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Italian Courage

The mafia is as Italian as pasta, and as efficient as some of the world’s top multinationals.  In fact, it may be true to say that Italy’s mafia is the most efficient Italian ‘institution’ of all of Italy’s institutions.

Going up against Italy’s vicious and ruthless organised crime institutions is a frightening, daunting, and thankless task, yet some brave Italians are prepared to do what is necessary.

On Monday, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced that a task force was to be set up to counter all the bad press Italy is receiving around the world.  This task force is to scour the Italian news in search of stories which will put Italy in a good light, and then bring these stories to the attention of the press at international level.

Well, here is one story which might help those outside Italy appreciate that some Italians have been and are working to extricate the country from its long-standing mafia mess.  Efforts which will make Italy a better place.

What is even more laudable is that the Italians working towards this goal are putting their very lives at great risk.

Anti-mafia Men and Women

Italy’s unsung forces for good are the men and women of Italy who work for and with the country’s anti-mafia organisations.

These organisations, which include Italy’s polizia and carabinieri police forces, plus the DIA – Direzione Investigativa Antimafia – Antimafia Investigative Directorate, work very much behind the scenes.  Their achievements do not seem to attract much media attention either here in Italy, or abroad.

Oh, there are reports here and there, but the coverage all seems to be rather low key.

This could be because the victories in the fight against Italy’s mafia are merely skirmishes in what it proving to be a long and hard war.  Or it could be a deliberate tactic designed to keep certain people guessing, and to deter others from jumping on the wrong bandwagon.

Still, what has been achieved recently is noteworthy, and should put Italy in a pretty good light.

Roberto Maroni’s Anti-Mafia Victories

Roberto Maroni - Italy's Interior Minister
Roberto Maroni - Italy's Interior Minister

The current anti-mafia initiative is being coordinated by Italy’s interior minister, Roberto Maroni, and this initiative has scored a number of victories over Italy’s infamous organised crime families.

It may surprise some to know that Maroni-sponsored actions have resulted in the removal of the mind-boggling sum of around 6 billion Euros from mafia coffers.

As a result, around 700 million Euros of ex-mafia earnings has been placed in a special fund for Italy’s anti-mafia bodies to use to fight what Maroni describes as being a ‘cancer’.

Minister Maroni is a brave man.  He will know full well that what he is doing will be angering some exceptionally powerful people.  People who can order hits, bombings, and kidnappings, at the drop of a hat.

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Through his hard line stance, Maroni is putting his own life at risk.  For this he merits some official recognition by the Italian Republic.

Selfless and Courageous Italians

However, it is not just Maroni who deserves recognition, but also all those other individuals who are working on anti-mafia investigations and operations.  These commendable people are incredibly selfless and courageous.   By becoming involved in such investigations, they are putting both themselves, their families, and possibly even their friends, at risk.

Once someone undertakes to help combat Italy’s organised crime, he or she can virtually kiss good-bye to a normal life.

These people have to live with the very real fear that the next time they pop out to the shops, turn the ignition key in their cars, or simply go out for a drive with their families, could well be their last experience of life.  Every passing motorcycle has to be viewed with a certain degree of suspicion, as anyone who has lived in Italy for any length of time knows that for mafia assassins, motorcycles are a preferred means of transportation.

Round the clock vigilance is necessary, every second of every day.  Every year.  Italy’s anti-mafia crime fighters will also be well aware that they can trust very few people.  Corrupt politicians, both at local and national level, will be all too ready to pass on information about forthcoming operations to certain contacts.  Anti-mafia crusaders Falconi and Borsellino, it is suspected, fell foul to high level informants.

Although it is difficult to prove, it is widely suspected in Italy that mafia tentacles penetrate deep into the county’s institutions, to the extent that it’s sometimes difficult to know whether an institution is merely that, or something more sinister.  This being the case, it is hard to know who to trust. If information does end up in the wrong hands, then sadly, this may lead to more headstones in Italian graveyards.

Italian writer, Roberto Saviano in his book on Naple’s camorra mafia makes it quite clear that the kingpins in Italy’s organised crime groups do not tolerate threats and interference.    These kingpins will act, sooner or later.   And Saviano is still under protection 24 hours a day.

Italy’s unsung heroes

In spite of the grave danger they face, Italians still join Italy’s anti-mafia task forces.  They still put their lives on the line.

We will probably never know their names, or even what they have done.  Such people are incredibly brave, and their actions demonstrate that Italians do have a sense of justice, and these selfless people believe what they are doing will make Italy a better place.  They know too that the cost of improving Italy is likely to be high, and may even involve the giving of their lives.

The people who work for Italy’s anti-mafia bodies really are are Italy’s unsung heroes.  They deserve an enormous amount of respect, and, where possible, recognition.

When you hear bad things about Italy, think for a moment about these brave Italians.

And there are plenty of other merit-worthy Italians too, of that, I can assure you.

Roberto Maroni image source: Presidenza della Repubblica via Wikipedia


Reuters Italy – 9 October, 2009 – Maroni, sottratti a mafia 5,4 miliardi, per polizia 676 milioni – Maroni: 5.4 billion, removed from the mafia, 676 million to go to the police – in Italian

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