But an EU-funded project aims to break the culture, of depending on the mafia for work, by providing legal jobs in the mafia heartlands, south of Palermo. And they are fighting the bosses with their own weapons - by using land confiscated from imprisoned mafia gangsters. Deutsche Welle’s Kate Hairsine reports from Sicily.
"The Brusca family controlled the fortunes of this territory for nearly thirty years. So it’s an incredible symbol. Here land equals power. And this project shows that with the will of the people, it’s possible to confiscate and restore mafia land".
"They’re all high quality products. Pasta from land liberated from the mafia – there’s also lentils, chick peas, tomato paste … With these products, we’re demonstrating that it’s not just the mafia who are here, but also the anti-mafia, and those who are against the mafia are not just full of talk, they’re doing something concrete".
The Legal Development consortium, which was established six years ago, is based in the mafia heartlands south of Palermo. It has received four and a half million euros in funding from the European Union and the Sicilian government. This money is primarily used to make the land and villas viable again, says Guarino.
"There is a big time delay between when the properties are confiscated and when they are returned to us. Years can go by. The grounds and the buildings fall into disrepair - some of them are in really terrible condition. If this phase was managed better, we could use the money to make the properties even better than they originally were, rather than just restore them back to their original condition".
"Because it’s only by creating work in the region that you can eliminate the privation that feeds the mafia, that gives them power. Most people would accept working for a mafia boss just so they have a job, and can take home some money. But the moment you provide people with legal work and pay their health and social insurance, you reduce the mafia’s power. That is the secret of our project".
Francesco works for the Placido Rizzotto cooperative, which is named for a union leader murdered by the mafia. According to him, at the beginning it wasn’t always easy attracting seasonal workers.
"When they heard that the properties had been confiscated from mafia bosses, which in this region are the highest authorities, and that it was a government-run project – well, there were a lot of reservations".
Nicola is one of the men who have been regularly employed in the former Brusca vineyards for the past two years. He’s from the nearby village of Roccamena, and says the reason he’s working on the confiscated land is simple.
" It’s a job, and I do it because I need to. … There’s a lot of unemployment."
"Because they know that it’s something that is well run, and is well organized".
Although the projects might be gradually winning over some, the local mafia bosses aren’t beyond trying to intimidate their adversaries, as the project’s leaders found out. Francesco reels off a list of scare tactics such as arson attempts, crops that were deliberately destroyed, and more recently, a hanged dog.
"That’s a clear message – “you are not wanted.” We are not fully accepted everywhere".
There are now plans to expand the project into other areas of southern Italy. And the model has proved so successful, it has attracted the attention of other countries with their own mafia problems, such as Georgia and Romania.
But for the moment the Consortium of Legal Development is busy with the latest addition to the former Brusca property - a riding stable. The stalls were only finished a few months ago and the cooperative hopes to set up a business giving riding lessons to children in the surrounding villages. Like many of their projects, the stables in themselves are symbolic. A large wooden sign dedicates them to Giuseppe di Matteo. He was an eleven-year-old boy who was kidnapped by Brusca because his father – a mafioso - had informed on others involved the Falcone killing. Despite a police manhunt, Matteo was held for more than two years, tortured, and eventually killed. One of his favorite activities had been horse riding.Listen to the report:
In France, Housing has become the hot topic. Homeless people and their supporters have set up hundreds of red tents in the centre of Paris, a visual and provocative way, of putting the plight of the homeless, into the spotlight. And it’s working……Presidential hopefuls can no longer ignore it, and are being forced to commit themselves. The problem is that campaign pledges on housing, are rarely followed through. Radio France International’s Sarah Elzas, reports on the issue that keeps making the headlines, but never seems to get resolved.
Workers from Poland who have move to Western Europe for work often get bad press, particularly in the British Tabloid media. For a change we head to Sweden where apparently Poles have less difficulty integrating. Last year, Poles were among the largest groups of immigrants in Malmö, Sweden's third largest and most ethnically diverse city, located at the very south of the county. The presence of polls in Malmö is not new, but Polish immigration has picked up significantly, since Sweden opened its doors to workers from the countries which joined the EU in 2004.
The Swedish temperance movement has been increasingly concerned, with Western liquor companies and their clever PR advertisements, aiming at new markets in developing countries -- the growing middle class and especially women. In Sweden a new campaign called "Freedom Spirits" aims at reaching both Swedes and consumers abroad, about the dangers of alcohol consumption. ragic observations in many developing countries have noted those armies of poverty-stricken men in the sprawling city slums and in the countryside - spending all of their meagre wages on the local alcoholic brew - instead of on food for the family, badly-needed medicine or school books. But a more recent spotlight has focused on those Western-influenced ad campaigns on highway billboards and in magazines in Africa, Asia and Latin America - designed to capture new consumers with luxury scenes of the rising middle class enjoying expensive, imported spirits -- ads often for the first time including women. As a counter measure, the Swedish temperance movement has been using sophisticated-looking leaflets, brochures and even exhibitions offering free drinks from glamorous bottles of a brand called "Freedom Spirits" - containing no alcohol at all.
“Never again”: how many times have we heard that, after genocides, wars and human rights violations…..yet these are still happening. Well let’s zoom in on an original project which is hoping to change this… "So that children know" is the title of an EU-funded project, in the Czech Republic. It’s goal is to teach fourteen and fifteen-year olds about human rights. The idea is not new - what makes it special is that it aims to break with the old practice of memorizing a text; instead it encourages pupils to talk about various aspects of human rights – and takes them to a World War II concentration camp. Radio Prague’s Daniela Lazarova reports.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union on the first of January, and on new year’s day, a former member of the eastern block joined the Euro zone. Euro notes and coins are now being used in thirteen countries. We’d like you to give us the name of the new member of the Euro zone.
This webpage receives support from the European Union