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by Euro Reporter
2013-02-17 10:45:13
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Cross border action to tackle the mafia

Two years ago, one of Italy’s most powerful crime groups, the ‘Ndrangheta, found some 40 of its associates put behind bars in the capital of the southern province Reggio Calabria. Most of them were businessmen, one of them a lawyer. But where the big gangs before had regularly tried to kill each other, now they were working with each other. Anti-mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso described this as an evolution of the many-headed organised crime enemy, which seems constantly to reinvent itself in Italy.  Grasso said: “The inquiry reconstructs the criminal relations in Reggio Calabria. From this has emerged a united management of illicit business, which works in favour of all the gangs sharing the profits.”

Their illegal activities are estimated to generate a turnover equivalent to 1.7 per cent of Italy’s total combined national income.  A report using Interior Ministry and transnational crime research data also says the Camorra’s revenues are 3.75 billion, ‘Ndrangheta’s around 3.5 billion and Cosa Nostra’s nearly 1.9 billion Euros.  Transcrime Findings also cites the Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta together account for 70 per cent of all Italy’s criminal organisations, with Cosa Nostra accounting for 18%.  The mafia also continues to try to infiltrate legal economic activity, such as fruit and vegetable distribution in 2010. The big three groups attempted to monopolise production in the south of Italy. Chief Anti-Mafia Prosecutor in Naples Giandomenico Lepore said: “In the lower Lazio region we started seeing the Caselesi clan working with the Sicilian Mafia, interfering with the fruit and vegetable market in Fondi, one of the biggest distributors in Italy.”

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Italy’s migrant ‘slavery’

There is something important in the Italian election political campaign that some critics claim the authorities are refusing to see: tens of thousands of migrant agricultural workers. We focus on Calabria, where they have been coming for years, yet their arrival is still treated as a surprise – an emergency. A form of slavery, the critics say, is thriving in Italy, with immigrants who work the orange harvest in Calabria. Many of the workers say it is worse each year. There were riots over the conditions three years ago, and today the environment in Rosarno has not changed.  From October to March almost 4,000 migrants still live in abandoned houses or makeshift camps and work ten hours a day. Where global prices have pity for no one, it’s an economic interest that feeds off the workers.

“I go out looking, like on an adventure,” said Tounda. “There’s no guarantee you’ll actually be given any work.”
“And if you find someone?
“Then he takes me for the day.”
“For how much?”
“Twenty-five Euros.”
Amnesty International confirms that the widespread exploitation of foreign migrant workers in Italy means they often receive less than 40 per cent of the legal minimum wage. That’s if they are hired – and the work is hard. Saving what they earn is even harder.

Toure said: “You might work for two days, then have nothing for three days. That way you spend everything you’ve earned.” Orange fraud and corruption developed in Calabria decades ago. Land use, fruit production, processing and exports were all falsified, to benefit from EU subsidies. The authorities investigated criminal organisations and public officials on a massive scale in the last decade.  Today this is a relative backwater of the global economy. Farmers in this area now have to accept a price of 25 cents per kilo of oranges or 8 cents for a litre of juice – from a very few big buyers, including Coca Cola. Without the migrant workers, the fruit is left to rot. A sociologist at the University of Messina, Fabio Mostaccio, said: “Farmers have to accept the prices established by the industry, that does not want to pay more. And that is why we get the exploitation of foreign workers. Labourers were exploited 50 years ago, and it is still happening today. Once they were locals, now they are foreigners.”

This very low-cost labour is like oxygen for the local economy. But there is no policy to take care of the workers when the arrive. The system has mostly been just to look the other way. The government did build a camp in February last year, and that was rapidly doubled in size by do-it-themselves workers. More than 700 were living under plastic sheeting until, in December, after a rainstorm, the mayor felt he had to act.

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Italy youth unemployment feeds black market for labour

Young people in Italy are finding it more and more difficult to make their way into the job-market. Nationwide, unemployment is on the rise, and young people are the worst hit by the crisis. Youth unemployment has reached a peak of 37 percent.

The problem is worst in the south, where the textile and furniture industries have been hard hit. While some move north in search of better job prospects, others decide to stay and often end up working in the black labour market.

For many young people, illegal jobs are their first and only work experience. In these times of crisis, many companies only hand out part-time contracts. Others opt for redundancy fund schemes or close down. The abusive use of redundancy fund schemes creates a vicious circle that feeds the black labour market. Employees are left in limbo between work and unemployment. Many of them turn to illegal work: the number of people on the black labour market is on the rise and represents 40 percent of the total labour market according to experts.

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Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a 'necessary part of business' and tells critics to 'stop moralising'


Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies. The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’. Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy. Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract. The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report. ‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3. ‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria. Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business. ‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.  ‘It’s pure masochism.'  Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’. ‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’ His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul's business dealings. The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition. His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister. Just last month an Italian court granted his defence team's request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.  Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.


         
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Emanuel Paparella2013-02-17 12:42:23
Organized crime, youth unemployment, migrant slavery, Berlusconi’s defense of globalized unethical business practices and one is bound to begin suspecting that globalization is not all that is cracked out to be and needs to have its premises examined under the light of reason.


Leah Sellers2013-02-17 22:27:34
Societal Environments, Conditions, Circumstances and Economies Create Criminals. No one is immune to the Dis-eases of dire Poverty, Starvation and Homelessness.
All Societies must hold themselves accountable for their Creation and struggle to take the Necessary Benevolent and Practicle steps to end those Dis-eases.
A Wealthy Leader/Corporate Mogul or Banker Crook/Thief is far worse in moral character than a Poor Human Crook/Thief just trying to Survive and/or Feed and Protect their Family. The Sins are the same, but the overall Societal Ripple Effects/Affects are far more corrupting and annihilating when it comes from the places society deems with Power and Stature. It more quickly and irreparably unravels the Tapestry of Civilization(s).


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