Post-Fascist Revival

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Post-Fascist Revival

Post  kosovohp on Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:23 pm

In 1943, nearly half a million Allied troops invaded Sicily; the crime rate soared in the upheaval and chaos. Many inmates escaped from their prisons, banditry returned and the black market thrived.[11] During the first six months of Allied occupation, party politics in Sicily was banned.[80] As Fascist mayors were deposed, the Allies simply appointed replacements. Many turned out to be mafiosi, such as Calogero Vizzini and Giuseppe Genco Russo.[81][82] They could easily present themselves as political dissidents,[83] and their anti-communist position made them further desirable.

The changing economic landscape of Sicily would shift the Mafia's power base from the rural to the urban. The Minister of Agriculture – a communist – pushed for reforms in which peasants were to get larger shares of produce, be allowed to form cooperatives and take over badly used land, and remove the system by which leaseholders (known as "gabelloti") could rent land from landowners for their own short-term use.[84] Owners of especially large estates were to be forced to sell off their excess land. The Mafia, which had connections to many landowners, murdered many socialist reformers. In the end, though, they couldn't stop the process, and many landowners chose to sell their land to mafiosi, who offered more money than the government.[85]

After the war, the Italian government poured public money into rebuilding Sicily, leading to a big construction boom. In 1956, two Mafia-connected officials, Vito Ciancimino and Salvatore Lima, took control of Palermo's Office of Public Works. Between 1959 and 1963, about 80% of building permits were given to just five people, none of whom represented major construction firms and were probably Mafia frontmen.[86] Construction companies unconnected with the Mafia were forced to pay protection money. Many buildings were illegally constructed before the city's planning was finalized. In 1982, the antimafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone noted:

Mafia organizations entirely control the building sector in Palermo – the quarries where aggregates are mined, site clearance firms, cement plants, metal depots for the construction industry, wholesalers for sanitary fixtures, and so on.[87]
—Giovanni Falcone, 1982

In the 1950s, a crackdown in the United States on drug trafficking led to the imprisonment of many American mafiosi. Furthermore, Cuba, a major hub for drug smuggling, fell to Fidel Castro. This prompted the American mafia boss Joseph Bonanno to return to Sicily in 1957 to franchise out his heroin operations to the Sicilian clans. Anticipating rivalries for the lucrative American drug market, he negotiated the establishment of a Sicilian Mafia Commission to mediate disputes.

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