May 23: a day for reflection, about the bravery of Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and the three police officers who were killed in the blast on this day in 1992; about the bravery of all anti-mafia prosecutors who have followed the lead of Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and who need always public and political support; about the vital importance, for any society, of the rule of law and of the great moral and physical courage of those who are charged with enforcing it.
GIAC believes that Italy owes a huge debt to Falcone, Borsellino and their successors for the progress that has been made and for their inspiration in achieving that progress.
Yet in the programme of Enrico Letta’s new government there was not a single word about taking this fight further. Far more needs to be done, both in Italy and in the rest of Europe, notably on tracing the flow of mafia cash and thus attacking the mafia’s financial lifeblood. For the health and survival of our western democracies, no single issue is more vital than upholding the rule of law.
During his attendance at Il Salone del Libro in Turin, Bill has been interviewed by Lettera43 about Italian politics, the rule of 5 Star Movement and the defeat of PD.
Click on the image to watch the full interview.
Article reproduced from The Times, 18th May 2013
Mafia Republic: Italy’s Criminal Curse—Cosa Nostra, Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta from 1946 to the present. By John Dickie. Sceptre, 524 pages
Italians often complain that foreigners are obsessed by the Mafia, turning a localized problem of organized crime into a stereotype that damages the image of a whole nation. Yet as John Dickie, a historian of Italy at University College London, shows in this chilling and eye-opening book, the real problem is that the stereotype is correct. The romanticisation of the Mafia by Hollywood may have been damaging, for the truth is squalid and tragic. Yet the worst, and most damaging, romanticisation has been that by Italian cinema, television and literature itself, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.
The point is not that all Italians are mafiosi, of course. Rather, it is that the strength, scale and endurance of the country’s three main mafias are fully and sadly representative of Italy’s broader national weaknesses: disregard for the rule of law, frail state institutions made frailer by the self-centred power games of the politicians and parties that inhabit them, and the frequent failure of Italians themselves, grand or humble, to care or to do much about it.
That failure both caused and prolonged the phenomenon that is hardest of all for outsiders to comprehend: the pretence that the Mafia organisations did not really exist. They had in fact existed for more than a century, albeit as secret societies intermingled with equally secret networks of freemasons. But their crimes were evident for all to see. And as their operations spread or matured from mainly local extortion to cigarette smuggling, kidnapping, drug dealing and then more conventional businesses such as construction, waste disposal and even hospital supplies, their effect on the national economy became more and more evident too.
At the heart of the national weaknesses that explain both the crime and the pretence, as Dickie outlines, has lain a close relationship between organized crime and politics: two networks of power coming to depend on one another for support and protection. That has been especially true in the three southern regions that are the three mafias’ respective home bases—Sicily for Cosa Nostra, Campania for the Camorra and Calabria for the ‘Ndrangheta—but it has also been true both at national level and in rich northern regions such as Piedmont and Lombardy where the southern mafias have also put down roots.
The most devastating period since 1945 for this collaboration between crime and the state was in the 1980s and early 1990s, a period brought recently back to many minds by the death earlier this month of Giulio Andreotti, the Christian Democrat politician who dominated government during that period. It was a time when terrorist outrages by extreme left and extreme right groups coincided with wars within the Mafia, a blood-drenched period that culminated in the massacres in Palermo in 1992 of the two brave anti-mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were leading the first ever real fightback against organized crime.
The Christian Democrats’ party organization in Sicily, and especially the part of it controlled by Andreotti, had long worked closely with Cosa Nostra and had skillfully suppressed judicial and police efforts against organized crime on the island. Yet the extraordinary spate of killings, including many “eminent corpses”, during the 1980s had also brought the previously hidden worlds of the three mafias out into the open and stimulated the fightback against it.
Out of that dark and deadly period, and especially out of the still-not-fully-resolved murders of Falcone and Borsellino, came however both the progress and the hope with which Mafia Republic closes. The progress has come from new anti-mafia powers and laws that have led to the severe disruption and weakening especially of Cosa Nostra in Sicily. The hope has come from growing popular resistance to organized crime from civil society groups and, most notably, business groups such as Confindustria, the Italian equivalent of the CBI and which for years denied the mafias’ existence.
Yet there is a huge amount more to do. The Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, in particular, remain hugely powerful and have networks stretching all around the world. The Neapolitan Camorra, made much better known by the bravery of the writer Robert Saviano, retain a tight grip on their region. And the economic power of all the mafias—as sources of jobs and even finance, and as barriers to open competition—remains extraordinary. The battle against them may have begun, but the war is very far from being won.
The guys from the association Riparte il Futuro interviewed Annalisa and Bill. Click on the image to listen their opinions on the future of Italy, the economic recession and the need for an anti-corruption law.
Sign the petition for the creation of an anti-corruption law.
Lack of meritocracy or even of rewarding achievement is one of Italy’s worst sins.
Which is why we want to celebrate Italian talent (#GIACGOTTALENT).
Once a month we will salute an Italian who can make the whole nation proud.
Do you know someone who does just that? Then let us know by sending us your #GiacGotTalent nomination to YourVoice@girlfriendinacoma.eu. We’ll select one winner every month.
After he studied ballet at the dance academy “Domenichino Da Piacenza” he moved to England in 2006.
On April 27th 2013 he won The Place Prize for Dance, beating 200 other entrants for what is the UK’s biggest and most prestigious contemporary dance award, which is granted only once every two years.
This has made him our choice as the first Giac Italian of the Month. Here are his thoughts about living abroad and the differences in opportunities between UK and Italy, and his wishes for a better Italy.
What made you want to leave Italy?
Basically my passion. In Italy there was no opportunity to study contemporary dance, so this prompted me to come to London, to the London Contemporary Dance School, where I had the chance to improve my professional skills, coming into contact with artistic cultures of different countries and a method of teaching that enhances the individual.
During my studies I had the chance to appreciate the discipline and seriousness of the daily approach to dance. In my work experience I have seen that England gives more opportunities to young people to enter the labour market. I’m 27, and teach at Birkbeck, University of London. I don’t think that such a thing could have been possible in Italy.
What do you feel are the differences between the UK and Italy in terms of the opportunities for a young artist?
I think that in England, especially in London, there is a great respect for art, much more than in Italy. This is also demonstrated by the ease with which you can get funding for artistic projects. In Italy we are stifled by red tape that demeans any attempt to create something new.
If you had a magic wand to change the problems you encountered in Italy, what would you use it for?
Difficult question. First of all, talking about work, I’d make sure that young people had a better chance to succeed: we should stop preserving the old, we must make room for new ideas. And then, actually, I’d make sure that every job in Italy would be paid fairly. I think that most of the ills of Italy start from there.
What would make you go back and what do you miss most about Italy?
I must say that I don’t miss Italy so much. My work often takes me to Italy anyway, giving me the opportunity to appreciate the positives of both countries. Of course what I miss most is Italy’s lifestyle, one thing that is not replicable elsewhere.
See new exclusive content from the archive of Giac Uncut: Bill’s interview with Emma Bonino in December 2011. Here are the thoughts of the current Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs on Europe, meritocracy, role of women and an interesting look at the last 20 years of Italian politics, what has changed and what are her goals for the future.