Stopped on the street by a clan “debt collector”, a Palermo merchant secretly resumes the request for lace on his mobile phone. And the extortor shows a sheet: “Look at these: they are Falcone and Borsellino, killed by Cosa Nostra, you should be ashamed”, he apostrophes. An unthinkable gesture until a few years ago in a neighborhood like Borgo Vecchio, which is widely controlled by the bosses. It is the sign that rebelling is possible. “In Palermo, some traders have fought the fear of extortion and mafia violence with the courage to report – writes Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on social media -. I can’t wait to fly to Palermo to meet them and thank them one by one. With them Italy raises its head ».
The latest investigation by the DDA of the capital, which yesterday led to the arrest of 20 people, actually tells of a different city: out of 20 extortions discovered by the carabinieri, 14 were spontaneously reported by the victims and 5 were confirmed by the traders called to testify in the barracks. An absolute novelty that undermines the mafia system of lace, managed at the Borgo Vecchio under the supervision of the mafia boss Angelo Monti, in his cell until three years ago. The wiretapping shows how many extortionists are increasingly reluctant to ask for money and prefer other criminal activities deemed safer and more profitable such as robberies. The investigators then ascertained relations between the Palermo supporters and the Cosa Nostra, which has always shown interest in avoiding conflicts between groups of rival ultras that could have caused a decrease in spectators at the stadium.
“It is a turning point that must be declared and celebrated. We truly consider it a qualitative leap in relations with entrepreneurs and retailers, those who are subjected to the action of Cosa Nostra in the area ». He is particularly pleased with the general Arturo Guarino, provincial commander of Palermo of the Carabinieri. He explains that his men have hit the affairs of the Borgo Vecchio mafia family in the Porta nuiva district. “Classic activities of mafia control of the territory ranging from drug trafficking to extortion and the support of detainees, even with forms of mediation between football fans and with the control of local festivals”. But above all he is keen to «thank those entrepreneurs who have trusted us. Many spontaneously came to denounce the facts, they put their face on it and we have protected them. This is the message we want to give to the city. Enough of the pizzo, thanks to you entrepreneurs who have trusted the Arma, thanks to the anti-racket associations that have collaborated. We are alongside those who report ».
General, has confidence in you increased then? Yet it is not the first time that you have hit the mafia business of extortion.
It is not the first time that we have done this kind of operations but on this occasion there was a particular trust in the investigators. A voluntary trust, not stimulated by us. And this is a very significant aspect that is coupled with the obvious weakness of “Cosa Nostra” in violently affirming its presence in the area.
Isn’t “Cosa Nostra” scary anymore?
It is no longer the fear it used to be. So the positive spiral we had hoped for started. Thanks to our action and the DDA, and also the anti-racket associations that do a great job in the area, there is now a relationship of trust and above all of protection of people. Which is what people ask of us: to be defended and protected when they rely on investigators.
It is the best way to remember Libero Grassi who was killed 29 years ago for his “no” to pizzo but also because he was left alone. At that time the fear was great and no one collaborated.
Libero Grassi had the courage as very few could do, to denounce what could have had far more serious consequences. Today, however, the strength is the mass, the awareness of not being alone, of being more protected and of being different to make this choice. So we hope that there will be more and more because the more they turn to us, the more naturally the mafia “counterpart” is in difficulty because we remove the floating basin.
But the mafia still try. However they try to make themselves heard. As your investigation shows, they continue to ask for protection money, to threaten, to damage.
The need to control the ward, the neighborhood for them is a vital, historical necessity. Even if they have other forms of livelihood, that of requesting protection money is part of that form of recognition of the local society which is one of the traditions of “Cosa Nostra”. And that’s where we need to step in to stop the flow.
Therefore, lace is not just an economic issue.
I repeat, they have many other forms of financing. The lace instead has a function of recognition of their social function in the area, of being “someone” in the neighborhood where each “family” exercises its mafia authority.
A particularly important role in this phase of economic difficulty, in which they present themselves to “help” and create consensus.
They present themselves with a less violent face but in any case they have not stopped declaring their violence because everyone knows who they are in the area and always confides in this historical presence that intimidates even without practicing violence.
It is therefore essential to be alongside the victims.
It is the sensitivity that we are developing and we see that it pays a lot. Show us close to the victims of the mafia and give concrete demonstration of support, even psychological, to those who suffer from mafia violence, then becomes a driving force for efficiency and safety of people, because of course the rumors circulate in trade associations and this is very important.