Italian left slams complicity of ruling class in crimes of Sicilian mafia

Left-wing groups have warned that the recent arrest of Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro—who has been a fugitive since 1993—may have been based on a covert agreement between the mafia and the ruling class

January 20, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Mafia in Italy
Matteo Messina Denaro arrested by the security forces in Palermo. (Photo: via il manifesto)

Left-wing groups in Italy have accused the ruling class of complicity in the crimes committed by the Sicilian mafia and raised concerns regarding the authenticity of the recent arrest of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro in Palermo. In a statement on January 18, Potere al Popolo (Power to the People) voiced suspicions that the much celebrated arrest of 60-year-old Messina Denaro—who remained elusive for 30 years—on January 16 happened as part of a covert agreement between the mafia and state authorities. Maurizio Acerbo from the leadership of the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) stated, “we’re always happy when a mafia boss is arrested but heavy shadows are obvious in the case involving Matteo Messina Denaro.”

Matteo Messina Denaro is a Sicilan mafia boss who has been a fugitive since 1993.  On January 16, he was arrested by the security forces from a private clinic in the Sicilan capital, where he had reportedly been undergoing chemotherapy. According to the latest reports, he has been transferred to L’Aquila Prison and now has to face trial. He has been charged with involvement in mafia activities and multiple homicides. Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has termed the arrest of Messina Denaro as “historic” and “a big blow to organized crime.”

Potere al Popolo in its statement also said that “the euphoria of the celebrations staged by big media and politicians risks overshadowing not only the legitimate doubts about the nature of the arrest, but also the systemic ties that exist today between the mafia and the ruling class of this country.”

Left-wing groups, including Potere al Popolo, the Communist Refoundation Party, and the Italian Communist Party (PCI), have pointed to an interview given two months ago by Salvatore Baiardo, a man well-connected to mafia families, who predicted the possible self-delivery—disguised as an outrageous arrest—of Messina Denaro, who is suffering from cancer.

Acerbo said that “the interview given to Massimo Giletti by Salvatore Baiardo last November anticipated what happened as a ‘nice little gift to the government’ and the result of a negotiation maybe to get the release of other bosses.”

“It’s really inappropriate to see the influx of proclamations from right-wing representatives who try to claim the merit of the capture,” he added.

Giuliano Granato from Potere al Popolo told Peoples Dispatch on January 20 that “the mafia built a system of illegal bourgeoisie inseparably interlinked with legal bourgeoisie. Italian history shows that the mafia is not a disease of a healthy organism, but the violent face of a system that represents itself as peaceful and democratic, but isn’t.”

Granato also pointed to some other examples to elucidate the connection between the mafia and the ruling class of Italy.

“Antonio D’Alí—former Senator and Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department with Forza Italia, the party of Silvio Berlusconi—was condemned by the court for his ‘availability’ (or closeness) toward the Cosa Nostra from early ’80 to the beginning of 2006.”

“The doctor who helped Messina Denaro and released his certificates was the local representative of a right-wing party.”

“Former governor of Regione Sicilia, Totò Cuffaro, representative of the former Democrazia Cristiana and then center-right parties, in 2011 was condemned to seven years of jail for ‘favoring the mafia’.”

“In 2010 a court decided the same sentence for Marcello Dell’Utri—former senator and very close to Silvio Berlusconi—on mafia charges.”

“There is a whole economic, political, and bureaucratic system linked with the mafia. These are just a few names, but there are thousands of people, including in [the] police forces, involved with mafias all over Italy,” Granato added.

Mafia groups have wrought much destruction on the peace and livelihoods of the Italian people, especially in Sicily. Communists and trade unions have also been subject to repeated threats and attacks from the mafia groups over the last century.