22 August 2008

Exposing the Camorra

VICE just ran a fascinating interview with a guy named Roberto Saviano. He wrote an internationally best-selling book called Gomorrah, mixing a fictional story with a nonfictional investigation about the Camorra. From what I understand, it's the least talked-about and most dangerous Mafia in the world.

"The Italian Mafia has a strong international appeal. Most of the world’s Mafias, besides maybe the Russian and the Chinese, are inspired by it."

This interview really helps you understand how the three major Mafia families in Italy operate – they are commonly referred to as the Camorra (Campania), the ’Ndrangheta (Calabria) and the often talked-about Cosa Nostra (Sicily). Apparently Italy – and in some part, Europe – would be in trouble if these three families didn't operate. I had never thought of it as a business operation before, because the media in the U.S. sensationalizes the murder and "he has crossed me so I will kill his son" part of the Mafia so much. Just check these figures out:
The net turnover of the three Italian Mafias—the Camorra in Campania, the ’Ndrangheta in Calabria, and the Cosa Nostra in Sicily—is something like $230 billion per year. That’s just their direct business. If you add all the other aspects, you could say they are linked to around $800 billion annually. Consider the $230 billion figure. The FIAT group, Italy’s largest industrial group, has a turnover of around $80 billion a year. In other words, the Mafia is the single largest Italian economy, and one of the largest in Europe.
Saviano also talks about how the intense success of his book has brought the kind of attention he doesn't want – for the past few years, he's had to go everywhere in a bullet-proof car and is followed by three policemen /bodyguards, 24/7. He now regrets writing the book because he has had to stop almost all communication with his friends and family; this type of publicity makes human relationships difficult when there is a person like Saviano in the picture, because who associates with you says a lot.

Saviano said that it's not so much writing about the Camorra that's the problem, but reaching this many people (100,000 people in only a few months) that they doesn't like. In his words, "Only stupid dictatorships ban books without understanding that you just give it publicity by doing so. Real democracies censor you by ignoring you." So basically, the Camorra is going to sit tight and wait it out until the publicity dies down. Then... he might have to up the bodyguard count to six :\

Here is the link to the interview again, check it out.
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