Another replied: “If they send 10 riot police trucks, do you really think they can stop us? Aren’t we all armed with clubs and clubs against them? “
That conversation among small unnamed Mafia members distributed to reporters by undercover police last weekend in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Same weekend, robber was raided supermarket in Palermo and Naples. Police have since been sent as security guards in various places in both cities.
This case illustrates how, in some of the poorest regions in Italy, coronavirus not the only thing that causes fear. While the plague continues to disrupt health in northern Italy, in the south, the impact is spreading into pre-existing social conditions: poverty and the influence of organized crime.
In the south, crimes such as roadside drug trafficking and extortion occur decreased, said the police. But organized crime quickly turned to crime related to the corona virus. On April 4, police in Naples close a website who sold fake surgical masks and confiscated a factory that sold fake masks. Same day, at Bari, on the southeast coast of Italy, a gang hijacks a truckload of food.
Worse may not yet come.
Coronavirus highlights the role of the central government in areas where control is weak and is challenged by criminal groups. These groups include Cosa Nostra, also known as the Mafia, in Sicily; Camorra in Campania and its capital, Naples; and dr Ndrangheta in Calabria, at the southern tip of Italy. When almost all Italians are forced to stay at home, the failure of the government to support them can pave the way for the poor to turn to mafia-style groups to ask for help.
Organized crime in Italy for a long time history seeking profits from social and economic crises. In SicilyThe Mafia – allied with American and British forces against Mussolini – expanded its grip on smuggling and extortion after the war, while also cashing in government-funded reconstruction. And after German troops left Naples in 1943 and Allied troops moved in, smuggling by Camorra became commonplace as a way to fill gaps in the distribution of food and other goods.
In March, domestic intelligence agent be warned the prime minister about the potential for unrest in southern Italy, triggered by organized crime groups. At the same time, the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, was called in the threat of violence is a “social emergency.”
One possible source of unrest in this case is the legions employed illegally. According to National Statistics Institute, of the workforce of around 25.5 million people in Italy, 3.3 million people are “in nero” – “in the black,” or the informal market – where employers pay low workers’ wages, and workers avoid taxes and get less social welfare benefits. Under national locking rules, illegal workers cannot go outside even with the exception of going to work, because they cannot prove to the police that they have a job. For them, the time for the singalong balcony that deviated from the corona virus outbreak has been reduced, replaced by expressions of frustration.
The Italian authorities are also concerned about the future exploitation of criminals from the crisis to take control of businesses in need. Italy, which had a lot of debt before the virus, might not have enough funds: The two richest countries in the European Union, Germany and the Netherlands, refused to provide large amounts of E.U. funds to support the hard hit countries like Italy, Spain and France.
But organized crime has its own forbidden resources – for example, Caldra ‘Ndrangheta earns about $ 30 billion a year in cocaine trade – and, like moneylenders, can offer money in return for business partnerships or takeovers, Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italy’s best anti-mafia prosecutor, said in an interview broadcast on state television on Sunday.
“The moment is very smooth,” Cafiero De Raho said. “Whenever there is an emergency, the mafia looks to infiltrate the economy.”
To avoid this, he said, the government must find ways to act quickly to help businesses. In previous emergencies, such as the periodic Italian earthquake, businesses had to go through bureaucratic obstacles and delays to get money. This time, the government must avoid giving the mafia the opportunity to come in with assistance first, Cafiero De Raho said.
This is an emergency warning. Unless authorities take steps to protect the most vulnerable and overcome conditions that endanger the south, the mafia will wait in the wings, ready to take advantage of this crisis – and the next, and the next.
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