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I sure ain't gonna show ya my dick. The Palermo Crucible Page 18 2. The Genesis of the Mafia Page 39 3. The Mafia and the Cold War Page 66 4. The Cultural Production of Violence Page 98 5. Seeking Causes, Casting Blame Page 6. Mysteries and Poisons Page 7. The Antimafia Movement Page 8. Backlash and Renewal Page 9. Civil Society Groundwork Page Recuperating the Built Environment Reversible Destiny Page Notes Page References Page Index This document was uploaded by our user.
The uploader already confirmed that they had the permission to publish it. Report DMCA. E-Book Overview Reversible Destiny traces the history of the Sicilian mafia to its nineteenth-century roots and examines its late twentieth-century involvement in urban real estate and construction as well as drugs. Based on research in the regional capital of Palermo, this book suggests lessons regarding secretive organized crime: its capacity to reproduce a subculture of violence through time, its acquisition of a dense connective web of political and financial protectors during the Cold War era, and the sad reality that repressing it easily risks harming vulnerable people and communities.
Charting the efforts of both the judiciary and a citizen's social movement to reverse the mafia's economic, political, and cultural power, the authors establish a framework for understanding both the difficulties and the accomplishments of Sicily's multifaceted antimafia efforts. Schneider Peter T. Schneider and Peter T. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0— cloth : alk. Palmero Italy —History. Palermo Italy —Politics and government.
Schneider, Peter T. I83 M In Memory of Eric R. The Palermo Crucible xiv 1 2. The Cultural Production of Violence 81 5. Seeking Causes, Casting Blame 6. Mysteries and Poisons 7. Backlash and Renewal 9. Civil Society Groundwork Recuperating the Built Environment They suggested books and journals to read, alerted us to events and controversies of interest, invited us to meetings and discussion groups, and included us in the rounds of their everyday lives.
Letizia Paoli, Umberto Santino, Mary Taylor Simeti, and Paolo Viola xi xii Acknowledgments also read an early draft of the manuscript, corrected errors of omission and commission, and raised questions that were extremely important to our revisions. Thanks to their generosity, we were provoked to clarify arguments and consider new sources, comparisons, and analytical strategies in nearly every chapter.
Julia Schneider generously and mercilessly made editorial comments. Two external readers, Judith Chubb and David Kertzer, both long-time students of Italy, offered extended comments, at the same time encouraging us to consider the wider implications of our case. We much appreciate their thoughtful and constructive suggestions.
Reversible Destiny was essentially complete before September 11, The events of that morning have cast it in another light. Perhaps, we believe, aspects of the Sicilian experience are relevant to the pending struggle against terrorism in other parts of the world. In particular, the Sicilian experience suggests a way to frame the pending struggle in criminal justice rather than mainly in military terms. Finally, it means recognizing that a credible strategy must also address poverty, unemployment, and severe dislocation—and not merely as secondary concerns to be taken up when the emergency is over.
We have shared these thoughts with numerous friends and colleagues, including several of the people who are thanked above. With this book we seek to acknowledge those efforts. In the middle is an acre of garden called the Villa Garibaldi, which is surrounded by a handsome Art Nouveau, wrought iron fence depicting animals of the hunt. The Piazza Marina was the center of elegance in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Palermo.
Here men and women of baronial and princely pedigree gathered nightly, clothes and carriages on display, to eat jasmine petal ices and gossip Eberstadt Near the end of World War II, Allied bombers destroyed many of the waterfront palazzi, and by the mids the Piazza Marina was somewhere to avoid, a place where you had to step over garbage, be vigilant against pickpockets and purse snatchers, and wonder whether the magnolia tree, abandoned to the surrounding patch of weeds, hid something sinister in its gothic roots.
Since the early s, however, several buildings surrounding the Piazza Marina have been restored, as has the intricate fence around the Villa Garibaldi. The garden itself, now cleaned and replanted, has become the site of a small playground with brightly colored swings. A second spectacular example is the refurbished Teatro Massimo, the third largest opera house in Europe after those in Paris and Vienna. Reopened in after twenty-three years of haunting silence during which pigeons nested in the rafters and water leaked through the roof, this structure is at the ceremonial center of the renewal.
With a population of around ,, Palermo lost or more persons annually to assassi- The Palermo Crucible 3 nation, not counting disappearances Chinnici and Santino ; Santino The differences are not trivial. Nor is the outcome certain. Second, both the police-judicial crackdown and the social movement of the past two decades can be traced to the modernization of Sicilian society after World War II, and with this the proliferation of urban, educated, and professionalized social groups, above all in Palermo.
Fourth, all of this has occurred during a time of monumental transformation in the geopolitical and political-economic arrangements of the world. In particular, with the end of the Cold War, the Italian and U. Rather, the new economic system seeks legitimacy and peace through what might be called civil democracy—institutions and practices founded on the rights of individual citizens and their respect for the rule of law. Our concluding chapter sketches what these might be. In the last section, we locate ourselves as researchers in the urban landscape.
Drawing upon the organizational innovations and artistic achievements of the Tunisian-based emirate that governed Sicily in the ninth century, the Normans commissioned great works that rendered the 6 The Palermo Crucible city one of the most glorious courts of Europe. The other, a north-south route, was laid down by the Spanish viceroy, the Duke of Maqueda, in and continues to bear his name. They cross at the Quattro Canti, the Four Corners, where the oblique angle of each facing building offers several tiers of festooned and columned niches, which, like miniature stage sets, frame statues of the four seasons, four Spanish kings, and the four patron saints of the adjacent mandamenti administrative divisions.
The new Via Maqueda maximized the streetfront along which ecclesiastical and lay overlords, drawn to the court, could invest their mounting rural revenues in urban real estate La Duca Yet, although much earlier construction was erased, spectacular residues remain, creating a rich and varied architectural patrimony to curate for the future.
The palace of the medieval Norman kings, now the seat of the regional government and before that the vice- The Palermo Crucible 7 Figure 1. Palermo of the popolo before the earthquake. Inside is an exquisite chapel, completed in the s, whose total decoration in gold leaf mosaics captures the synthesis of Crusading, Arabic, and Byzantine cultures created under King Roger.
Dating to the same period are the Zisa, an imposing Arab pleasure palace used by the Norman kings, another less well-preserved Arab palace, the Cuba, and, located in the now 8 The Palermo Crucible Figure 2. Palermo of the aristocracy. Interior of Palazzo Ganci, ca. Located in the Piazza Marina, it was the seat of the Sicilian Inquisition from to Today it houses the rectorate of the University of Palermo, which has been restoring it for over two decades.
All of these highlights of the distant past were of course built over yet deeper layers of history. Palermo was originally a Phoenician city—a fact still evident in its maritime location and port development—and it was, as well, the site of early Christian settlement. A vast third-century Christian catacomb consisting of underground galleries and niches near the cathedral attests to this. Meanwhile, the catacombs of the Capuchin order continue to preserve—and in surprisingly good condition—the well-dressed and embalmed corpses of about eight thousand members of Palermo society who, in the s and s, could afford to be buried there.
Covering the Piana dei Colli Plain of the Hills in the north, and stretching to include the coastal town of Bagheria in the east, a newly verdant landscape sprang forth, tended by sharecroppers and laborers from nearby hamlets and villages see La Duca For one thing, The Palermo Crucible 11 the city population grew rapidly, from , in to , by , and , by —an increase of 73 percent as against 59 percent for Sicily as a whole.
Some of this increase derived from new arrivals: university students and upwardly mobile gentry landowners, the so-called civili, who acquired large estates with the transition from feudalism to capitalism in the countryside. Palermo, however, had to compete for immigrants with America, the preferred destination for casualties of the agrarian crises that capitalism also produced in interior Sicily from the s forward see Schneider and Schneider Whatever its cause, the growing density of population set off a hydraheaded process in the historic center that vexes urban planners to this day.
On the other hand, single-room, single-story dwellings known as catoi were cobbled together to create added space for multiple inhabitants. New construction, mostly in the form of super-elevations on the tops of older buildings, further darkened the narrow streets.
A menacing cholera epidemic in Naples in and another in Palermo in added to the pressure for large-scale projects of risanamento—urban rehabilitation. As in Paris, both housing and monumental structures succumbed to rational planning, but not to the same degree La Duca The embroiled politics surrounding the investigation into these clientelistic deviations from the plan offered a tiny taste of what was to come Cancila The city beyond the walls was also growing, however, absorbing perhaps half of the population increase, according to some estimates ibid.
Consonant with the Paris-inspired principles of openness and light in architecture, and with the Europe-wide aesthetic movement of arts and crafts, or Art Nouveau, the haute bourgeoisie of late nineteenth-century Palermo spearheaded the construction of new villas and palazzi.
Already in , the Florios had built a neo-Gothic Venetian villa, prompting a string of variations on the theme. Its construction was controversial, not only because of the expense to a poor city that many believed should have built a new hospital, but because three monasteries and a densely populated neighborhood had to be razed to make way for it. Here the Florios entertained a succession of cosmopolitan elites: royalty from all over Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Zanzibar, plus the Vanderbilts and Pierpont Morgan from the United States.
Most, indeed, lived in the new zone of gardens and bourgeois amenities known today as Palermo per bene the best Palermo but which we will call, for simplicity, Palermo north. For example, Ernesto Basile, son of the much-praised architect of the Teatro Massimo and himself the designer of the Villa Igea, took up residence there while Giarrusso, author of the Urban Plan, lived in Acquasanta.
All were involved in promoting Palermo as the site of the Fourth National Exhibition in — After , even their clubs moved north. Looking south from the historic center, the picture is somewhat different. Metal products and railroad cars were manufactured before World War II, and after the war, space was increasingly devoted to fabricating and warehousing construction materials.
The years from to were the high point in private construction, followed in the s and s by a greater emphasis on public works see Chubb , — In the same period, an expanding national welfare state made cities attractive as a source of public employment. Palermo, which in became the capital of the new, autonomous Region of Sicily, grew from a citizenry of , in to , in , an increase of 41 percent. Uniquely unhappy events further distorted the postwar construction boom.
More heavily damaged than any other southern Italian city, 70, rooms were lost, leaving nearly , people condemned to live in crowded slums, shantytowns, and even caves ibid. Opulent palazzi were severely affected, so much so that their noble owners, rattled by the pending land reform, abandoned them to leaking roofs and damaged interiors. Vandals removed architectural embellishments from their empty carcasses—statues, columns, fountains, even the plumbing.
Bombing raids had also affected the poor neighborhoods of the historic center. Here precarious buildings, at risk of falling, had either been demolished or were stabilized by densely crisscrossed wooden beams at the level of the upper stories, propping them up against facing structures.
Many middle-class people of Palermo north remember the s as a decade when the orchard you saw out your bedroom window or played in on your way home from school could disappear within days before your very eyes. In one case, near the Via Notarbartolo, a double row of widely spaced palms that once lined the stately entrance to a villa was left standing, only to be intersected, at right angles, by a busy two-way thoroughfare.
Cars using this road must wait their turn to pass between the trees that grow through the asphalt. In the farthest periphery, former rural hamlets are today the commercial centers of new suburbs. Modest owners of the houses and commercial buildings that line their main streets have eagerly sold out to speculative investors who either super-elevate or demolish and begin anew. The resulting mix of shapes and styles overlays a past of architectural coherence.
At the same time, the automobile, multiplying in tandem with the suburban population, has turned these once sleepy village streets into quagmires of congestion. Nor was this the worst of the scempio. The thinking of the s was that the buildings of the historic center should be left to die; eventually they could be leveled to create space for a thoroughly modern, New York—inspired downtown.
City investments in outlying public housing and roads, including a ring road projected in the s, enticed private housing developers to the outskirts, although neither they nor the city provided the necessary infrastructure—gas, water, electricity, transportation, and schools Chubb — Then, in , an earthquake in the Belice Valley south of Palermo shook the old center one more time.
The reaction to the disaster replicated the established pattern: the city would cover more orchards with tracts of public housing and relocate center-city residents rather than attempt to repair their compromised buildings. Numbering , in , the population of the historic center fell to fewer than 40, over the next thirty years Cole Some of the slabs have penetrated the historic center, lighting upon spaces that happened to be cheaply available.
In such an atmosphere, even many native Palermitans got the idea that anything old was unworthy. The Art Nouveau decorative arts were a particular casualty of this attitude. Younger people felt repulsed by them, calling them oppressive and outmoded.
Little imagining their eventual value, they told their parents to throw out Liberty fruitwood furniture and sell their turn-of-the-century apartments for housing that was spanking new. In retrospect, they confess, Prague would have been a better model than New York. But blaming what happened on the power of style—on the desire to be modern—only goes so far.
Their role and the role of the politicians The Palermo Crucible 19 in mutilating the postwar development of Palermo cannot be overstated. This was followed by two summers in the borrowed apartment of another friend. In , we rented a small apartment in the Albergheria quarter of the historic center our home, as well, in the summer of from January until June. Our residence during the summer of was just beyond the old city walls, along the road toward Monreale. Of particular help in pursuing the latter were the principals and teachers of four middle schools, located in the peripheral and more or less troubled neighborhoods of ZEN Zone of Expansion North to the far north, Noce and Uditore to the west, and Falsomiele to the southeast.
From to , and again in , we lived in and studied a rural community of western Sicily, set amid vast latifundia in the mountainous interior. In some ways we are at once outsiders and, ironically, more inside than they are. There are also judicial reports, obtainable through the press, as published books, or from the courts, which contain police and investigative information converging on the pentiti statements. This book, Reversible Destiny, captures our own sense of the depth of transformation that Sicily has witnessed since There is, however, another risk that must also be considered: underestimating the institutional energy and coherence of Sicilian organized crime.
An overview of bandit and criminal formations in other times and places reinforces the central argument about ambiguity. Now feudal privileges were abolished, a land market created, and common lands enclosed, their use diverted from collective pasture to private cultivation. Paralleling these reforms, the Bourbons attempted to impose an administrative hierarchy. In the eighteenth century, they had governed Sicily without provincial capitals, relying instead on extraordinary commissioners dispatched to deal with local elites directly.
Already insubordinate, these elites grew headstrong during the British occupation. As is typically the case when a land market is created, winners and losers appeared. Apart from marrying into noble families and acquiring minor titles, the most effective way for members of this new class to appropriate land—that sine qua non of social worth—was to seize upon the administrative reforms and divert them to private ends. Becoming the appointed mayors, elected councilors, national guardsmen, and tax collectors of their respective rural towns, called comuni, they used these positions to usurp once common holdings and block judicial inquiries into the usurpations.
In fractious competition with each other, they also favored their kin and clients in the distribution of public works contracts and municipal employment, drew up personalized electoral lists so as to keep their enemies out of power, and evaded taxation. Already suffering from oppressive and humiliating class relations under feudalism, peasants saw their situation deteriorate as feudalism was declared at an end.
Well before , police and judicial archives were rife with complaints about rural disorder. At the same time, Sicily, like southern Italy and indeed much of Europe, harbored secret societies, lodges of Freemasons and liberal intellectuals, plotting insurrection against an absolute monarchy—in this case, the Bourbons.
Indeed, the revolutionary turmoil that engulfed much of Europe in , spreading to Latin America, was launched in January from Sicily. Then and in , when they joined up as irregulars following Garibaldi, peasants burned tax records, cut telegraph lines, held up the mail, and attacked outposts of military and police authority. In between they spawned bands that kidnapped landlords, rustled livestock, and preyed on commodities moving through the countryside.
But, she insists, the lines were never clear. Peasant disturbances were island-wide; however, as historian James Fentress emphasizes, in the western provinces they were more violent, more likely to incorporate acts of theft, arson, and homicide 60— In eastern Sicily, large wheat-producing estates occupied the plain of the Simeto River but left both the coast and the higher elevations to the specialized cultivation of orchards, olive groves, and fruit trees on smaller, more intensively exploited holdings.
Dedicated to wheat, they also supported large herds of sheep and cattle, which were driven from pasture to pasture according to season. But taken as a whole, the insurrections consolidated relationships between the rural and urban forces of disorder in the western half of the island. This time, however, the rural contingent would be mobilized by a revolutionary from the Continent, Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose larger project was to draw Sicily into the Risorgimento, the movement to unify Italy.
With an army of about a thousand, Garibaldi landed in Marsala, a small port in the southwest, gathered another three thousand supporters in a march toward Palermo, and entered the city by an unexpected footpath ibid. English and American, French and Piedmontese consuls announced support, and on June 6, , the Bourbons surrendered.
By October, Sicilians were voting a plebiscite to accept the constitution of Piedmont and join the new nation, Italy. The governors whom they dispatched to Sicily connected with the landed classes, Bourbon sympathizers included, dismissing advocates of the common people as unreliable see Mack Smith —41; Riall — After , , hectares of ecclesiastical holdings in Sicily plus 27, hectares of common land were sold at auction to pay off debts incurred by the new nation-state.
As with the Bourbon reforms, local councils administered the land sales. Understandably, the colossal problem of peasant unrest worsened, and with it the confusing mix of criminal and revolutionary activity. As in and , bands and squads descended upon the city from the surrounding mountains, already energized by parallel revolts. Representatives of the new national government declared a state of siege, rounded up alleged instigators for trial in military courts, put suspicious persons under surveillance, exiling vagrants and idlers, and suspended freedoms of association and press.
By , the national capital had been moved to Rome, a location both culturally and geographically closer to the Mezzogiorno. In contrast to the historic right, dominated by the elite state-makers of Piedmont, the historic left grew out of the democratic forces of the Risorgimento, among them a number of southern notables and lawyers such as Crispi Clark 61— In , Depretis was succeeded by Crispi, who, after returning to Palermo from exile in , had joined the national parliament.
He has gone down in history for bungling the colonial project and severely suppressing the revolt, in the aftermath of which Sicilian emigration to America swelled in earnest. And completing a transformation begun by the Bourbons, monasteries and convents were converted to state use as schools and police stations see Schneider and Schneider 70— Now, two sectors—these sulfur mines in south-central Sicily and the vineyards of the westernmost province of Trapani— received a particular boost Schneider and Schneider 69— Land in market gardens and orchards, much of it surrounding Palermo, expanded from less than 8, hectares in to nearly 27, hectares in the early s Bevilacqua 44; Scrofani Until just before World War I, when the suffrage was extended to all adult males, Italy had no mass political parties with the exception of a small but growing Socialist Party.
In the rural towns, civili landowners and notables took unconscionable advantage of this patron-client system. The archival records of Villamaura, a pseudonym for the rural town we studied in the s, offer a vivid picture of the scandals that ensued. Telegrams from the prefect urging restoration of the missing documents were of no help to his opponents, who twice appealed their case in court and lost.
Throughout the period of boss power, which lasted until the installation of tighter state controls under fascism, prefects and subprefects seemed ephemeral. Technically they could annul the deliberations of a local council or junta, point up irregularities in the budget, question new appointments, and order the reinstatement of dismissed personnel. They could require explanations for why a town ignored certain of its debtors but spent vast sums prosecuting others, or indeed why it granted its taxcollecting franchise to crooked contractors who extorted favorable terms by scaring off potential competitors.
The prefects could even propose that the town administration be taken over by the state. Rural towns considered the comparable lapse in resources for policing to be even worse. To restrict animal theft, for example, livestock had to be registered, but mayors authenticated false documents that the rustlers used to market stolen animals. In the end the town councils contracted with private guards, conceding to them the right to collect fees from property holders in exchange for protection against loss or damage ibid.
Nor were the state-supported district police units more convincing. Yet even the most audacious bandits enjoyed the support of kin and neighbors, landed elites and notables, and the police. Nevertheless, after the historic left displaced the right in , a new minister of the interior, Giovanni Nicotera, a leader of the southern left, and Antonio Malusardi, the prefect he appointed in Palermo, undertook to shame Sicilian elites into delivering brigands to the authorities.
As Pezzino has suggested, banditry and its lore were by then endemic aspects of property relations in Sicily, marked as they were by chronic episodes of trespass, abusive grazing, sheep stealing, and crop theft see 55— Property owners resorted for security to these nascent groups, engaging them as estate guards, rentiers, and allaround henchmen. The duplicity did not end here. This relationship could take two forms—favoreggiamento and manutengolismo.
Banditry was less institutionalized. All were loci of intense commercial activity linking Sicily with European and transatlantic markets for fruit and wine see Crisantino ; Fiume ; Lupo ; Pezzino Over several decades, moreover, the rural towns of the orchard zone had sent armed squads into the city to reinforce rebel attacks on the symbols and properties of government.
State investigators of the s, inclined to blur the boundary between crime and insurrection, accused precisely these towns of harboring criminal sects, replete with secret rites of initiation Fentress And perhaps they did. Apparently, some of the brotherhoods that developed after intimidated or sought to eliminate the revolutionary squads of an earlier time ibid. In a study of the Bishopric of Monreale, Amelia Crisantino found that, whatever their provenience, local armed men deployed violence primarily for a different reason.
They wanted to gain monopoly control of the most important local resource, ever more precious as the orchard economy expanded: water for irrigation. Reciprocally, the political patrons, or favoreggiatori, provided access to public resources and a scandalous degree of immunity from criminal prosecution. To understand this, it helps to recognize that the state is not unitary. Witnesses never talked and highly placed magistrates did not want them to Blok 95; Lupo All of which points to a murky moral-political map.
Did they conveniently eliminate annoying rivals? For the most part exponents of the historic left, their position was favored at the national level so long as Crispi was prime minister. In , in , and again in , Parliament raised the wheat tariff. When state authorities appointed by the historic right accused the Florios of being steeped in vile and cowardly relations with criminals, it only provoked the counteraccusation that, having failed to guarantee the elementary rights of Sicilians, these authorities were wrongly criminalizing persons who happened to be their political enemies and who were victims, not perpetrators, of extortion and intimidation Lupo Between and perhaps as many as , day laborers, sharecroppers, artisans, and students, women and children among them, joined the revolutionary squads called fasci the word means bundle or sheaf, as in a sheaf of wheat in the cities and rural towns of primarily western Sicily.
On January 3, , shortly after returning to power, Crispi declared a state of emergency, ordered the dissolution of the fasci, and sent a royal commissioner to Sicily to oversee the trial of their leaders in a military tribunal. More than a thousand presumed activists were deported and the Socialist Party dissolved on the national level see Clark —3; Santino 43, 77— Not surprisingly, authorities of both the left and the right claimed that the fasci were a haven for criminals and delinquents.
With a few exceptions, however, local histories suggest a growing divergence between peasant insurrection and organized crime by this time. Sicilian sociologist, statistician, and political leader Napoleone Colajanni, himself involved in the Palermo fascio, was decisive about this in his turn-of-thecentury writings. To proclaim otherwise was to obscure the real issues— landlessness, oppressive taxes, and immiseration—that motivated the fasci revolt see ibid.
Shortly thereafter, however, Giolitti replaced Crispi as prime minister. Restoring the open-market position of the historic right, the new government sent a special envoy to investigate the bank. This led in to a retrial in Florence that 38 The Genesis of the Mafia absolved Palizzolo of responsibility for the killing. Headed by the Prince of Camporeale, it sponsored the erection of a bronze bust of Notarbartolo that, together with the avenue that bears his name, still commemorates his courage in Palermo see Lupo ; Notarbartolo Members supported politicians in local elections and received protection from them, but they organized their own, inter-cosca relations more or less independently of this political shield.
At times these relations reached the level of a coordinated federation, although the individual cosche remained strongly territorial in orientation, specializing in guarding property and crops and in the control and distribution of water for irrigation. And individual cosca members engaged in commercial mediation, above all of orchard produce. In contrast, the cosche of the south and east appeared less coherent. Much of this zone was also given over to orchards and gardens, but these were interspersed with large towns—rural towns of the sort that characterize the latifundist interior.
Moreover, the entire zone was a gateway to the interior, the main pathway over which rustlers and bandits drove stolen livestock for clandestine butchering and sale in Palermo. While laying out these differences, Lupo warns against exaggerating them. Crimes that were typical of one zone were also found in the other ibid.
One was explicitly racist: all Sicilians are delinquenti at heart. Lacking capitalist industries and colonies, Italy compared unfavorably to Britain, they argued, attributing the gap to a compromised biology.
We will encounter it again in later chapters. A best seller, it attracted a readership in all social classes from the aristocracy to the illiterate peasants, who heard others read it aloud. I Beati Paoli narrates the adventures of an eighteenth-century Palermitan secret society whose members were giustizieri—literally, carriers of justice.
Here they staged trials of evil persons, pronounced them guilty, and dispatched some of their number to execute punishment, including death. Honest common folk of Palermo adopted this abandoned child, knowing nothing of his noble origins. The intervention of the Beati Paoli on his behalf constitutes the central act of retributive justice in the novel.
Locating the novel in a genre of popular romances such as The Three Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas, Eco further draws our attention to its powerful images of unfair dealings, not only between the brothers of the ducal house, but also between the aristocracy and the commoners. Just as the Beati Paoli could right the wrongs that an evil duke perpetrated against his disinherited nephew, so they could intervene, piecemeal, on behalf of the dominated classes.
The novel, indeed, makes explicit that the Beati Paoli came from all ranks of society, their individual status dissolving in uniform costumes and unifying rituals. Acting without recourse to interested parties, representing no particular class interest, the Beati Paoli arrive at fair and impartial sentences under the tutelage of spiritual forces. Because at times their sentences sustain the poor against the rich, the oppressed against their oppressors, the weak against the strong, Eco is moved to draw a comparison with socialism, which, in the two decades before the Natoli serial appeared, had spread widely and been suppressed in Sicily.
The comparison is instructive. In depicting the Beati Paoli as ministers of justice, Natoli went to some lengths to minimize their possible interest in accumulating wealth or power. To the contrary, his narrative passes over other, already existing legends about the sect, removing precisely the element of personal gain. There are, it turns out, several nineteenth-century stories, plays, and diary entries from which to construct an image of the Blessed Paulists as cutthroat murderers acting for their own advantage rather than as altruistic and just executioners.
And no wonder, given their histories. The reason is hardly obscure. People resent being dislodged from the resources that form the basis of their livelihood and may take up arms to vindicate this wrong, above all if demobilized soldiers are part of their universe or arms are otherwise available.
So do urban gangs, whose members share a similar trajectory of economic marginalization. Far from being romantic heroes, Blok argued, bandits preyed on peasants as well as landlords Blok ; Hobsbawm [responding] A third, more complicated understanding was pursued by Ranajit Guha in his study of peasant insurgency in colonial India. Here we see that what bandits do is inconstant; they can be Robin Hoods in one time or place and terrorists in another.
Most important, the meanings of their actions depend upon who is speaking. Whereas peasant observers might think of them as mythic champions of justice, to those with property and state power they are dangerous, a threat to public order.
A concern raised by this otherwise compelling approach is how little scope it allows for the actuality of organized crime as a vital social force in its own right. Newspaper accounts and letters of the time claimed that the blackened poachers took secret oaths, were organized into a confederacy, and swore loyalty to a quasi-monarchical organization headed by a king [! How else would the winners shelter their gain from the grasping and sometimes violent losers? In other words, although criminalized, organized crime groups take pride in charting the means to a reproducible livelihood through crime.
If anything, time in prison serves to enhance their skills and deepen their traditions. To operate in this fashion, they have to be entrepreneurial, opportunistic, aggressive, capable of violence. As such they share with bandits both a preparedness to murder, if necessary, and a sensitivity to retributive justice. Rural towns in the western provinces, and the neighborhoods of the western cities, have generally harbored one such group—two if its factions were unable to coexist.
On the other hand, there really are mafiosi—men wielding power through the systematic use of private violence. In the s, there was also widespread skepticism that initiation rites existed. By returning, which perhaps a third did, and by remitting wages, the migrants enabled their kinfolk in Sicily to acquire small parcels of land and enhance their standard of living.
Rekindling the peasant movement was impossible under fascism, but frustrated claims to land and a decent life continued to simmer below the surface. Viewing organized crime as a competing system of power and a source of unauthorized violence, Mussolini empowered his Palermo prefect, Mori, a veteran of other Sicilian administrative posts, to devise measures to eliminate it.
Before invading Sicily, the Allied forces had only very general information about the island, much of it outdated Mangiameli If the contrabandists and grain thieves continued to disrupt the system of rationing inherited from the fascists, starving people might riot. In addition, U. Beside the two largest—the Christian Democrats and the Communists—the list included Socialists and Social Democrats, Republicans and Liberals, remnant fascists and monarchists.
Over the nearly half century of its existence, the First Republic saw governments rise and fall, form and re-form, but in each case, the new prime minister and cabinet were drawn from an alliance of these parties that pivoted around the DC, with the Communists excluded. When convictions were obtained, they were often overturned or the sentences reduced on appeal.
Twelve were killed and thirty-three wounded, yet relevant investigations were not pursued. Never having had a genuine popular base, after the assassination of Giuliano, the separatist movement dissolved, its major backers allying themselves with the Christian Democratic Party. Sicily was, however, one of only three Italian regions granted autonomy with its own president and parliament in The separatists were not alone to disappear.
By , events like Portella della Ginestra had derailed the possibility of a broad, antifascist or popular front, leaving the DC-led Italian government to respond to peasant distress in a more limited way. Only abandoned and poorly cultivated large estates were targeted for division under a land reform that also advanced cheap credit for the purchase of agricultural machinery.
In the twenty years between and , more than a million people, out of a population of 4. The result was the re-emergence in Palermo of the prefascist system of continuous and organic exchanges between organized crime and members of the local and regional political class della Porta and Vannucci The most notorious of the newcomers, Vito Ciancimino and Salvo Lima, were of modest background but had good connections. When Lima, having been the commissioner of public works, became the mayor in , Ciancimino took over the Public Works Department.
Another insider was Francesco Vassallo, who began his adult life as a cart driver hauling sand and stone in a borgata suburb northwest of Palermo. Helped by easy credit from friendly banks, he became a major builder of private housing after and, along with his banker allies, reaped a huge windfall from rising real estate values. Of course, such personages mobilized electoral support for Ciancimino and Lima.
Others were invested in the extension of roads, water, sewage, and electricity to new neighborhoods, often not in time for occupancy but driving up land values nonetheless. Giulio Andreotti and Salvo Lima in the s. Surely the old guard disdained these upstarts, even as they abandoned their antique residences for modern apartments themselves.
Recent depositions of the justice collaborators suggest there were several sites where these diverse elements could interact, among them the masonic lodges. Between and , the number of bank teller counters multiplied in Sicily by percent, compared to a national increase of 64 percent Santino The old Palermo, the baronial Palermo, was on a cultural continuum with interior towns like Corleone. Weapons are surely the instrument that makes this so.
Communities in both directions were further torn by intracosca rivalries that elevated young, militant, and aggressive risk takers to leadership positions. The most important example was Corleone where a politically well-connected physician, Michele Navarra, took charge of the local cosca at the end of the War.
Both Navarra and Liggio were connected to the murder of the socialist trade union leader and advocate for agrarian reform, Placido Rizzotto, whose body was found in March, , near Busambra Rock, an outcropping above the town with the sinister history of concealing the skeletons of humans as well as sheep. An 11 year-old shepherd boy, Giuseppe Letizia, came forward to report that he had seen a man being hanged there. Navarra, who is reported to have given him an injection from which he died Chilanti and Farinella 44; Lupo ; Pantaleone Liggio was subsequently tried for killing Rizzotto as well as for several other assassinations, but not convicted of any of them, his apparent immunity before the bar enhancing his prestige Pezzino — The convergence of interests between Navarra and Liggio was to be short-lived.
With the Agrarian Reform, Navarra and his friends were upset by the construction of a dam and irrigation system that threatened their monopoly over artesian wells, whereas Liggio, in a position to sell construction materials and truck them to the dam site, supported it ibid. Reciprocal killings continued until Chilanti and Farinella , during which time Liggio disappeared, having been condemned for the Navarra murders.
Only one buyer stepped forward. For the Acquasanta cosca to exert the expected territorial control, it had to prevent the Ciaculli bosses from reconstituting their prior domination of the market by anticipating payments to growers. Francesco Greco, a major Ciaculli wholesaler of fruit and vegetables, died in this skirmish. Presaging the eventual takeover of Palermo by the bosses to the south and east, however, the Acquasanta cosca lost two of its capi in rapid succession, and a third was then murdered in Como in northern Italy.
There is also to consider the urban and suburban cosche of the north and west, for which the construction boom of the postwar years was pivotal. In the northwestern borgata of Partanna-Mondello, for example, the sons of an itinerant charcoal burner and vendor, Angelo and Salvatore La Barbera, were on the move, bent on transcending the indignities of their poverty. Well positioned to participate in the frenzied expansion of Palermo, by Angelo had become the vice-capo and de facto head of the Palermo Centro cosca.
Still in his thirties, Angelo La Barbera began acting like a man of affairs, acquiring bulldozers, trucks, and other construction equipment as well as apartment buildings. Generous and charming, he assumed the life style of a Chicago gangster of the s, with new cars, luxurious clothes, and frequent visits to Milan and Rome, where he stayed in the best hotels, surrounded by beautiful women.
This is not to say that these families were disinterested in drugs. More to the point, the syndicates that organized transatlantic shipments of heroin were self-consciously inclusive. For one thing, the Commission was provincial, not Sicilywide.
Representing the province of Palermo, it left out families from the Trapani towns whose Sicilian-American connections were well developed. Cross-cosca murders also required Commission approval, although cosca chiefs could authorize intra-cosca acts of violence in their own territories Paoli Angelo La Barbera, the ambitious and glitzy boss of the Palermo Centro cosca, refused to recognize its authority altogether.
Suspicion fell on Di Pisa and Anselmo. Called before a special meeting of the Commission, they successfully pleaded their innocence, but the La Barbera brothers remained unconvinced almost certainly because Di Pisa was a rival in the construction business, being close to the contractor, Moncada.
Salvatore disappeared in January his burned out car was discovered a few days later in the province of Agrigento [Barrese ]. He escaped both but was killed in prison in ibid. The pentito Buscetta has offered a yet more convoluted version of these events. Cavataio then participated, along with Buscetta and another Acquasanta capo, in several car bomb attacks on the Grecos and their allies, considered enemies because of their intrusion in the wholesale produce market see Pezzino — Reconstituting the northern-western alliance after the demise of the La Barberas, he mobilized support from Badalamenti and from Giuseppe Inzerillo of Uditore and his up-and-coming son, Salvatore, of the neighboring borgata The Mafia and the Cold War 67 of Passo di Rigano.
Still attempting a balance of forces, the Commission was reinstated under the joint leadership of Badalamenti and Luciano Liggio of Corleone. Another Commission leader was Stefano Bontade. But the apparent, fragile harmony was to be short lived. As was regularly the case with expanding opportunities, the new resource did not take the edge off existing quarrels; on the contrary, it worsened them. Maneuvering to prevent Badalamenti and his allies from monopolizing key positions on the newly reconstituted Commission, they strategized to raise the capital needed to become major narco-players on their own.
Not only were the targets rich men, they 68 The Mafia and the Cold War were construction impresarios who were closely allied to the northernwestern alliance. Although initially friendly with all sides, he eventually gravitated toward Riina. Brusca himself, a young man at the time, was recruited to the group of six, led by Riina and his Corleonese brother-in-law Leoluca Bagarella, that assassinated Colonel Russo.
Di Cristina was a close friend of the Bontades and Inzerillos, and his murder, also without prior warning to the Commission members, took place while he was visiting Salvatore Inzerillo in Palermo. Outright bribes and threats took the place of the earlier reciprocities. In , without warning those Commission members who were out of the loop, the Corleonesi killed Boris Giuliano, a police captain who was tracking the new heroin laboratories.
Again, the point was not simply to remove inconvenient obstacles to 70 The Mafia and the Cold War the free play of criminal activity. The ascendant Corleonesi, authors of the great majority of these killings, contrived to commit several of them in the territories of their rivals so as to focus the predictable heat of the criminal justice apparatus on them.
The provocation was enormous. One spectacular instance of such duplicity concerns Rosario Riccobono of San Lorenzo, a borgata northwest of Palermo. Eventually Riina set out to eliminate those members of rival cosche who earlier had helped him on the grounds that, having demonstrated their capacity to betray a former leader on his behalf , they might now betray him as well.
Allies of Riina decimated the investigative arm of the police, the Squadra Mobile see chapter 6. All of which pointed to the crisis years of — In , the Cassazione Supreme Court upheld a majority of the maxi convictions. Signaling their keen sense of betrayal, the Corleonesi immediately murdered their former protector, Salvo Lima, and a few months later the tax collector, Ignazio Salvo.
Two bomb blasts intended to destroy artistic monuments, one in Rome and the other in Florence, followed in May , as did bombings in Rome and Milan in July we return to these events in chapter 6. The undisputed head of the Provincial Commission and of a new Regional Commission during these acts of terrorism, Riina called the cupola into session ever less frequently, making key decisions about violence in consultation with a shrinking circle of collaborators.
As Paoli notes, in he ordered the tragic death of Falcone with another Corleone boss, Bernardo Provenzano, as his only sounding board and Provenzano did not agree! And to what end? The following pages attempt to reconstruct what is now known about this extraordinary aspect of the Cold War decades.
As the organized crime groups of southern Italy and Sicily were nurturing their relationship with the Christian Democratic Party after World War II, nuclei of former fascists, secret service operatives, and military personnel were weaving a different, but eventually overlapping, Cold War structure of power in the north.
Agostino Cordova, an investigating magistrate in Palmi, Calabria, has conducted an exhaustive study of a rash of terrorist acts from to , as well as of the bombing of the Bologna railroad station in in which 85 people died and were wounded. Can other terrorist bombings taking place between and be attributed to the occult network of coup plotters outlined above?
Italy harbors a rich array of secretive organizations whose legal status was won—and lost, then won again—in the course of an historic struggle. For example, the historic right of the late nineteenth century banned the religious fraternity of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, but the organization is now sanctioned as a prestigious meeting ground for right-wing Catholics. But of all Italian secret societies, Freemasonry is the most important.
Masonic lodges persisted, however, playing a critical role in the Risorgimento. They were then persecuted by Mussolini, with masons sympathetic to the fascist regime voluntarily giving up membership. Apparently, the plotters of the coup—the so-called Borghese Coup—forged their anticommunist alliance by transforming certain masonic lodges into meeting places for a more diverse than usual representation of elites, including some skilled in the use of violence.
Gelli was prodigious at enrolling like-minded men of the military, the police, and the secret services, as well as highly placed personages in government, business, and the professions De Lutiis — A police raid of his Arezzo villa in March uncovered a list that included several such members and evidence that the lodge had developed a so-called strategy of tension during the s, aimed at using systematic blackmail, bribes, promises of advancement, and intimidation to displace left-of-center forces from the government Nicastro Calderone says the same, but from a different angle.
His relative, Antonino Cottone of Villabate, was a member of another lodge, the Lux, from until As the Corleonesi gained ascendancy in the s, Riina engaged a Palermitan, Pino Mandalari, as his accountant and business advisor.
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