Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The company you keep

So far only Walter Veltroni of the Partito Democratico and Enrico Boselli of the Italian Socialist party have responded to the question posed by the authoratitive (and innovative) economics website La Voce: “If elected Prime Minister, what will you do against the Mafia?”

Before getting into Veltroni’s response (ignoring Boselli, as his electoral support is too small to enable him to become Prime Minister), we’ll just take note that Berlusconi’s Popolo della Liberta party have yet to respond to the question. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Given that a number of high-profile party members, from Berlusconi’s former party Forza Italia, have been charged with mafia related offences*, perhaps the ‘against’ in the question posed has party moguls scratching their heads.

Veltroni’s response, coming hot on the heels of his election campaign’s rallies in Sicily and Calabria, suggest the party has a determined and effective plan against the mafia ready. Veltroni, addressing the mafia directly, said during his rally in Palermo, “The Mafia and the ‘ndranghetta'(the Calabrian organised crime equivalent to the Mafia) can decide what they want, but they should decide one thing: to not vote for the PD, because if the PD governs Italy it will try to destroy those powers that impede the South[…]”. Brave words, perhaps, to say in the heart of the Mafia fiefdoms. Then again, the likelihood of the Mafia organising a vote for the PD in Sicily, is unlikely to say the least. In this corner of Italy’s democracy votes have always gone to the centre-right – the question is more likely to be whether the Mafia will endorse Pierferdinando Casini’s DC party, which currently hold the majority of seats in Sicily, or Berlusconi’s Pdl party (Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, in 2001 recieved 61 out of Sicily’s 61 seats – something to joke about with his buddy Vladimir Putin, no doubt).

The substance of Veltroni’s plan seems sound. Ten points to be followed, which include legislative reform to ensure harsh penalties for mafiosi, and the effective confiscation of property owned by the Mafia (measures for both already exist, but are suspiciously inefficient).

Point number six in his plan (available in Italian here), is one of the crucial ones – measures to break the links between the Mafia and Public Officials, with close monitoring of town councils suspected of collusion with the mafia (many councils have, over the years, been dissolved, after investigations revealed Mafia management of local finances), and the banning of officials with criminal records for collusion.

The continued strength of organised crime in Italy should be the #1 issue in any election, as it has ramifications for the entire society. Italy’s economic performance is crippled by organised crime (would you invest in an area where you’re subjected to unofficial taxes, decided by thugs with guns). Italy’s infrastructure is crippled, as monies are siphoned off to build elaborate and unecessary public works in Mafia controlled territories. The health of Italy’s citizens, most particularly in the South, has been dramatically compromised on several fronts by Mafia interference. Whether it’s the control and management of expensive private health clinics in Sicily, or the dumping of toxic waste around Napoli, the physical and economic damage inflicted by organised crime is devastating.

So Veltroni’s plan is to be welcomed. How serious is it though, when you take a look at the PD’s electoral list. When the list was first published, anti-mafia campaigners were dumbfounded at the absence of Giuseppe Lumia, a member of the constituent assembly of the PD’s and a leading anti-mafia campaigner. Lumia, according to Mafia witnesses, was sentenced to death by former boss Bernardo Provenzano, during his (Lumia) tenure as head of the parliamentary anti-mafia commission.

An ommission can be forgiven, particularly in the bright new ‘meritocracy’ ushered in by the birth of the PD. Perhaps Lumia didn’t get on the list because there were other, more talented people who can organise the fight against the mafia?

Like Salvo Andò, a veteran Sicilian politician who was charged during the Mani Pulite investigations with collusion with the Catania based Mafia clan Santapaola in exchange for votes, as well as charges of corruption. Technically, Ando has a clean record, as he was cleared on some charges, whilst others were dismissed due to the statute of limitations.

Like Vladimiro Crisafulli, who was filmed kissing presumed mafia boss Raffaele Bevilaqua, with whom he discussed at length various public-tenders, positions etc.

If the PD wants to be taken seriously about its plan for Organised Crime, the first thing to do is to ensure that there can be no doubts about any of its electoral candidates. Without that, the difference between them and Berlusconi is only rhetoric.

*For example Marcello Dell’Utri, often cited as the ‘brains’ behind the formation of Forza Italia back in the ’90s. Dell’Utri, currently a Senator, stands convicted of collusion with the Mafia – a conviction which is being appealed. It was Dell’Utri who introduced Berlusconi to his enigmatic stable-keeper/gardener the mafioso Vittorio Mangano.