Does the mafia still have political connections?
The origins of the mafia
Mafia - today this term stands for organized crime worldwide, for extortion, drug trafficking and murder. The origins of the Italian mafia are believed to be in Sicily, where it is said to have originated in the mid-19th century.
It is believed that the Mafioso type emerged from the so-called "Gabelloti" class: The Gabelloti leased land from large landowners and then leased it to local farmers. As guards and overseers, they ensured security on the plantations, but at the same time forced the farmers to hand over the "pizzu", part of their harvest. It was the first form of protection money payment.
The Gabelloti became more and more powerful in the course of time, took on police duties and provided their own protection troops. They secured their power through threats of violence. Little by little, a criminal network emerged that is said to have spilled over from Sicily to the other regions of southern Italy.
The "honorable society"
After the unification of Italy in 1861, Rome's laws also applied to Sicily. These innovations included, for example, the tax system and general conscription.
The Sicilians were not very enthusiastic about this new situation. Probably the centuries-long and constantly changing foreign rule had also led to the fact that the inhabitants mistrusted any new authority.
Instead of going to the institutions of the Italian state, they turned to the Gabelloti. Over time, the Gabelloti system developed into a kind of shadow government called "onorata società" - the "honorable society".
Faithful to death
The mafia still cultivates the myth of being a kind of fighter for independence - even if it has always suppressed people with violence and did not shy away from murder.
Their top priority and a guarantee of their power was compliance with "omertà", the law of silence. In a bloody acceptance ritual, newcomers to the organization swear their loyalty to the point of death. To this day, anyone who breaks omertà has forfeited his life.
A state within a state
The main goal of the mafia has always been to gain money and power. In order to achieve this goal, she sought to be close to influential politicians. All too often she has understood how to penetrate the highest levels of politics. The heads of state Giulio Andreotti and Silvio Berlusconi were also alleged to be involved with the Mafia, but they were acquitted.
The links to politics were easier, the weaker and more corrupt the state was. Immediately after the introduction of universal suffrage in 1881, the mafia obtained the necessary votes for conservative politicians.
In return, the elected MPs prevented laws aimed at combating the criminal organization. Mafia and politics grew closer together. That is why the mafia is also referred to as a state within a state.
The "Duce" against the Mafia
Only the fascist regime under Benito Mussolini almost succeeded in eliminating the mafia. The "Duce" had sent the "iron prefect" Cesare Mori to Sicily.
This man took every means of an authoritarian state against organized crime: he had thousands arrested - often wrongly suspects and often without trial. But even Mussolini's campaign against organized crime could not wipe out the "honorable society".
Revival of the Mafia
In 1943 the Mafia committed to support the Allied invasion of Sicily. This enabled her to expand her influence on the island and on the Italian mainland.
In addition, the Sicilian Mafia expanded its contacts in the USA after the Second World War and thus secured a position of supremacy in the international drug trade. The mafia organizations Camorra in and around Naples and the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria also quickly regained power and influence after the war.
Clan war for power
In addition to the growing drug trade, the Mafia increasingly controlled the award of public contracts after 1945, earned money in the construction business and diverted development funds from the state. The gigantic profits led to wars between the individual mafia clans.
Above all, the brutal power struggle between the families from Palermo and a clan from the Sicilian town of Corleone became known. More than 300 people were cruelly executed. The notorious Corleonesi finally gained the upper hand with their boss Salvatore Riina, who was also called "the beast".
In the fight against the mafia
After this clan war, the Italian prosecutors went on the offensive: An anti-mafia law from 1982 made mere membership of the mafia a criminal offense. To this end, an anti-mafia commission was set up to fight organized crime more effectively.
A huge blow in the fight against the Mafia came in 1986: The Mafia boss Tommaso Buscetta broke his silence. In his extensive confession, he revealed the machinations of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, which led to numerous high-ranking mafiosi appearing in court. In the maxi trials that followed, several hundred mafiosi were sentenced to long prison terms.
The revenge of the Mafia was not long in coming: several investigating judges were cruelly executed in the 1990s, including Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who fell victim to brutal attacks in 1992. Salvatore Riina is said to have been the mastermind behind the murders. In 1993 a special detachment from the Carabinieri succeeded in arresting the "boss of the bosses" in Palermo.
The business of the mafia today
Even if one of their bosses is arrested again and again, the power of the Italian mafia has remained unbroken to this day. Its annual turnover is estimated at 90 billion euros - that would make the Mafia the most successful company in Italy.
Their main income comes from extortion, drug and arms trafficking, counterfeit branded goods, construction, illegal dumping of toxic waste and the diversion of government development funds. She has invested her criminally generated money profitably worldwide.
The mafia operates internationally today, and in Germany it is more active than ever. Since the murders in Duisburg in August 2007 at the latest, we have suddenly become aware of this fact.
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