This month, rioting by African immigrants broke out in Rosarno, in southern Italy, after at least one immigrant was shot with an air rifle. The riots were widely portrayed as clashes between immigrants and native Italians, but they were really a revolt against the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Calabrian mafia. Anyone who seeks to negate or to minimize this motive is not familiar with these places where everything — jobs, wages, housing — is controlled by criminal organizations.After describing the riots, Saviano says, "It’s a mistake to view the Rosarno rioters as criminals. The Rosarno riots were not about attacking the law, but about gaining access to the law." But he goes on to explain the logic of gangster organizing that could change the immigrants' stance:
if the Africans in Rosarno had been organized at a criminal level, they would have had a way to negotiate with the Calabrian Mafia. They would have been able to obtain better working and living conditions. They wouldn’t have had to riot.
The title is "Italy's African Heroes." It looks like the state agrees with the mob on the need to strip them of hero status -- which will only augment the mob.
Saviano says that Americans have also already seen this movie:
Italy is a country that’s forgotten how its emigrants were treated in the United States, how the discrimination they suffered was precisely what allowed the Mafia to take root there. It was extremely difficult for many Italian immigrants, who did not feel protected or represented by anyone else, to avoid the clutches of the mob. It’s enough to remember Joe Petrosino, the Italian-born New York City police officer who was murdered in 1909 for taking on the Mafia, to recognize the price honest Italians paid.The nice thing about this piece is that it sees that another way is possible - though interestingly not for the Italians by themselves.
To those African immigrants I say: don’t go — don’t leave us alone with the mafias.