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The Trashy Battle for Naples

Trash in Naples, Italy

The streets of Italian city Naples are once again playing host to festering, burning piles of refuse. The newly appointed mayor of this Italian city is Luigi De Magistris has stated that the health of Naples’ citizens is at risk. And Italy’s President Napolitano has asked the government to intervene.

***Click here to read about Lavajet***

But the ‘crisis’ in Naples is not real – it is artificial, and is now being used as a way to oust an honest mayor by the looks of things.

Luigi De Magistris is a former magistrate who was forced from his job after his investigations started to close in on the corrupt high and mighty in Italy.

Berlusconi, who has faced accusations of bending Italy’s laws on more than one occasion, is not a huge fan of ex-magistrate De Magistris. Indeed, Berlusconi was reportedly very unhappy when his party’s candidate for the position of mayor of Naples was soundly beaten in run-off elections.

Upon De Magistris’ victory, Berlusconi announced that the citizens of Naples would regret their choice of mayor.

Today, Berlusconi, who is now under pressure from Italy’s president to act, stated with a smile on his face, that Naples would be freed of rubbish soon enough. Some may wonder whether De Magistris was the ‘rubbish’ Berlusconi was referring to.

Naples Never Ending Trash Troubles

The rubbish collection problem which has inflicted Naples for many years is once more reaching a head. A while back Silvio Berlusconi waded into the city promising to sort out the situation once and for all. He did not.

Reports of burning piles of trash have appeared on Italy’s TV news and unless the matter can be resolved quickly, Naples new mayor may find that his position is taken over by a special commissioner who will be sent in to manage and, possibly, resolve the mess.

Most probably Silvio Berlusconi would be more than happy for De Magisitris to be ousted in this way, as it would mean control of the city could be placed into more malleable hands than those of corruption and mafia bashing De Magistris.

Via Twitter I’ve been hearing very mixed reports on the situation on the ground in Naples. Some say the city is tidy, others claim it stinks and the opinions seem to vary from one area of the city to another. Yes, I will admit to being confused.

One Naples based Twitter user was very keen for me to see his geo-tagged photographs of trash-free Neapolitan streets. And indeed, after checking the location on Google Maps and using Street View, the photographs did indeed show zero rubbish on certain streets of Naples.

My impression is that as soon as rubbish is cleared up, certain elements, reputedly sponsored by the ruthless camorra mafia, do all they can to ensure that the trash is spread all over the streets once more.

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For added effect these untidy people have been setting the piles of rubbish on fire.  It’s something of a running battle by all accounts and it sounds as if De Magistris is losing. And for reasons unknown, Naples police forces do not seem to be doing a fat lot to stop the bands of refuse spreaders from operating. Amazing, but this is Italy.

Here’s one video showing kids throwing rubbish everywhere (sorry – videos no longer available):

And here is another video showing ‘street cleaners’ doing the opposite and actually emptying rubbish out of bins and all over the streets:

Unsurprisingly, the Berlusconi government has not rushed in to help tidy up Naples, which is also a prime destination for tourism in Italy.

Naples mayor is being isolated – which is the preferred tactic in Italy of those who want to be able to continue to work the system. Anti-mafia judges have faced such isolation tactics too. (And in 2015, the Mayor of Rome is facing similar attempts to isolate him – from his very own political party led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi – Berlusconi’s people would also like Mayor Marino to go – sounds a little like the Naples situation).

Lavajet Refuse Collector Link to Berlusconi

One of the companies which is responsible for refuse collection in Naples is called Lavajet (which, I understand from amused Washington Post Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly, has been awarded a trash management contract in Beirut – added on August 24 2015)

The employees of this company were on strike because they had not been paid for months – if you can understand Italian, watch this video report: Napoli sommersa dai rifiuti. Lavajet non paga i dipendenti – Naples submerged in refuse. Lavajet not paying its employees.

After doing some digging around the Italian internet on the Lavajet company, I came across an article which stated that the president of Lavajet is one Giancarlo Vedeo who also happens to be an executive in Berlusconi’s PDL party in Savona. Curious.

Knowing how often favours are asked of friends in Italy, one might hypothesise that phone calls have been made to the Lavajet president to ask him to ensure that his company does not fulfil its refuse collection duties in Naples. It is possible that in return for his ‘assistance’, some compensation may have been offered. Girls, money and Rolex watches seem to be high on the gift list for helpful friends in Italy at the moment.

Pure speculation, but Berlusconi & Co would love to see the back of the inquisitive De Magistris, preferably before he uncovers lots of cans of worms with regard to the running of mafia ridden Naples. To hasten the demise, so to speak, of this pesky mayor via the trash crisis, one strategy would be to ensure that the striking refuse collectors continue to strike, so refuse crisis continues, and De Magistris is made to look inept.

Not offering help is another way to ensure De Magistris looks bad too.

There might be collusion between the mafia and the government, but not necessarily, even if the ousting of De Magistris is likely to be a mutual aim. Connections between politicians and mobsters in Italy are not exactly unheard of.

To be honest, the fact that Berlusconi is reluctant to intervene in Naples does give one the distinct impression that he sides with the mafia.

Poor De Magistris really does have a battle on his hands and if he loses it, Naples may well fall into the control of the camorra mafia. Actually, Naples has always been in the hands of organised crime and De Magisitris will be lucky to win.

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