Crimor: men against Cosa Nostra

Italy - 2018

“...we’re here with a cover, with a hood, with a scarf, talking about a battle name, as if this was a cool thing, something to flaunt...this is not something to flaunt, this is just awareness, it is the choice to be shadow, to be nobody...we just want to make clear that invisibility is our real safety...”
Captain Ultimo - Interviewed by Pino Corrias and Renato Pezzini, 2017

“Not always those around me saw in the right light the fussy attention that I dedicated to the problem of my safety: I think it is the number one rule when you have the task of fighting the mafia”
Judge Giovanni Falcone - Cose di Cosa Nostra, 1991



Totò Riina, already a fugitive for over 20 years, after the sentences of the “Maxi-Trial” - considered the first real attempt of the State to fight Cosa Nostra - became irrevocable on January 30 1992 starts a frontal war against the State of Italy, which culminates with the Capaci and Via D’Amelio massacres, where anti-mafia judges Falcone and Borsellino were slaughtered, along with their police escorts, respectively on May 23rd and July 19th 1992.

In September 1992, within the 1st Section of the 1st Department of the ROS, the Special Operational Group of the Carabinieri, CRIMOR - a team of operatives whose purpose is the fight against organized crime through analysis and intelligence, through technicallogistical support to investigative activities and, above all, through research and capture of primary fugitives - was sent to Palermo, Sicily.
Led by Mario Mori, at that time the deputy operational commander of the ROS, Captain Ultimo’s team - Archer, Viking, Omar, Aspide and a few more - thanks to his innovative methods of investigation in less than 4 months, the following January 15 1993, arrested the super fugitive Totò Riina, the boss of the bosses of Cosa Nostra. Today, after 25 years, most of all of these men are still working for the Arma dei Carabinieri and, because of the mafia death sentence still pending on their heads, they still have to conceal their identities.


The last American Thule

USA - 2016

It’s the northernmost town in the United States, on the Arctic Ocean, and is home to almost five thousand people, 56% of them are Eskimos. Barrow can be reached only by plane, the supplies arrive only by boat. They call it the “ground zero” of climate change. A world outpost to check the effects of global warming. Here everything is really impressive: the thawing of the icepack, starting a month earlier compared to ten years ago; the coastal erosion, up to 300 meters a year; the consequences of the melting permafrost on the coastal villages, forcing people to emigrate. Massive, in fact, is the scientific community working in a former compound of the Navy from the times of the Cold War.

Barrow is a vantage point of view not only on the rising energy and geostrategic importance of the Arctic but also to look at the Eskimos today, divided between the defense of their culture, including the anachronistic traditional whaling, and the defense of their right to participate in the exploitation of resources. How do they live in a place considered among the most extreme in the world, the last American Thule? This is also a journey into the daily life of an isolated community in a wild environment, where people carry guns to protect themselves from polar bears and where the “main square” is a library, now called the ‘’Alexandria” of the Arctic because it preserves and files the knowledge, written and oral, of the people living in the polar regions.

Marzio G. Mian


A light of hope

Japan - 2016

Higasni Nihon Daisinnsai (the Great East Japan Earthquake) as the Japanese people call the March 2011 eartquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, hasn’t turned into an old memory yet. Scars are still visibile in most parts of the No-Go Zone, the 20km area that was evacuated after the Daiichi Power Plant meltdown. The little town of Naraha, which lies across the border of the exclusion zone even though the 98% of its population used to live inside it, has been the first town ever to be completely re-opened to its inhabitants last September 2015, when the authorities lifted the evacuation order that was issued almost five years before. After almost six months only 300 out of 7000 people have returned to their homes. Their will to be back home was much stronger than any fear for radiations or for any discomfort a town that’s being re-built almost entirely could bring to their lives. There are still many problems to be faced but daily life is going back to normal, infrastructures are being renewed and services are slowly being restored, including trains, taxis, restaurants, an hotel and a mini market.


Gangs in Milan

Italy - 2015

There is a strong tie between El Salvador and Italy. Back in the ’70s, during a time of dictatorships and wars, many people, especially women, form that torn country migrated to Europe to escape violence and find a better life. At that time Italy was much richer than Spain so most of those women ended up in Milan to work as housemaids in the homes of wealthy bourgeoisie families. After more than thirty years, the Salvadoran community in Milan is still among the biggest in Europe and those women have slowly made their relatives and kids join them.
As a matter of fact integration for those who came as second and third generations with their counterparts in Italy has remained weak and many of those kids have embraced the models of the infamous gangs of Salvador known as Maras: the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha. Numbers and figures are obviously well far away to those of Salvador but Milan in recent years has become the capital of these gangs here in Europe. Not a case that the Italian Police in Milan has a specific department investigating crimes related to gang violence since the beginning of the millennium. In this reportage, commissioned by Internazionale and El Faro, I worked with journalist Roberto Valencia to investigate the effects of this phenomenon on the lives of the Salvadoran people here in my hometown.


Violence in Honduras

Honduras - 2009

In Honduras crime is endemic. With a population of 7.3 millions and 4.473 homicides, its per capita murder rate back in 2008 was 59,7 x 100.000 inhabitants, the second worst in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011 Global Study on Homicide, Honduras has become today the nation with the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, with 86 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. Almost 80% of the victims are killed with a gun and most of the homicides are committed in public places of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the political and the economic capital of the country, by hired killers, usually members of a gang recruited by the Mexican and Colombian narco cartels. More than a third of the victims has less than 24 years of age. The country has a youthful population; 50% of Hondurans are under the age of 19. But endemic poverty, chronic unemployment and the prospects offered by drug trafficking have contributed to a virulent crime wave conducted mainly by youth gangs known as “maras”. The maras are said to have tens of thousands of members and use threats and violence to control poorer districts in towns and cities. Imported by returning immigrants from the US, Honduras was the least prepared State of Central America to cope with the youth phenomenon and only in 2003 a plan of specific laws against the maras was implemented by the government, substantially giving the police the right to arrest anyone suspected of being a member of a gang just for having tattoos or the way of dressing.

After the 2005 presidential electoral campaign which saw Pepe Lobo, the National Party candidate, promise the population to reintroduce the death penalty, the gangs changed their criminal habits and their strategies. Both the biggest maras, the Eighteen Street or 18 and the mara Salvatrucha or MS13, became partners of the narco cartels running the drug business. Those who decide to quit the mara have to live with a lifetime death sentence on them. It’s a rule. No one can leave behind his mara, and doing so he put at risk the life of his familiy and friends, at all times. Most of them grew up in the streets and entered the gang very young. Fabian, Ana, Nelson, Luis Omar, Robin, Carlos Alberto, Axel were well known with the names they were given entering the maras. El Demente, la Casper, el Sombra, el Plaga, el Pantera, el Bestia, Spike. All of them have killed the first time entering the mara, when they were “initiated”. Abandoned from their parents, they thought the gang as a new kind of family but without really knowing what it was, its strict rules, the stress of living under constant threat and the immense quantity of violence it would have brought in their lives. Like them, there are some 50.000 kids at risk reported only in Tegucigalpa. Probably ten times more in all the country. In Honduras, social discrimination is very strong. There is an increasing feeling of uncertainty about the chronically poor security situation, the widely spread corruption among politicians and police officers. The increasing number of people living in extreme poverty is leading to an always higher number of kids living in the streets and most likely going to enter the maras.


Catracho, el pueblo mas machio

Honduras - 2009

Catracho is the slang word for honduran. “El pueblo mas macho es el pueblo Catracho” is one of the most known sayings in a society where violence among family members as left a deep scar. Indiscriminate alcohol consumption is the leading cause of domestic violence, so referring to any violent act related to sexual gender and resulting in a physical, sexual or psychological damage. The majority of these violent behaviours towards women are committed in general by men within a very close degree of kinship, being 65,5% of them relatives, friends and ex boyfriends of the victims.

One out of seven women is victim of physical abuse. Only in 1998 a law protecting women victims of domestic violence was finally passed by the Honduran parliament. But having a law is one thing, enforcing it is another. In 2008, the Honduran forensic medicine department received 870 applications of grievous bodily harmed women, 25,2% were of women between 25 and 29 while another 22,2% of them were between 20 and 24. The same office received 1,468 evaluations of sexual violence, being teenagers and young women the 84,5% of the victims. The numbers of abuses that are not denounced are most likely ten times higher than these.

In too many countries and cultures around the world is quiet common to think that if a woman has been beaten she must have done something to deserve it. According to the UN Population Fund, around the world as many as one in three women have been beaten at the hands of someone they know well. More than in other countries of the region, in Honduras this phenomenon is rapidly increasing and also here, unfortunately, the story is no different.


Ainu mosir

Japan - 2008

Hokkaido is the Japanese name for Ainu Mosir. The land of human beings. The most northern island of Japan used to be the land of the Ainu people, an indigenous ethnical minority. They arrived in Hokkaido during the 15th century from the island of Sakhalin, now part of the Russian Federation. In the Meiji era the Japanese government forced them to abide by Japanese daily customs. In the end, oppression and exploitation turned into discrimination, a problem that still remains today. Nowadays there are only 50.000 Ainu left, 15.000 if we consider only those who have both parents Ainu. It’s only in June 2008 that the Hokkaido “former aborigines” turned into an “indigenous population with its own language, its religion and its culture” for the Japanese Parliament.

The lives of many Ainu are now relying on tourism. Many of them perform during the shows in fake Ainu villages or work as souvenirs craftsmen. Alternatively they work in Museums. Efforts to preserve the Ainu culture from extinguishing have been done by governmental institutions, by private associations and by single persons as well, like Shiro Kayano – the son of Shigeru Kayano, the only Ainu that was ever elected in the Japanese Parliament – who was among those who ratified the final declaration on Indigenous Minorities’ Rights at the Indigenous People Summit, held as a counter G8 summit in Sapporo at the beginning of July 2008, or like Asir Rera, a 62 years old woman who as devoted her life to maintain her native culture alive through her community. Too many dissimilar points of view though have kept the Ainu community disgregated and therefore powerless in order to keep their culture alive. Something that Ainu people have to change promptly to succeed in the battle for their survival.

In September 2007 the General Assembly of the United Nations ratified the ÒDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous peopleÓ. The Declaration was voted against only by four countries, Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada, where the biggest communities of Indigenous minorities, the Aborigines, the Native Indians, the Maori and the Inuit, live. I therefore decided to start a long term project on Indigenous minorities willing to reach those who are facing different problems across the planet and to narrate their way of living, focusing on the main struggles regarding the respect of their rights as human beings and as indigenous people.


Izbrisani

Slovenia - 2006

Slovenia was the first of the former Yugoslavia republics to declare independence in 1991. When independence was declared the government decided to start a modern ethnical cleansing of non-Slovenian people; immigrants from any of the republics of former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina).

In Yugoslavia there were three different levels of citizenship: a red Yugoslavian passport, a single republic citizenship and a residential permit for people physically living in a republic. This was the one that gave effectively political and social rights to people. After independence all the “internal” immigrants were given, without being officially advised, only six months to regularize their old passports. Many of them discovered to be “izbrisani” (“cancelled”, “not on record”) after a long time, at the first occasion where id documents were needed, like crossing a border, renew an expired document or recognizing the birth of a child. In 2004, when Slovenia joined the EU, from the 200.000 internal immigrants of 1991 there were still some 18.000 of them living with no basic civil rights granted.

Clandestine stateless in their own country. What makes “izbrisanies” so particular is the fact that they are not a community living in a certain area or city. They are just normal people who had to face one day with the other the impossibility to carry on a normal life.


UNFICYP

Cyprus - 2005

In October 2005 the European Union officially started the negotiations to let Turkey join the EU. The 1974 invasion of the north of Cyprus by the turkish army is one of the issues that still has to be discussed. The turkish government gave life to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is still internationally recognized by no country except for the Republic of Turkey. UNFICYP (United Nation Forces in Cyprus) is since then in charge of mantaining the safety in the area and still guards the buffer zone between the two regions.

They also run a humanitarian convoy with food and goods for the basic needs of the greek population of Rizokarpaso, a small town on the tip of the Karpas peninsula, the most eastern end of the Turkish side of Cyprus where live a community of some 300 greek cypriots since the 1974 occupation who were then deprived of their houses, their businesses, their lands as well as the freedom to move around the country. In the Buffer Zone there’s also the civil airoprt of Nicosia which most likely has had the shortest life of all civil airports ever. Built in 1969 it was taken under control, and still is, by UNFICYP in 1974 to avoid any fighting over it.

Nicosia is therefore the only European capital that doesn’t have a civil airport, forcing people entering the country to fly to Larnaka.


People of Triboniano

Italy - 2005

In Italy there are some 180.000 Roma people, among them 90.000 are italian citizens. They belong to different ethnic groups. There are Sinti, Kalé but most of them are Rom and arrived in Italy the first time around six hundreds years ago. Half of them are children and most of the families in the community still live in caravans in legal or illegal camps. Belonging to the Roma community and keeping alive traditions and cultural habits often result in a constant ostracism from the inhabitants of the city and the local political institutions as well. The Romas are too often objects of discriminating and disqualifying social policies, the same kind of those that aroused the wrong stereotype of their nomadic culture.

Nomadism was the result of the persecutions they suffered in Europe over the last centuries. They use a specific word, Porajmos, they use to describe and keep memory alive of the 500.000 Roma people killed by the Nazis during WWII. In such conditions their lives turn to be very difficult. The impossibility to get access to any kind of sanitary assistance, the lack of water for cooking and washing, the heathing for the winter time, the structures to collect garbage are among the problems Roma people have to face daily.

In September 2007 the General Assembly of the United Nations ratified the ÒDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous peopleÓ. The Declaration was voted against only by four countries, Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada, where the biggest communities of Indigenous minorities, the Aborigines, the Native Indians, the Maori and the Inuit, live. I therefore decided to start a long term project on Indigenous minorities willing to reach those who are facing different problems across the planet and to narrate their way of living, focusing on the main struggles regarding the respect of their rights as human beings and as indigenous people.


Inside McDonald’s

Italy - 2004

Localism is one of the key factor of McDonald’s success. Suppliers, management and clients in most of the 119 countries where McDonald’s 30.000 restaurants are located to serve some 52 millions people every day belong to the same local community. McDonald’s has developed a strict quality control system for standards and procedures along the whole food chain in order to guarantee the highest quality hamburgers in the world following four principles: quality, service, cleanliness, and value.

A look from the inside. Still it has to be demonstrated that this kind of nutrition does not increase the possibilities to get nutrition disease if not kept under strict control, especially by parents on kids and teenagers. This is a look at the italian production chain carried on by East Balt for the bread, Inalca (Cremonini Group) for the meat and Italog for the distribution to the 360 and more fast food spread all over Italy.


Prestige? Nunca mais!

Spain - 2003

Il 19 novembre 2002 affonda al largo delle coste della Galizia la “Prestige”, una petroliera battente bandiera greca, monoscafo, costruita in Giappone 26 anni fa ma soprattutto appesantita del suo carico di oltre 75.000 tonnellate di greggio. Il primo cedimento riversa nell’Atlantico le prime 4.000 tonnellate. Dopo pochi giorni lo scafo, sommerso a 3600 metri di profondità, si spezza letteralmente in due: ecco la seconda ondata di greggio, 6.000 tonnellate. A distanza di tre mesi dalla catastrofe si calcola che il petrolio raccolto, di cui ancora non si sa bene cosa farne se non trasportarlo in apposite discariche nei pressi di A Coruña, raggiunga al massimo le 20.000 tonnellate. Il resto è ancora in acqua. Non è la prima volta che si rovescia del petrolio nelle acque della Galizia, anche se questa volta la situazione appare ben più grave rispetto a quando, nel ’92, la petroliera greca “Aegean Sea” si incagliò al largo del porto di A Coruña riversando in mare milioni di litri di greggio. A dirlo diverse organizzazioni ambientaliste, come Greenpeace, WWF o Legambiente, ma anche istituzioni del mondo della ricerca legata all’ambiente come l’Osrl (UK), la più sofisticata azienda del mondo nel campo dell’inquinamento petrolifero, o l’IFREMER, l’Istituto francese di ricerca per lo sfruttamento del mare.

Gli abitanti della Galizia, da sempre considerati nel confuso scenario etnico spagnolo come un popolo passivo, si potrebbe quasi dire atavicamente apatico, hanno reagito a questa ennesima catastrofe con una sollevazione immediata e spontanea. Di fronte all’intervento poco reattivo della Giunta della Galizia e del governo centrale spagnolo, la gente non ha fatto altro che rimboccarsi le maniche e mettersi freneticamente al lavoro per arginare le ondate di marea nera che arrivano sulla costa. Il lavoro certo non manca: secondo il Ministero dell’ambiente spagnolo, delle 1064 spiagge della Galizia ben 657 sono state, ad oggi, contaminate. Il “ground zero” di questa catastrofe si trova nei pressi di Muxìa, un paesino di poche centinaia di anime abbarbicato su uno dei bellissimi fiordi della Costa della Morte, l’area nel complesso più colpita. E’ qui che si è ritrovata la maggior parte dei volontari che da tutta la Spagna sono giunti in Galizia, creando addirittura problemi logistici per via delle scarse infrastrutture del luogo. Qui, come nelle Rias Altas e nelle Rias Baixas, l’apporto dei volontari è stato fondamentale, soprattutto nei giorni immediatamente successivi alla catastrofe. In cambio di un pasto caldo e di un materassino su cui stendere il proprio sacco a pelo, migliaia di giovani, studenti, lavoratori in permesso e disoccupati si sono riuniti nei luoghi più colpiti per dare il loro apporto.

Sveglia presto, colazione e poi di corsa a raschiare, grattare, raccogliere la triste eredità lasciata dal Prestige. La giornata di lavoro è breve a causa della forte marea che inizia a salire nelle prime ore del pomeriggio portando con sé, oltretutto, nuovo petrolio e lasciando così una situazione apparentemente immutata rispetto a quella del giorno prima. Il governo, anche se tardivamente, ha messo a disposizione dei volontari gli strumenti necessari per lavorare: maschere antigas, tute, guanti, arnesi di ogni genere. Ha inoltre attivato la protezione civile per l’organizzazione del lavoro e assicurato, laddove fosse più necessario, la presenza di alcuni reparti dell’esercito. Ma questo non è bastato per placare le proteste dei cittadini. La prima manifestazione è stata quella del 3 dicembre 2002 a Santiago de Compostela, capitale storica della Galizia. Si sono poi succedute ininterrottamente iniziative di ogni genere: assemblee, incontri, catene umane e dibattiti, fino alla grande manifestazione del 9 febbraio scorso nelle strade di A Coruña, intitolata “Salviamo il mare o non ci resta che la valigia”. Quello della Galizia è stato storicamente un popolo di emigranti ma questa volta non sembra disposto a considerare tale eventualità. Dovunque, non solo nelle manifestazioni, si percepisce la volontà dei cittadini galiziani di ottenere una rapida soluzione dei gravi problemi causati dal disastro.
Una volontà manifesta, scritta a grossi caratteri sui muri delle strade, sulle vetrine dei negozi come in quelle dei bar, sui baveri delle giacche o nei lunotti posteriori delle automobili. Una determinazione civile ed un forte impegno sociale percepibile, più che in ogni altro luogo, sui volti di queste persone.


Guardando al futuro

Italy - 2001

“Stato di allerta Bravo” avverte un cartello giallo appeso al posto di blocco all’ingresso dell’aeroporto militare di Bari-Palese. “L’allarme, però, non centra con la presenza di rifugiati nel centro d’accoglienza” spiega un militare di guardia. “Bravo indica una possibile minaccia, ed è una conseguenza della guerra in Afghanistan, non certo della gente raccolta là dentro”. Qualche centinaio di metri dopo il posto di blocco, si arriva ad una seconda recinzione che delimita la vecchia pista d’atterraggio dell’aeroporto, adibita a ricovero per gli stranieri che sbarcano sulle nostre coste. Un nastro d’asfalto lungo e stretto, costellato di roulotte sistemate gomito a gomito, in cui vivono tre o quattro persone ciascuna. Nei prati circostanti sono di guardia alcune macchine della polizia. Dentro vivono 917 persone, 487 adulti e 430 minori. Praticamente tutti i disperati passeggeri della motonave “Monica”, giunti a Catania il 18 marzo scorso.

Al di fuori della recinzione, sono sistemati i container che ospitano gli uffici di quelli che nel campo ci lavorano: croce rossa, questura, prefettura e aeronautica militare. Quest’ultima si occupa della logistica, mentre i rappresentanti del governo sono impegnati nelle pratiche burocratiche e nella gestione della sicurezza e la croce rossa provvede all’assistenza sul campo e a quella sanitaria. Un’organizzazione che sembra funzionare piuttosto bene. Il campo è pulito e ordinato, il migliore fra quelli sparsi per il meridione, dicono. Con le autorità collaborano assistenti sociali e mediatori culturali, nel tentativo di armonizzare le esigenze dei rifugiati con quelle dello Stato italiano. Gli abitanti adulti, che si dichiarano tutti irakeni (ma, probabilmente, sono in parte anche siriani e palestinesi), ricevono tre pasti caldi al giorno. I bambini, invece, hanno un regime d’alimentazione differenziato e possono accedere ai magazzini della croce rossa in qualunque momento. “Mediamente distribuiamo cinquanta litri di latte ogni mattina” afferma la responsabile del magazzino. Durante la settimana di Pasqua sono state effettuate varie distribuzioni: uova di cioccolata per i bimbi, vestiti, schede telefoniche e passeggini ai capi famiglia. Una squadra di pediatri del policlinico di Bari ha recentemente visitato i bambini e molte associazioni di volontariato si alternano nella gestione di attività ludiche ed educative per i più piccoli. “Nonostante tutto, c’è un bel clima tra di loro” dice Stefania della Fondazione Giovanni Paolo II. “Esistono delle divisioni interne – continua la volontaria – ma la gente è generalmente educata e collaborativa. Credo che l’esperienza allucinante del viaggio per raggiungere l’Italia e l’incubo comune di sfuggire a Saddam Hussein li abbia resi più uniti”.

Tra i quasi mille rifugiati, tutti intenzionati a chiedere asilo alle autorità italiane, ci sono diversità di etnie, censo ed anche religione: un’intricata situazione che complica, a volte, la convivenza. Quando c’è da protestare, però, i rifugiati sanno ritrovare la compattezza. “Poco prima di Pasqua” – racconta un responsabile della questura – “gli abitanti del campo hanno organizzato uno sciopero della fame contro la loro condizione di semi-detenzione”. Dalla Prefettura, però, assicurano che la permanenza in questo centro di accoglienza non dovrebbe durare più di un mese o due. Sembra difficile crederci, ma c’è da augurarselo. Lo spazio è angusto e, con l’arrivo del caldo, il nastro di asfalto rischia di diventare una fornace invivibile. È difficile da capire perché l’area del campo non sia stata allargata un poco, sfruttando una parte dei prati circostanti, i quali, invece, restano per i rifugiati solo un miraggio da osservare attraverso il reticolato della recinzione.

“Sono dieci anni che le regioni del sud devono continuamente affrontare un flusso di immigrati e rifugiati” – sottolinea uno degli operatori impegnati nel campo – “ma ancora mancano le strutture adeguate. Sembra sempre che si viva in uno stato di emergenza”. Effettivamente, come fa notare un visitatore, il posto “pare proprio una scatola di sardine”. Le sardine che ci abitano, però, garantiscono di “preferire aspettare per poi uscire legalmente da questa specie di prigione, piuttosto che tentare la fuga” come assicura Hassan, giovane studente di ingegneria all’università di Baghdad. Gli fa eco Zana, un commerciante di Al Basrah, torturato e imprigionato più volte dal regime irakeno: “Molti di noi hanno abbandonato tutto in patria e abbiamo pagato tremila dollari a testa per fuggire. Ora chiediamo solo protezione da parte dell’Unione Europea”.
Testo di Nicola Scevola