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Camorristi, Politicians and Businessmen: The Transformation of Organized Crime in Post-War Naples Vol 11 (Legenda Italian Perspectives)

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Camorristi, Politicians and Businessmen: The Transformation of Organized Crime in Post-War Naples Vol 11 (Legenda Italian Perspectives)

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    Available in PDF Format | Camorristi, Politicians and Businessmen: The Transformation of Organized Crime in Post-War Naples Vol 11 (Legenda Italian Perspectives).pdf | English
    Felia Allum(Author)
This work presents a detailed study of the political role of a criminal organization, the Neapolitan Camorra, in its historical context, that of Naples over the last fifty years. In Campania, until 1991, the population tacitly accepted the relationship between the Camorra and the local political elite (based on the exchange of votes for state contracts and protection), and because of the lack of reliable sources it could not seriously be studied by political scientists. In 1991, however, a law was passed which gave generous remission of sentences to criminals who wanted to cooperate with the police. Following this, many members of the Camorra revealed important aspects of the criminal, economic and political activities of their organization. This new information has permitted a re-examination of the Camorra and has provided material for the story to be told.

Felia Allum is lecturer in Italian politics and history at the University of Bath, UK. She has published various articles on Italian politics and organised crime.

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Book details

  • PDF | 256 pages
  • Felia Allum(Author)
  • Routledge; 1 edition (1 Oct. 2005)
  • English
  • 3
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy
Read online or download a free book: Camorristi, Politicians and Businessmen: The Transformation of Organized Crime in Post-War Naples Vol 11 (Legenda Italian Perspectives)

Review Text

  • By mangilli-climpson m on 8 May 2016

    If Puzzo’s Godfather placed the idea of Mafia, the “mob”, and Cosa Nostra, firmly into the limelight in modern political life, Roberto Saviano’s investigative bestseller Gomorrah (2006) (translated by Virgina Jewiss), plus its spin-offs, gave the Camorra, its Campania or Neapolitan-based brethren, its world platform. Felia Allum of Bath University has now given English speakers an academic map of this violent secret society, where it flourishes and operates.Daughter of Percy, of Politics & Society in Post War Naples (1973) academic fame, who made Naples his life, the younger Dr Allum has focused exclusively on a single aspect which her father mentioned en-passant in little more than two pages. She demonstrates that beyond stereotype generalities that Mediterranean groups continue to revolve around the closest-knit group, the family; that the main protagonists remain young males who subscribe to the code of honour and of violence, and are protected by historical myths: of chivalrous and generous gangs led by local Robin Hoods who provided the poor, the illiterate, and the weak with basic necessities and security which the distant state overlooked; by a local tolerant culture for the underworld, and, most of all, a strongly rooted silence or “omertà”. The common thread is a dogged bloody violence to defend one’s domain from rival gangs or state forces, and woe behold those who dare get in the way: intimidation, kidnapping, extortion, corruption, violence, death. Except for those clans who cooperated with the Sicilian Mafia in the profitable drugs trade from the 1970s, adapting themselves to the organized hierarchical structures, the Camorra organization, its personnel, and its area of operations, however, are all very different.With first, the cooperation of defence lawyers, written testimonies, and interviews with turned state witnesses or “pentiti”, the author has undertaken a original monumental job of compiling biographies, classifying them and then providing reasons why certain youngsters born in similar surroundings, in poor districts, chose, or were driven to excitement and respectability of a celebrity in a life of crime rather than one of a safe white collar profession.Secondly, unlike similar beliefs on the role of women of the Sicilian Mafia, Neapolitan women have always had a vital function in running the Camorra organizations once the principal bosses were in prison possibly a desire to assist their men in their absence: the most noted recent example was Gemma Donnarumma, wife of Valentino Gionta who arranged in 1987 an effective planned public interview, dressed in black, disowning any Camorrista who dared turn state witness and grass on his kind, persuading wives to divorce or disassociate themselves from such weak unmanly turncoats; equally important was Rosa Cutolo, sister of Raffaele, of Ottaviano, head of the New Organized Camorra, another strong woman, who collected and distributed the solidarity funds, and dealt with lawyers; further back in time, in another generation was the legendary 21 year old pregnant widow of Pasquale Simonetti, Assunta Maresca (the stunning “Pupetta” or “Dolly”), who shot her husband’s rival, Antonio Esposito, in broad daylight in the centre of Naples, in October 1955, to vindicate her husband’s murder, as a sign that dead or alive his memory reigns, after which until the end of her life she became a leading figure, eventually being named “Madame Camorra”. Finally, until recently the Camorra unlike the Mafia or the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, it tended to operate exclusively in Campania.Allum recognises two main periods in the history of the Camorra: the immediate post-war until the 1960s when the leaders, like Giuseppe Navarra, known as the “King of Poggioreale”, operated along two paths: as “socially” important, lone wolves or “guappi” involved in limited criminal activities: smuggling – cigarettes and petrol; fixing market prices for locally grown agricultural products, and robbery, but around election time their groups were called upon as “electoral agents”, to entice unaware people to give their political preference to the Catholic DC Gava notables, first Silvio, the father, then Antonio, the son. The notables as patrons, in turn, the author discovered, repaid the electorate, and the armies of delinquent followers, as clients, with promises, but should violence occur, the leaders and men knew they would be protected both in and out of court, with trials being “fixed” by friendly judges and defence lawyers of the Gavas.Much later, in the late 1970s, first with the greater profits coming through drugs the Camorra gangs took on a more professional business approach, by money laundering their illegal gains either by buying out legal businesses in a variety of sectors from building construction, retail, and tourism, or “sponsoring” unaware businesses from outside the territory as fronts or intermediaries to expand their services throughout the Neapolitan neighbourhood, the provincial hinterland, as well as into the provinces of Avellino and Salerno. It became very difficult for the forces of law and order tp distinguish the large illegal from the legal Camorra activities from the small legal or genuine errors carried out by “clean” respected enterprises operating in extremely complicated, and bureaucratically irritating practices.The most interesting feature – first summarised in a volume to commemorate 30 years of Percy Allum’s Politics & Society in 2003, the author noted that following the earthquake that hit Campania, in November 1980, much emergency aid for reconstruction was made readily available from the central government in Rome, with decision making and administration of the funds left in the hands of the local councils, at a moment when the Catholic DC and its allies were losing of political control to the Left, led by the Communist PCI. This was the key moment when the Camorra transformed itself yet again into a new form, by infiltrating the councils directly either by getting “clean” relatives –businessmen, doctors, teachers, elected onto party lists, or influencing other unsuspecting political councillors indirectly to support their economic agendas: by (1) favouring companies owned or “sponsored” by them when tendering for public contracts; (2) warning resistant competitors of having to pay kickbacks both to the politicians and to the Camorra, and if necessary (3) demanding them to subcontract work to local enterprises owned by the Camorra itself. From one town, Quindici, in the province of Avellino, for instance, the reconstruction programme, was estimated to provide the Camorra a lucrative business of around 30 million Euros. If anything large was in the offering a word in the ear with one leading national politician from Napoli was enough to iron out the messy bureaucracy and set the wheels in motion to a bonanza.Over the four years between 1990-93, circumstances were so bad that 32 councils just in the province of Naples were dissolved for Camorra “interference” and collusion, whereas only 22 were dissolved in the entire traditional Mafia-run region of Sicily. But, with the help of two main pentiti, Carmine Alfieri and Pasquale Galasso of the Alfieri Confederation, some justice was finally reached in Naples: Gava’s political lieutenants, Senators Vincenzo Meo and Francesco Patriarca and Deputy Alfredo Vito, were sentenced in 2001 for Mafia connections; instead, three former DC ministers: Antonio Gava, Vincenzo Scotti and Paolo Cirino Pomicino, were all able to walk away scot free to join the now deceased former Premier, Giulio Andreotti, in the team of freed crooks.Dr Allum gave Pomicino, writing under the alias “Geronimo”, the last word both on the corruption and the formation of the 2nd Republic: and in essence he refused; or rather as Berlusconi has said since 1994 “we was robbed!!”, that Italy composed of ideologically determined lawyers unable to effect normal change through the ballot box had a political agenda to trigger a coup or political revolution and oust the legitimate DC government, and impose on the city of Naples in 1993 the Left’s Antonio Bassolino as directly elected mayor, and the nation with several Centre-Left governments. The author allowed herself to explain that despite being declared innocent after 8 years, it would be more correct to stress that their charge could not be proven sufficiently in court rather than their lieutenants often operating as their proxies were thought more guilty. So, with a twist Allum has reopened doubts and lengthened the debate. Perhaps his accomplices, the men of violence, might have provided a more definite answer: “Only the dead can’t answer”, but that reply too won’t necessarily have been accepted, much less understood.Felia Allum ends most of her papers with the nice phrase “The story goes on”; for the lessons of the 1970s and 80s seem not to have been learnt either by subsequent local or national politicians now members of political formations all colours. They are still thought to be working in some form with the men of violence, and until the long trials are not concluded the author is unprepared to nail her suspicions in public. The Camorra, too, she adds, has continually re-transformed itself when it needed to as a social, an economic, and a political force, and could if it wished (if it has not already) move beyond the confines of the region, like the ‘Ndrangheta, to the North and operate together with the Albanian and Russian Mafia on trade in East European prostitution, in arms, and nuclear waste (as well as the Chinese triads which she overlooks) or outside the country, in Northern Europe, where other Neapolitan exiles reside. She does remind readers that even Raffaele Cutolo, now in Bellino prison, had talks with the Calabrians, and they, as well as the scandals of the 1990s of Bribesville, have disproven the ideas of Almond & Verba (1963), and Putnam (1993) that only environments lacking a traditional civic culture or sufficient social capital are prone to inherent corruption; most leaders in industry and politics have their price, so necessity encourages ingenious novel risky but rewarding schemes and networks, and ingenuity, or being cunning for an Italian, is not the exclusivity of the honest.This volume will definitely interest students of rural and political sociology, practitioners of the law, and the police. The first section will also excite those working in a variety of research methods in the social sciences. But the general readers in the UK also have a look in; they can identify the similarities with those organizations in their own backyard, and how the political forces respond to them. They will even see where Saviano had erred. A wonderful well argued analysis.

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