"Who knows!" said Salvatore. "There is a strike."
In Italy, strikes occur at any time. One year the ferries weren't running to/from Ischia on the day we were to fly home. The ferry strike was much publicized in advance, so we caught the last boat at 5:00 a.m. to make our plane at 4:00 that afternoon.
In Paris we were caught in a "manifestation" (protest demonstration) that shut down the Left Bank of the City. Workers were protesting proposed changes in French Parliament that would mean longer working hours and reduced benefits. Before our arrival this year, Air France and French garbage workers had been on strike.
In Naples in 2007 we witnessed a garbage strike. Foul-smelling piles reached to the second floor of apartment buildings and the stench spilled clear across the city to the harbor. Since the Camorra controlled garbage pickup with their ownership of transportation (trucks), dumping land, and rights to industrial waste disposal, the strike lasted well beyond our quick departure. The Camorra has ruled Naples and Campania for decades and is one of three major mafia organizations. Its profits reach into the billions from legitimate and illegitimate businesses, including toxic waste disposal across southern Italy.
Alex Pasternack, editor-at-large for www.vice.com/Motherboard, reported on February 3, 2014, that the Italian national environmentalist group Legambiente had confirmed the Camorra had dumped, burned, or buried ten million tons of toxic waste since 1991 from factories in northern Italy. The factories complied with the Camorra to defray the costs of legitimate waste disposal.
Fertile farmlands in what is known as the region of olive oil and bufala mozzarella (home to 500,000) have now become known for buried acres of rubble, mutated farm animals, and high cancer rates. Dr. Alfredo Mazza, a cardiologist who published a cancer study of the Campania region in 2004, noted tumors had increased among men by 47% within two decades and the region led the country in its infertility rate and cases of severe autism.
Under the cover of night, millions of tons of toxic garbage from as far away as Germany are dumped and guarded by Mafiosi wearing military police uniforms. Since testimony by mob informants implicated officials of Italian government at the highest levels, the testimony was kept secret until 2012.
General Sergio Costa was Naples' environmental cop in 2014. He insisted no contamination had occurred in recent years with new controls and testing. However, in December, 2013, Costa listed thirteen farm irrigation wells with higher-than-permissible levels.
According to editor-at-large Pasternack, as of 2014 the Camorra shifted toxic shipments to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and tourist-friendly Florence. They also began shipping to China and Hong Kong, solidifying their relationship with the Chinese mafia in making and selling pirated designer clothes.
In 2014 police swept down on the Camorra and seized $337 million in business assets. In Naples the same year, 100,000 residents protested the "biocide" of their region.
Today 49-year-old mayor Luigi de Magistris, a former prosecutor and member of the European Parliament, is trying to clean up Naples. Before becoming mayor, Luigi had the unwelcome task of investigating the link between the mob and kingpins in business. Although he was removed from one widely-publicized case because he leaked two defendants' names, he has somehow survived the mafia's assassins!
In a further report titled "New Generation of Young Mafia Members Terrorizing Naples" on www.vice.com/read (Sept. 30, '15), Raffaella Ferre reported the anti-mafia campaign in Naples included massive posters in the central Piazza of those murdered by the mob. However, young "Camorrists" have taken up the cause as descendants of powerful local families weakened by arrests and defectors. In June, 2015, sixty kids affiliated with the Giuliano, Sibillo, Brunetti, and Almirante mafia families were arrested. Their actions had been unpredictable, "following no rationality," making police action more difficult.
|Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples, Italy|
Whereas the "muschilli" (disposable little flies) used to begin as drug dealers or young couriers for the kingpins, today they are far more involved in gangs as freelancers who don't need to work their way up or prove themselves by committing 'o piezzo (murder). According to reporter Ferre, gangs now fight over every single street in the city.
Information on the Camorra in this blog was obtained from "Home of Olive Oil and Mozzarella Is Still the Mafia's Toxic Wasteland" by Alex Pasternack at www.vice.com/blog/Motherboard (Feb. 3, 2014) and from "New Generation of Young Mafia Members Terrorizing Naples" by Raffaella Ferre at www.vice.com/read (Sept. 30, 2015).