What does one think of when the Italian Mafia is mentioned? Deadly criminals living luxurious lifestyles obtained from illegal activities such as racketeering and extortion? That might ring true for how films portray these underworld organisations, but the Mafia in Italy are breaking these silver-screen stereotypes by providing supplies to less-fortunate locals across Italy.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Italy has been horribly devastated by its effects. They stand in third for the highest recorded cases of coronavirus as well as second in highest deaths globally. Similar to other countries, the Italian government has issued a mandatory lockdown period to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Shops and restaurants have been closed down for over a month while ‘shopping vouchers’ have been issued to the public. The Guardian reports that “the ramifications of the lockdown in Italy are affecting the estimated 3.3 million people in Italy who work off the books. Of those, more than 1 million live in the south”–which is why the Mafia have stepped in.
Due to the difficulty in obtaining resources, known members from different branches of the Italian Mafia have been seen handing out food in Italy’s poorest regions such as Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia.
While this seems like a nice gesture in a time of crisis, some people such as anti-mafia investigator and head of the prosecutor’s office in Catanzaro, Nicola Gratteri, believe that this act of kindness is a ploy to woo less fortunate people into supporting the Mafia. He told The Guardian that “mafia bosses consider their cities as their own fiefdom.”
As such, they know that the people living in their territories must be tended to in order to govern them. Gratteri added that “in the people’s eyes, a boss who knocks on the door offering free food is a hero.”
“And the boss knows that he can then count on the support of these families when necessary, when, for example, the mafia sponsors a politician for election who will further their criminal interests,” he said. Whether these food handouts serve as a mere act of kindness or as an early favour waiting to be repaid lies unclear for now.
Mafia distributes food to Italy’s struggling residents.https://t.co/V6CpcbUIK6
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(*Featured image taken from Intelligent Living)
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