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Estate, libri, poeti e film anche in Calabria
Pubblicato il 23 giugno 2008, in Appuntamenti

Anche quest'estate, dopo il successo delle scorse edizioni, nel cortile di casa nostra a Polistena, in provincia di Reggio Calabria,  si terrà a fine luglio  una piccola rassegna culturale, organizzata  grazie a tanti amici come Mimmo Calopresti e Piero Cullari, felici di portare una ventata d'arte e di poesia  anche laggiù, nella rigogliosa terra della Piana di Gioia, dove fioriscono ahimé non solo i limoni. Ecco il calendario degli appuntamenti da non mancare.

giovedi 24 luglio
ore 18. Cortile di Palazzo Valensise, Antonio Monda presenta il suo romanzo "L'Assoluzione", ed.Mondadori
ore 21. Piazza del Popolo, proiezione del film "L'Abbuffata" di Mimmo Calopresti; a seguire incontro con l'autore nel Cortile di Palazzo Valensise.

venerdì 25 luglio
ore 18. Cortile di Palazzo Valensise, Bruno Giurato presenta la figura di Lorenzo  Calogero, poeta di Melicuccà
ore 21. Piazza  del Popolo, proiezione del film "Lascia perdere Johnny" di Fabrizio Bentivoglio
ore 23. Piazza del Popolo, Concerto del complesso musicale Avion Travel

sabato 26 luglio
ore 18,30. Cortile di Palazzo Valensise, Franco Purini presenta la mostra "Progettisti di VeMa, la città nuova", a cura dell'Associazione culturale d'Architettura-Polistena.
ore 21. Piazza del Popolo, proiezione del  film Gomorra di Matteo Garrone; a seguire incontro con l'autore nel Cortile di Palazzo Valensise.

Il Financial Times indaga sul sequestro dei beni mafiosi
Pubblicato il 1 giugno 2008, in Diario

Non è la prima volta che per capire cosa succede da noi in Italia bisogna leggere la stampa straniera. Madeleine Johnson, che è americana e vive a Milano, è stata a Roma e in Calabria durante le vacanze di Pasqua per un'inchiesta sul sequestro dei beni della mafia e la loro riconversione produttiva. Il risultato è un gran bel pezzo pubblicato ieri sul supplemento del FT in apertura del supplemento House & Home. Eccolo qui per quei lettori che, interessati al tema, se lo fossero perso e sui giornali italiani rischiano di non trovare mai articoli simili, perché ritenuti "troppo noiosi".


Crime and retribution

By Madeleine Johnson

Published: May 31 2008 02:46 | Last updated: May 31 2008 02:46

A vocational school in Corleone, a senior citizens’ drop-in centre overlooking Lake Como, a jazz club in a Roman villa, a biological farm co-operative in Calabria: none looks like the hot new weapon in Italy’s battle against organised crime but they are, each a success story in an Italian programme that confiscates property and puts it to good social use.

More than 8,000 pieces of real estate are among the assets, worth an estimated €40bn, seized since 1992 from Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Campania’s Camorra, and Calabria’s ’Ndrangheta as well as smaller groups such as Puglia’s Sacra Corona Unita and non-Italian gangs. Real estate is undoubtedly the biggest share of confiscated property. In 2006, half the haul was residential; apartments and villas.

Real estate’s share is so large because it is visible, fixed and more easily traceable than financial assets. It is necessary; bosses need shelter and structure too. Organised crime is closely tied to the construction industry, particularly in Sicily, where entire beaux-arts neighbourhoods were bulldozed during the “Sack of Palermo” in the 1960s and 1970s. Under the convicted Mafia mayor Vito Ciancimino’s regime, Palermo issued a record number of building permits. One of the biggest seizures ever comprised 2,000 apartments taken from a Sicilian construction magnate.

The results of the programme to seize real estate assets, outlined in research by the Italian government and economist Marco Arnone, reveal much about organised crime overall: 83 per cent of the property is in the south; 46 per cent in Sicily, 15 per cent each in Campania and Calabria. With 7 per cent each, Lombardy takes third place with Puglia, evidence of organised crime’s economic penetration in northern Italy.

The relationship between the number of assets seized and the economies of regions with pervasive criminality explains the confiscation programme’s genesis and its hope for success. Seizures represent only a fraction of organised crime’s overall involvement and importance in the economies of southern Italy (and Italy overall, for that matter) but in Sicily they equal 35 per cent of regional gross domestic product. Thus, the potential power of restoring them to the legitimate economy is huge, both economically and socially.

Growing awareness of this power is what has driven the three decades of legislation behind the confiscation programme. Italy realised that mere “cops and robbers” enforcement would never be enough to uproot the social and economic structures nourishing the crime syndicates. Only a social and economic revolution offered hope for long-term success.

Official and legal recognition of the Mafia came to Italy only in 1965, with a law that used the word for the first time. Concentrated on limiting the personal freedom of Mafia suspects, the legislation was impotent against systemic criminality. Indeed, its provision for the forced relocation of suspects helped the criminal organisations expand to new territory, such as the Veneto.

Several successive laws, including the 1992 Rognoni-La Torre law, named for its assassinated sponsors, created the two pillars of the confiscation programme: the removal of capital from the illegitimate economy and its redeployment for social ends. When confiscated, assets are transferred to a state agency, the Agenzia del Demanio (Demanio), created to manage Italy’s real estate.

To make property work for the social good, the Demanio assigns it to municipal governments. In co-operation with non-profit organisations or other government agencies, towns and cities decide who will use the villas, apartments, warehouses, hotels and farmland they receive and how the buildings will be used.

Libera, an anti-Mafia organisation founded by Catholic priest Don Luigi Ciotti in 1995, is probably the most active participant in this final phase. Dedicated to stimulating civil society – its motto is “Names and Numbers” – Libera was instrumental in passing key pieces of legislation. It has helped transform thousands of properties into, for example, drop-in centres for the elderly and biological farms managed by at-risk youths. Other state entities received buildings for schools, barracks or housing for government personnel posted away from home.

The function of the confiscation laws is as much symbolic as it is juridical. Seizures demonstrate that the state is not impotent and that criminal organisations are not invincible. Rehabilitated properties make beachheads of civil society in mob-controlled areas. For Cosa Nostra, the Camorra and the ’Ndrangheta, power is synonymous with property and territorial control. Taking it away damages earning power and image.

Elio Collovà, a court-appointed administrator in Palermo for two decades, says: “Prison is just an inconvenience; a boss can still have power inside prison – but not without territory.”

The social use of property unites and strengthens fragile communities. Organisations such as Libera rely on collective decisions and citizen participation to create stakeholders. The social initiatives selected must answer specific local needs, such as a lack of skills and employment opportunities for youths, or drug rehabilitation. Wide participation discourages corrupt client relationships and favours community spirit.

Positive consequences have a knock-on effect, too. In Polistena, Calabria, an agricultural co-operative on former ’Ndrangheta-owned land packages and sells the oil and tomatoes it produces, teaching marketable skills and supporting “clean” local businesses, such as a container supplier who had been persecuted for refusing to pay protection money. Access to artificially cheap capital favours illegitimate enterprises and forces out legitimate ones. So co-operatives, such as a Sicilian one on Mafia mega-boss Totò Riina’s former land, level the playing field and stimulate a healthier business climate.

Reprisals such as the poisoning of young vines in Sicily and the destruction of a soccer field or farm machinery prove that confiscation is a threat to organised crime. To doubters, who see it as the only logical alternative to an absent state, reprisals betray the Mafia’s innate violence. Destroying a soccer field is bad public relations for mobs but reinforces anti-Mafia organisations’ strongest message: the Mafia kills growth and hope. Without such organised crime, both will come. The variety of stories behind rehabilitation projects gives each its own characteristics. In Galbiate, a small town in the Alpine foothills an hour from Milan, the elderly clients of the Le Querce di Mamre day care centre doze in the sun pouring into what was once a secret, underground bunker of a multinational money-laundering, arms and drug trafficking operation.

Working with specialist architects and health authorities, the non-profit agency that manages the centre added a kitchen and physiotherapy facilities to the unassuming house in a residential suburb. They replaced the bunker’s mirrored walls but left a fussy wooden banister to reinforce the message that the Mafia is not a remote phenomenon on the cinema screen or in the south of the country.

In Rome, former mayor Walter Veltroni’s dream to add a Casa del Jazz to the capital’s cultural life was realised in a handsome 1930s villa built by the founder of a historic bank. The house and its garden, just outside the Aurelian walls, joined the Demanio’s patrimony in 2001 after being seized from the “treasurer” of a Rome-based gang. Opened in 2005, the villa and outbuildings now house a theatre for jazz performances, recording studios, a library and book shop. In 20,000 sq metres of garden, visitors enjoy summer concerts and the neighbourhood’s families have a safe play area.

It took four years of work to strip away the gang-chief’s anachronistic windows, ornate panelling, plasterwork and flashy chandeliers and restore the building’s sober, rationalist lines. Art restorers removed portraits of the gang’s boss and his associates that had been added to the original 1930s scenic mural of Piazza Navona. A gaudy marble pavement featuring the boss’s astrological sign and a mosaic “altar” embedded in the garden wall commemorate the crime connection, as does a plaque with the names of 500 Mafia victims.

Properties in Galbiate and Rome help to bring awareness of organised crime to places where it might otherwise be invisible. But properties where organised crime permeates everyday life send other messages. Boss Totò Riina might have hidden for decades in Corleone but his empty house kept locals from forgetting him. Stripped of its pretentious furnishings, the building is now an agricultural vocational school. By relieving a classroom shortage in Corleone, it has become a part of local hopes, dreams and daily activities.

Successes such as these are still the minority and problems are manifold. With Italy’s glacial judicial pace, decades often pass between the seizure of a property on the arrest of a suspect and its confiscation upon conviction after all appeals.

By the time the Demanio gets them, many buildings are in bad repair and it must clear others of tenants who might be criminals. Mortgages encumber many properties. If obtained in good faith, someone must pay them. If not, more litigation is necessary.

Elisabetta Spitz, the Demanio’s director, says only 18 per cent of the properties transferred to the agency are immediately viable. Although the confiscation programme is a small part of its overall brief, it consumes a disproportionate amount of resources in forensic accounting and litigation.

The question every one asks is: “Does it work?”. The “good guys” have no doubt. Sixty years ago, labour and anti-Mafia activist Placido Rizzotto was killed in Corleone and his remains thrown in a ditch. Now, on the same land, confiscated from bosses Riina, Brusca and Provenzano, a co-operative bearing his name runs a biological farm and a rural tourism scheme. Here, young people trained by Libera cultivate grain and make pasta. As Libera official Miro Barbaro says: “Finally, something good is growing there now.”

And as for the “bad guys”, wiretaps from February 2008 recorded a conversation between the imprisoned Franco Inzerillo and his nephews. After Totò Riina declared war on his family, Inzerillo fled to the US, returning in 1997 to a harsher legal climate. “Get out of Italy ... of Europe,” he advised. “Now, just being incriminated, they freeze your assets. Nothing is worse than getting assets confiscated.”

Copyright Financial Times Limited 2008

Pubblicato il 14 maggio 2008, in Diario

PolistenaDopo il successo delle scorse estati, anche quest'anno con Mimmo Calopresti, Piero Cullari, Marcello Borgese, Giovannino Russo, Nino Frassica, Alessandro Angelini, Luca Rigoni, Denis Kiefer e tanti altri amici, stiamo preparando la nuova edizione del festival di Polistena. Si terrà, come ogni anno, nel cortile di casa nostra durante l'ultima settimana di luglio. Salvata la data. Presto il calendario degli appuntamenti.


maggio        luglio