Crime and Corona: Why the Mafia is a big beneficiary of the pandemic – culture

In addition to the super-rich and their booming corporations à la Amazon, there is another winner of the corona crisis. The Mafia. With its four Italian sub-companies, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria, the Neapolitan Camorra and the Sacra Corona (!) From Apulia, the mafia would be one of the largest corporations in Europe. Super rich, even without the North and South American sisters or Russian brothers, without the business relationships in Thailand, China or Japan.

Above all, the mafia has cash in the nine to ten digits. In other words, about money that is lacking in countries like Italy and Spain in the crisis given the EU aid fund currently blocked by Hungary and Poland. Money that must also be invested and laundered in the legal economic cycle in order not to remain dead capital.

With the upcoming Brexit, the issue is becoming even more explosive. Roberto Saviano, the Italian researcher and bestselling author who is still persecuted by the Camorra, has already described the previous international financial center of London as the “largest money laundering facility in the world”.

Now, however, financial flows of all kinds are not only flowing to Panama, but also to Luxembourg and Frankfurt am Main. Likewise, as connoisseurs suspect, in somewhat smaller but regular tranches on accounts with banks that appear less suspicious, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia or Saxony.

In view of the youth unemployment in the Mediterranean countries (often more than 40 percent) and thus one of the greatest threats to Europe in the near future, mafia entrepreneurs are attracting young people, especially in southern Italy. Sometimes with legal jobs, then with criminal assignments.

Spaghetti with gun

And while in the past, bizarre motorway bridges jutting out into the landscape like concrete skeletons without a road connection testified to the amalgamation between corrupt taxpayers’ money and construction mafia, the Italian traveler in the Corona year 2020 is amazed that construction projects are now being resurrected across the country since the financial crisis ten years ago seemed buried. Suddenly, money laundering is more visible than it has been in a long time.

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Nevertheless, there is of course a completely different Italy. People who are outraged when a plate of spaghetti with bloody tomato sauce and a pistol placed on it is served on a “Spiegel” title about Italy. Or when the Prime Minister of the Netherlands expresses his suspicion in the summer that EU aid from Brussels would only subsidize Italy’s mafia.

Life is risking

Conversely, Italian mayors, police officers, lawyers or even artists and journalists, who often risk their lives in their fight against the mafia, repeatedly point out that the EU and especially Germany, because of their data protection laws, allow cross-border prosecution of people and financial transactions of organized crime disabled.

[Italienisches Kulturinstitut, Hildebrandstraße 2. Informationen zu „Planet Mafia“ auf der Website]

It is a conflict that a remarkable series of programs by the Italian Cultural Institute in Berlin is now also addressing. “Planet Mafia” is the name of the company that, with lectures and discussions, can only be experienced via stream on the Internet until the beginning of December. But a centerpiece, the exhibition of pictures by the legendary Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia, will remain on the walls of the cultural institute in the house of the Italian embassy at Berlin’s Tiergarten until at least the end of March 2021.

Roberto Saviano’s warnings

First of all, Maria Carolina Foi, who has been the director of the institute since June as the successor to the literary scholar Luigi Reitani, emphasizes in an interview that the title “Planet Mafia” deliberately aims at “the global dimension of organized crime”. Last but not least, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. “Roberto Saviano warned against this from the start, and we are taking this into account.”

This Thursday evening will also be discussed in the institute’s event with Francesco Forgione, the former President of the parliamentary anti-mafia commission in Rome, on the subject of “Expansion of the Mafia in Europe” (from 7 pm via Zoom). The hope for a vaccine soon has already aroused the desire of the mafia to participate in the billion dollar business by means of bribery and covert participation.

Italy calls Germany

“Planet Mafia”, the particularly ambitious project of a foreign cultural institute in Germany, will be continued with events such as “The fight against the Mafia”. Italy calls Germany ”(November 26th) and“ The anti-mafia movement – who knows, can act ”(December 3rd): with the Milanese sociologist, ex-senator, newspaper publisher and expert on organized crime Nando dalla Chiesa as well as representatives of international associations to combat the Mafia.

Nando dalla Chiesa is the son of the police general Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa, who was murdered by the Cosa Nostra in Palermo in 1982. He accompanies the “Planet Mafia” program and at the end of October had an impressive conversation with Letizia Battaglia, now 85, who lives in Rome, which will soon be available as a video on the institute’s website.

Battaglia, who as a young photographer in Sicily has brought to mind countless victims and perpetrators of the Mafia in sometimes dramatic, dramatic accusatory images, is also popular with a larger audience in this country, not least because of the documentary “Shooting the Mafia” shown at the Berlinale in 2019 known.

Shocking and moving

The committed cultural institute director Maria Carolina Foi studied law and literature herself and, as a student of Claudio Magris, is a Germanist at the University of Trieste.

Her focus is on the relationship between law, crime, society and culture. Letizia Battaglia’s more than 40 brilliant photographs, which one would wish a large public for after a lockdown, also look like a reflection of these topics.

The pictures are as startling as they are poignant because of their ruthlessness and their noticeable empathy, even in the face of the murdered. Because of the courage, presence of mind, and the eye behind the camera. It’s not just views of the Italian planet.

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