Spring advent is the symbol of change, not only for nature, but especially for people’s minds. In Italy we also renew our search for truth and social justice on this day. Since 1996 every 21th of March an Italian association called Libera organizes and celebrates the Memorial and Obligation Day to remember all the guiltless mafia victims. Happy Mafia Victims Memorial Day!
The origins of the Mafia term, also called “Cosa Nostra” in Sicilian dialect, are not very clear. It probably comes from Arabic “mo’afiah”, which means arrogance. This criminal phenomenon materialized in Italy during the 19th century, or maybe even earlier in the period of feudalism. In those times there were some shady people managing noble terrains, by exploiting poor laborers, who used to intermediate between feudal owners and the glebe helped by their henchmen. So criminal organizations were well mixed among official political powers, especially in those more remote and underdeveloped states, as we are still seeing today.
In Italy, other mafia branches exist, like Neapolitan “Camorra”, Calabrian “‘Ndrangheta” and Apulian “sacra Corona Unita”. Yet the most important thing to know is they’re not only an Italian prerogative. With lots of past emigrations, they have spread to other countries abroad, like Russia, China, The United States and other ones.
Libera supporters marching on International Peace Day | Photo: Libera
Year after year honest people have been looking for new ways to eradicate this social evil. It’s clear as night and day now why lots of movements, like Libera, have been established. This association was born in 1995 with the purpose of soliciting everyone who’s in a struggle against mafia organizations. In fact, lots of Libera seats are located in gangster-confiscated properties, as a concrete will to get more equality in all parts of Italy and other mafia infested countries. Father Luigi Ciotti is the Libera president, while Nando Dalla Chiesa (son of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, who’s was killed by mafia) is the honorary president. Libera started the initiative for a Mafia Victims Memorial Day in 1996. Over the years this day and the organization received more recognition. In 2012 the Global Journal even put Libera in the ranking of the 100 best NGO’s in the world.
Last year over 350.000 people took to the streets to remember the countless Mob victims, among them them many Italian politicians, who attend this event every year. Although Father Luigi Ciotti says in The Times we made many steps forward, Italy continues to suffer from corruption. We have organized crime, political crime and economic crime too, and it’s often not so simple to distinguish them from each other. It’s the reason why magistrates in the vast majority of investigations can’t identify the true source of evil.
According to Libera president, the best antidote to this kind of plague is work, school, culture, social service and all the things that can help us to remember and make the difference. We have to know every massacre that has bloodied our country, and give strength to the judges and magistrates fighting against illegality. Those who did wrong must pay, and, above all, we don’t need to lose memory, because we need our dignity to suppprt the people who fought and the ones who still fight.
Over 30.000 people showing their support last year on Mafia Victims Memorial Day in Messina | Photo: Libera