Mafia is a criminal organization which developed in Sicily
Mafia's aim is to rule in the territory and take the place of the central government.
Its ruling areas changed in history, the very first one was agriculture, now the main money source is drug-dealing.
Why has mafia survived through the years?
Mafia is very different from the other common criminal organizations, because it is a large organization which also has infiltrations in politics and even in the police force.
The other reason of its longevity is the appeal that it has had on common people.
It is the cultural motivation for the Mafia strength.
It means ”not talking”, a person who sees or even suffers a crime doesn't speak about it and doesn't report it to the police for fear of a more cruel revenge from the criminals.
In Southern Italy, the pizzo is money paid by the shop owners to the Mafia in exchange for protection; The term is derived from the Sicilian pizzu ('beak'). To let someone wet their beak (Sicilian language "fari vagnari a pizzu") is to pay protection money.
Shops that refuse to pay the pizzo may suffer different kind of intimidation, including arson or even murder . In return, the shops receive "protection”. Collecting the pizzo keeps the Mafia in touch with the community and allows it to "control their territory".
One of the first shop owners to refuse to pay protection money was Libero Grassi, a businessman from Palermo. On January 10, 1991, he wrote an open letter to the Giornale di Sicilia, the local newspaper. Published on the front page, it was addressed to an anonymous "Dear Extortionist". People from Palermo stood by him but, barely nine months later, on August 29, 1991, Grassi was killed by the Mafia.
“ A people who pay the pizzo is a people without dignity”
This sentence was written by AddioPizzo, a social self-conscious consumer movement led by a generation whose adolescence was characterized by the murders of anti-Mafia judges, journalists and businessmen – frustrated with the Mafia's stranglehold on the local economy and political life.
One day in 2004 they covered Palermo with stickers.
AddioPizzo organises demonstrations wearing black T-shirts with the Addiopizzo logo, a broken circle with an X in the middle and the words "consumo critico" (critical consumption).
Falcone and Borsellino
Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were two Italian magistrates who specialised in prosecuting Sicilian Cosa Nostra.
Both were killed (less than two months apart) in particularly audacious bomb attacks in 1992.
The Antimafia pool
The two judges became part of Palermo's Antimafia Pool, created by judge Rocco Chinnici (another victim of mafia). The Antimafia pool was a group of investigating magistrates who closely worked together sharing information to prevent one person from becoming the sole institutional memory and solitary target.
The Antimafia pool laid the groundwork for the Maxi Trial against the Sicilian Mafia.
The trial lasted almost two years. Of 474 Mafiosi members originally charged, 360 were convicted of serious crimes.
Pentito designates people who, formerly part of criminal or terrorist organizations, following their arrests decide to "repent" and collaborate with the judicial system to help investigations.
In exchange for the information they deliver, pentiti receive shorter sentences for their crimes, in some cases even freedom. In the Italian judicial system, pentiti can obtain personal protection, a new name, and some money to start a new life in another place, possibly abroad.
Falcone was killed with his wife Francesca Morvillo and three policemen near Capaci on the motorway between Palermo International Airport and the city of Palermo on May 23, 1992. A bomb exploded under the road destroying his car. Borsellino was killed on July 19, 1992 while visiting his mother in via D'Amelio. When he rang the door bell a Fiat 126 exploded killing him and 5 policemen.
After their death several schools and public buildings were named after them, including Palermo International Airport.
The Italian Republic honored their memory with the Italian "Medaglia d'oro al valor civile" in 1992.
<< He who is silent and bows his head dies every time he does so. He who speaks aloud and walks with his head upright dies only once. >> —Giovanni Falcone
<< Let's convince ourselves that we are walking corpses. >> —Ninni Cassarà, member of Antimafia Pool.
<< The fight against mafia, which is the first problem to solve in our unfortunate and beautiful land, must be not only a cold repressive action, but a moral and cultural movement, involving everyone, especially younger generations, the most fit to feel the beauty of the fresh taste of freedom that sweeps away the foulness of moral compromise, of indifference, of contiguity and, hence, of complicity. >>
— Paolo Borsellino, from the speech during Falcone's funerals