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Trash Troubles A Burning Issue in Naples, again

Trash in Naples, Italy

A while back, a while before the election of Berlusconi into power, Italy, and Naples in particular, came to the attention of the world for all the wrong reasons.  It was a nasty situation, possibly provoked by the mafia, which left Naples full of festering piles of garbage. Well, the trash, alas, is back.

Trash in Naples, Italy
Trash in Naples, Italy

Way back in May 2007 I wrote something about trash issues in Naples, and then followed Naples trash troubles until Silvio Berlusconi brought them to an end.  I even suggested, in January 2008, before it actually happened, that Italy’s then Prime Minister Romano Prodi should send in troops in to sort out the mess.  Troops were sent in.

Sadly, the Naples trash crisis is flaring up once more, and a source of mine in Naples tells me that while things are not yet as bad as they were in 2007-2008 and 1994, the situation is not looking great with around 700 tonnes of rubbish lying on the streets.  Only today the news carried an item about 60 odd trash collection trucks which had been seriously ‘damaged’.  Anarchists, it was claimed on the news, were responsible for the destruction.

Rubbish, lamented my, Italian, other half. ‘Why don’t they mention the mafia?’ – as she is convinced the trash troubles have been engineered by the camorra mafia ( – others lean towards the same opinion) which dominates Naples and the areas surrounding this southern Italian city.

So what’s going on, and why has this crisis reared its ugly head once more?

Here are a few theories:

Mafia Arrests Have Reached Record Levels – Scenario One

Could it be that all the arrests and asset seizures which Italy’s minister Maroni has been overseeing have finally provoked the camorra mafia into a ‘show of force’?  This is a possibility.

I know some suspect that the mafia arrests are something of a sham, and that only certain mafia people are being rounded up – but maybe someone on the ‘list’ finally got really irritated and decided to stir up a bit of trouble.

Berlusconi Paid the Mafia to Bring An End the Previous Trash Troubles? – Scenario Two

It was Berlusconi who oversaw and was instrumental in the ending of the last Naples’ garbage crisis.

Some Italians suspect that large amounts of cash were thrown in various directions to bring the 2007/2008 Naples’ trash crisis to an end.

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Maybe, but nobody knows, nor will they ever know most probably, whether this was the case.  But, assuming for a moment it was, paying off the mafia would have given it enormous leverage.  How about: ‘OK Mr Berlusconi, we want five hundred million Euros, or we will spark another crisis.’ type ultimatums.  ‘No’, came the response from Rome.  Hello new trash crisis – which may end when someone pays up.

Additionally, it is possible that the mafia have another card to play – the ‘pay up or we’ll tell the people you paid us off’ card.

Berlusconi Needs Positive Light – Scenario Three

What a coincidence that at the very same time the Berlusconi government is in a spot of bother, having lost its majority in Italy’s lower house – it now has around 310 party faithful, but needs 316 to push through new legislation – this crisis has come to the fore.

Could it be that friends of friends with certain contacts encouraged someone to resurrect Naples’ trash troubles?  One has no idea, but, it would not do Berlusconi’s image any harm at all if he were to wade in there and, once again, bring the situation under control.

Not only could ending the current the crisis put the shine back onto Berlusconi and his government’s somewhat tarnished image, but the crisis in itself acts as a highly effective diversion. Media spotlights have been turned away from Berlusconi’s troubles. This gives Berlusconi and his crew a little more breathing space to either round up a few more people to reach a majority once more, and save the present government, or to ready themselves for elections.  And another potential advantage is that attention will be drawn away from the verbal attacks of Berlusconi’s former number two, and now adversary, Gianfranco Fini.

All mere speculation, I know, but the timing does make one think, does it not?  And Italy is a complex place.

Whatever has gone on, and is still going on, I pity the honest citizens of Naples who are ‘piggy in the middle’ in this unpleasant mess.  Something stinks, and it is not necessarily just rotting waste.

It’s very much watch this space time.

Further reading:

Naples Politics: Garbage Crisis Explodes Again – September 25 2010

Spiegel Online InternationalHow the Mafia Helped Send Italy’s Trash to Germany on Naples’ last trash crisis.

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