i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 11

the plural—is very important. First because,
although we have talked about the Italian
and Sicilian Mafia, showing that organized
crime is not just something that belongs
to Italians provides a better understanding
of the Mafia and does a great service to
the Italian-American community. Second
because, as Italy’s former Interior Minister
Vincenzo Scotti said in his talk at the
Conference, “The only way to fight the Mafia
is to fight it globally rather than locally.”
There also were some negative reactions
from members of the Italian-American
community who objected even to the idea
of having this conference.
When we sent out our call for papers
in May of last year there were a number of
people including scholars and colleagues
of ours who began to circulate complaints
about the very idea of having such a
conference, given the predominance of
organized crime and Mafia in Italian-
American imagery in the media. It is
a foolish idea that scholars should be
censoring themselves! On the contrary,
I believe we should be looking at this
subject with all the serious rigor and
interdisciplinary background that we
have. There is a notion that ethnic studies
should only promote the positive. I disagree
with that idea. How else to unpack those
negative stereotypical images if not by
treating them seriously? A number of
scholars here looked at the emergence of
the negative image of Italian Americans
coupled with organized crime. They
documented it and so we learned from that.
And to not have such scholarship presented
publicly would be a travesty.
June-July 2014
A long time ago, when I was a
member of the American Italian Historical
Association [now the Italian American
Studies Association] someone came up
with the idea of having a conference on the
Mafia. And there was a great professor, Peter
, who said, “We
are historians, can’t we just forget about
the past?” It was the funniest thing I ever
heard in my life. But he was dead serious.
Academics at that time did not want to talk
about the Mafia. Many people were just
afraid. Every time the subject of having a
conference on Mafia came up the reaction
was: “That would be our last conference.
The only conference we could have after it
would be a conference on death. Because
they’d kill us!”
Do you feel that Italian-American scholars
are in a better position than others to
investigate this topic?
Yes, absolutely. Because we focus on
Italian-American culture, we are in contact
with a number of scholars who deal with
Italian-American history and culture. So
we’re in a unique position to bring to the fore
all this amazing scholarly work being done.
For me there is also a personal
dimension to this. I was born in the streets,
I became an academic because I wanted
to educate the streets, I wanted to go back
to the streets and tell themwhat I learned.
But I also wanted to bring my experiences
Memories of Italy’s former InteriorMinister
wenty years after the assassinations of Sicilian anti-Mafia
judges Falcone and Borsellino, the presence of organized
crime continues to be strong, its influence on civil and political
life increasinglymore evident,andmanyareas of southern Italy
remain under the grip of Mafia clans.In his book
PaxMafiosa or
published inEnglishby Bordighera Press and Eurilink (the
publishing house of Rome’s LinkCampusUniversity),Vincenzo
Scotti explains what he did and what he learned during his
years as Italy’s Interior Minister in the early Nineties.
aying out the facts objectively, through documents, studies,
and eyewitness accounts, he finds that in the newworld or-
der this formof organized crime has succeeded in establishing
links with other Mafia-type organizations that have modified
their means of operating to more closely resemble the Sicil-
ian Mafia. Their operations extend to terrorist activities and
arms and drug trafficking. Laundering proceeds from criminal
activities has created an expanding gray area, where the line
between legality and criminality is blurred and interference has become increasingly violent.
ince Italy’s unification, Scotti reflects, the Italian Government’s strategy against the Mafia
has oscillatedbetweenpeaceful co-existence and all-outwar.The former refers to attempts
apparentlymade by government officials to bargainwith theMafia,a subject of growing debate
in Italy in light of recent judiciary investigation. This involves looking at the Mafia as a purely
criminal phenomenon. Whereas launching a “war” against the Mafia means recognizing the
“state nature” of Mafia power and its extreme political dangerousness. The goal of the war is
to destroy “Cosa Nostra” and uproot Mafia culture embedded in large swaths of Italy and no
longer confined to the South.
Twenty Years after the Palermo Massacres
Vincenzo Scotti
BordigheraPress •eurilink
BordigheraPress • eurlink
Years have passed since theCapaci and Via d’Ameliomassacres,where the
Sicilian judgesFalconeandBorsellinowerebrutallyassassinatedby theMafia.
The presence of theMafia continues to be strong, its influence on civil and
political life increasingly more evident, and many areas of the southern Italy
remain under the grip ofMafia clans. In the new world order, this form of or-
ganized crime has even succeeded in establishing linkswith otherMafia-type
organizations, which havemodified theirmeans of operating tomore closely
resemble theSicilianMafia.TheseMafiaoperationsare interwovenwith terror-
istactivities,andarmsandnarco-trafficking.Themoney launderingofproceeds
fromcriminalactivitieshascreatedanexpanding “grayarea”,where the linebe-
tween legality and criminality is blurred and interference has become increas-
ingly violent.
Since unification, the ItalianGovernment’s strategy against theMafia has
oscillated between “co-existence” and “war,” the latter aimed at destroying
“Cosa Nostra” and uprooting the widespreadMafia culture embedded in vast
areasof southern Italy– the
Therehasbeengrowingdebate recentlyonwhether,at thebeginningof the
90’s and at the height of the “war” against theMafia, attemptsweremade by
government officials to actually bargainwith theMafia. In light of new judiciary
investigations, the issueof the rapportbetween theMafiaandpoliticshascome
to the fore onceagain.
In thisbook,VincenzoScotti,whowasoneof thekey Italianpolitical figures
at the timeof theMafiamassacres,attempts toexplainwhathe knewandwhat
hedid in fulfillinghispolitical role,settingout the factsobjectively throughdocu-
ments, studies, andobservationspertaining specifically to that period.
c ttI
cum laude
in lawandhasheldnumerouspresti-
giousgovernmentpositionsover the years.They include:Memberof theParliament;Deputy
Secretary of theCristianDemocratic Party and Speaker of the parliamentary group for the
ChristianDemocrats in theCamera deiDeputati;Undersecretary ofState at theMinistry of
Finance;Minister of Labour;Minister forCultural Heritage and Environmental;Minister of
CivilProtection;MinisterofForeignAffairs. In1992,asMinisterof InternalAffairs,he founded
theD.I.A. (Direzione InvestigativaAntimafia), a specialised anti-mafia police force.Hewas
appointedSecretary ofState at theMinistry inMay 2008.
For over 26 years he taughtDevelopment Economics at the L.U.I.S.S. inRome, after
which he was visiting professor at the University ofMalta, and founded the Italian branch
of the university. Professor Scotti is presently President of the LinkCampus
University of
In one of the final scnes of Coppola’s
The Godfather
, Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) tells his son
Michael (Al Pacino) that he had better projects for him than just mafia. “I never wanted this for you,”
he confesses. “I work my whole life, I don’t apologize, to take care of my family. And I refused to be a
fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That’s my life, I don’t apologize for that. But
I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator
Corleone, Governor Corleone, something.”
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