Monday, March 26, 2007
Sicily: Isola Bella, near Taormina
On to the Mafia:
Originating during the mid 19th century, the Mafia served as protection for the large orange and lemon estates surrounding the city of Palermo. From this, the Mafia began to spread its roots among the landowners and politicians of Sicily. Forming strong links with the government (it is more than likely that many politicians were members or collaborators) the Mafia gained significant power.
During the Fascist period in Italy, Cesare Mori, prefect of Palermo, used special powers granted to him to prosecute the Mafia, forcing many Mafiosi to flee abroad or risk being jailed. Many of the Mafiosi who escaped fled to the United States, among them Joseph Bonanno, nicknamed Joe Bananas, who came to dominate the U.S. branch of the Mafia. However, when Mori started to persecute the Mafiosi involved in the Fascist hierarchy, he was removed, and the Fascist authorities proclaimed that the Mafia had been defeated. Despite his assault on their brethren, Mussolini had his fans in the New York Mafia, notably Vito Genovese.
The United States used the Italian connection of the American Mafiosi during the invasion of Italy and Sicily in 1943. Lucky Luciano and other members of Mafia, who had been imprisoned during this time in the U.S., provided information for US military intelligence, who used Luciano's influence to ease the way for advancing American troops.