju se ne piše dobro, an interview with Vencel Čuljak published on August 16, 2014 by 24sata.info website]
On top of this tax evasion, there is the problem of the informal economy: jobs paid under the table, evading payroll taxes and social insurance contributions:
In Medjugorje, there are currently 18,500 beds, 4,600 residents and 1,500 employees, 58% of whom are uninsured or are working illegally.
An even more severe assessment came from an industry expert, Zdenka Krezić, the director of a hotel that apparently works honestly, the "Medjugorje Hotel & Spa". Interviewed by the journalist Renato Pugina for the program Falò, broadcast on March 31, 2016 on RSI (Italian Swiss television), the manager estimated that 90% of Medjugorje hoteliers employ workers illegally (select: Settings > Subtitles > English):
The June 25, 2013 issue of the Bosnia-Herzegovina newspaper Večernji list reported about an inspection carried out in various Medjugorje hotels, including Marija Pavlović’s "Magnificat".
Here is the translation:
IN THE DAYS OF CELEBRATION
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FEDERAL INSPECTORS
ENTER THE PROPERTY OF VISIONARY MARIJA PAVLOVIĆ
Just a day before the 32nd anniversary of the apparitions in Medjugorje, where tens of thousands of pilgrims were pouring in from around the world, the inspectors of federal and state security agencies raided several magnificent buildings, including one owned by one of the visionaries, Marija Pavlović-Lunetti. This caused quite a surprise, and many people complained openly.
"We had to choose these days, when the stream of pilgrims is high, so that now we can see in the best way who does what and how they work. We are just doing our job. We've already been here in the past and we found a number of irregularities related to the way of working. The law has to be respected", the inspectors responded, to those who complained that they had chosen precisely the days of the most important celebration in Medjugorje. [...]
[R. Soldo, Na dane proslave. Inspektori FBiH upali na imanje vidjelice Marije Pavlović, "Večernji list", 25 June 2013, pp. 4-5]
Within the same article there is a box specifically dedicated to Marija Pavlović (MARIJIN SUPRUG: "Imam sve dokumente potrebne za valjan život i rad u Međugorju"
[THE HUSBAND OF MARIJA: "I have all the documents needed to live and work in Medjugorje"]):
They [her guests], she says, "are mostly our friends from around the world, especially from Italy, where we have a building like this to house pilgrims. There there are fewer problems with papers and legal issues, and everything is in perfect order. We are trying to create here a space for spiritual renewal, for which, believe me, there is great interest. So some volunteers help us, and in return they study Italian here", the famous seer Marija Pavlović–Lunetti said. Inspectors asked her husband, an Italian, whether he has a residence permit, apparently knowing already through unofficial channels that it had expired and that he has been staying illegally in Bosnia-Herzegovina; he said that he has got everything necessary to live in Medjugorje.
[Ibid, p. 5, emphasis added.
Original text: To su mahom naši prijatelji iz čitavog svijeta, osobito iz Italije, gdje imamo sličan objekt za smještaj hodočasnika. Tamo je manja komplikacija oko papira i zakonskih nejasnoća i sve štima u najboljem redu. Radimo na tome da ovdje stvorimo prostor za duhovnu obnovu, za čime, vjerujte, postoji veliko zanimanje. Zbog toga nam i pomažu volonteri, koji zauzvrat ovdje uče talijanski jezik" – objašnjavala poznata vidjelica Marija Pavlović – Lunetti, čijega su supruga, inače Talijana, inspektori pitali ima li uopće boravišnu dozvolu, očito baratajući s neslužbenom informacijom da mu je istekla te da ilegalno boravi u Bosni i Hercegovini, a na što im je on odgovorio da ima sve potrebno za život u Međugorju.]
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Article published on 7 July 2011. Last update: 5 August 2019
Thanks to Richard Chonak for linguistically revising videos' subtitles and paragraph 5.