Wednesday, November 18, 2015


       A little over two weeks ago the IAA had a very interesting and cultural event. We sought out the expertise of one of my professors from Sicily to help us tackle this perception of the Mafia in the United States. As all of you know it is something that is romanticized in the US and all we usually see is guns, blood, and drugs. Not to say these things are not associated with the Mafia however, it is much much more than that. We called upon the help of my Mafia course professor Peppe to sit down and give us the low-down on what the Mafia really is!

      Peppe essentially dove right into the association that the Mafia has with Italian politicians. He gave us a picture of how the Mafia launders the money illegally from the politicians and in return the Mafia gives the politicians votes. How do they do this? They have their ways. They will make sure you vote for a certain party or one of your family members will go missing. This only begins to scrape the surface of the Mafia. This can be described as the Mafia boss' level, or where the Mafia stems down from. From here it delves down into the thugs that we are accustomed to seeing. These are the brainless soldiers of the Mafia bosses that do all of the dirty work: the selling of drugs, the prostitution, and the tax collecting. Most of the time when the law makes a huge bust on the Mafia only the soldiers of the bosses are lost. This is not a problem, they are not the brain of the organization, they are mere pawns in the game.

      Peppe continued to tell us about how politics could exist without the Mafia but how the Mafia could not exist without politics. This would just be another form of gangsterism. The three main Mafia organizations discussed during the meeting were: La Cosa Nostra, L'ndrangheta, and La Camorra. Cosa Nostra is the Mafia that comes from Sicily which directly translates to "our thing". This organized criminal based group was very active in the media during the 70's and 80's but has pulled back some since. L'ndrangheta comes from Calabria, the region next to Sicily at the bottom of the boot. This is the strongest of all the organizations in Italy, making up a solid fraction of Italy's entire GDP. The sheer size and methods that they use are unmatched by other organizations. Finally, the most bloody and romanticized group is the Camorra. La Camorra comes from Naples and has no formal boss. It is simply a bunch of rival gangs fighting each other for profits and drugs. This is the bloodiest of the three and is always in the news.

      It was really cool for him to take the time to show us that what our perception of the Mafia is today, is wrong. He made is abundantly clear that it is more organized crime rather than gangsterism that we see in the movies. It is a very well-structured organization that has its soldiers at the bottom doing the dirty work, the financiers at the economic level, and finally the brains of the organization controlling the political sphere. It was an awesome speech and I think everyone took something away from it!

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