Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mafia update

So what’s the latest on the mafiosi scene? The most obvious thing, and the one that affects everyone, is the rubbish collection issue. Heaps of it, 2 metres high and occupying the space of three cars on the street every 100metres or so, make Milazzo a very smelly place to be. The new council promise that shortly it will be all resolved but I don’t think anyone really believes them. The mafia make money out of the rubbish not being collected so it is in their interest to block any progress there.

Something that affects us more directly is the gang from the nearby town who come to drink every now and again. They came in last Saturday night, on a very good night with good music and everyone having a good time. These smalltime gangsters had a few shots of vodka without getting the scontrino at the till, and were loitering about outside. Mio marito had dealt with their boss effectively the first time they came and he had paid up, albeit with a small discount. But the bossman was very drunk and puked up at the bar just as he was about to pay. This coincided with the arrival of a plainclothes carabiniere who said they had received a call about the noise being too loud from a neighbour. Since our doors were closed and the speakers were turned inwards, it is highly unlikely that any neighbour would have called. Also, the bar 50 metres down the road is much louder, with an open roof top and music so loud it makes our windows rattle. Mio marito says it must have been another locale whose owner was jealous at the success of our Saturday night. Anyway, the bossman and the carabiniere exchanged glances, the carabiniere looking disgusted at the puke on the guy’s shirt, the mafiaman looking annoyed at getting caught in such a compromising situation, andmio marito dismayed that the carabiniere had come in just at that moment, as he will think these are the kind of regulars we have. The mafiaman took advantage of the confusion of the moment to slink away without paying, despite the fact that mio marito had kindly given him a towel to clean himself with and save his bossman ego.

Mio marito is now part of a consorzio del borgo, a committee of restaurant and bar owners in the borgo antico. They hope to work together to promote events up here in the Spanish quarter, keeping it clean and safe and offering cultural activities. I am curious to see what will happen as I have yet to see a group of Sicilians working well together. Indeed, after every meeting mio marito usually has a story about how so-and-so disagrees and how another wants to do it his way etc. … One of the older people and more experienced in local matters said that if anyone was asked for a ‘pizzo’ –bribe- by the local mafia, that they had to tell the consorzio, so that they would all stand up against them. This was news: Milazzo is not known as a pizzo place. But this man knew of a small family business in the marina from whom the mafia are taking €1000 a month. The poor guy probably doesn’t have much to take home after that.

The most disturbing of all is that one of our regulars, a guy in his late twenties has spoken openly in the local newspapers about the murder of his brother by the mafia. They live in the nearby town, which he called the new black hole of mafioso crime in Italy … Great. His brother died under suspicious circumstance a few years ago due to an overdose of heroine. At the time it was put down to suicide. But his family and friends knew he was in no way suicidal; he was a brilliant young doctor with a promising career ahead of him and very happy in his personal life, and did not use drugs. Also, the biggest clue was that he was left-handed, and the injection had been put into his left arm. Also, his body showed signs of a struggle. His brother did some research and discovered that his unfortunate brother was forced to operate on Provenzano to save his life. He was at a medical conference in France where the famous mafia boss was hiding out – no one had seen his face in over 20 years. At the time the young doctor didn’t know who it was; he merely carried out the life-saving operation. But several years later the mafia apparently had news that he had realized who his critical patient was, and so the order was given to get rid of him. Not nice.

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