There are some 5 million Sicilians, but the number of convicted Mafiosi stands at just 5,000. When people leave Sicily and go the Italian mainland, or England, or France they hear people say and point at them: “Sicilian… Mafioso.” Generalization makes many Sicilians angry because the great majority of them are very honest and hospitable. And yet because of a few thousand good-for-nothing thugs, the island is demonized.
The Mafia runs deep in Sicily. After all it’s been around for a long time. The Mafia is a structure that developed in parallel to the Italian State 150 years ago. The cause of its development is that the Sicilian economy was mainly feudal. In those days there were huge estates which were the property of barons who lived on the Italian mainland and didn’t even know the real size of their lands. These barons employed local middlemen to manage their lands.
And it’s these middlemen who became the de facto owners of these lands, even though it wasn’t really their property. These middlemen set about oppressing the local population and the peasants. Peasants were forced to pay a fee for working the land. It was in this intermediary role that the Mafia took shape and later they moved on from the fields to the towns and cities.
In other words, the Mafia was around before Italy even existed. From 150 years ago up until today the dialogue between the Mafia and the Italian State has never stopped. It can take a place through the blast of bombs and the wail of sirens; it can take place as a calm conversation in broad daylight. This is a dialogue that has always taken place and always will because it is in the nature of the Mafia to always be in dialogue with the State.
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