The Mafia

The Mafia

The Mafia, a well-known crime organization,
is still prevalent in society today. In the past five years the Sicilian

Mafia has taken some heavy hits, with the murders of two leading prosecutors
in Mafia-related trials (Coming back). The prosecutors were Giovanni

Falcone ( see picture), and Paulo Borsellino. Their successors have managed
to put behind bars their murderers and an entire Mafia "cupola" ( Coming

Back). So what exactly is the Mafia? And where did it originate?

The word "Mafia" has two meanings, one
is that it means "manly" and the other is " Morte alla Franca Italia

Anela" which means, " death to France is Italyís cry" ( Mafia History).

The meaning came from the fact that Italians more specifically Sicilians,
had to adapt to numerous invasions from Arabs, Normanís and the French.

The word Mafia in Arab also means refuge. The original inhabitants of Sicily
were oppressed and had to seek places of shelter and refuge ( Arlacchi
). The Normanís when invading Sicily in the 11th century; the native people
were forced into labor on the large estates their rulers made. Their
only way of escape was to seek shelter in the hills on the island of Sicily
( refer to picture of Corleone). There in the hills the natives formed

" Secret societies " that were meant
to unify the natives against their enemies. The societies created
a bond or strong sense of family based on their Sicilian heritage ( Mafia


Their societies began to form structure
and the idea of family was carried out through this framework. The layout
was strongly hierarchical. At the head of the organizations were Dons or
chiefs, who were in supreme control of the Mafia chapters in each village
( Coming Back ). They however reported to the " don of dons" who lived
in the capital of Sicily, the city of Palermo. Mafia leadership is
the "Cupola" much like a board of directors ( blumenthal p14).

The Mafia Dons never really got into the actual "business" they were involved
in as not to get their hands dirty. They formed individual units called

Caporegime that answered to the Don. The Caporegime controlled the"soldiers" or workers that did the dirty work of collecting debts and even
murder (Arlacchi 23). " Joining the Mafia is a lifetime commitment
stronger than family from which you cannot retire, you are bound by blood
and sworn by secrecy ( Mafia History)." To join the Mafia you must take
an oath based on five principals. The Omerta, is the first principal it
is the code of silence that no matter what, even under the threat of torture
or death, you will reveal no secrets. Second you must pledge total obedience
to your don. Third you must lend assistance to any befriended Mafia faction.

Fourth you must vow to avenge any attack on members of the family, " an
attack on one is an attack on all." Fifthly and the most important is to
avoid any and all contact with the law ( Mafia History).

By the 19th century the Mafia had grown
vast and strong. It had once been a small group of rebels that had turned
into a large criminal society ( I.O.C.G). In these early times of the Mafia
the most common form of extortion was the handing out of "Black Hand Notes."

These notes were handed to wealthy citizens, and were sincere requests
for large sums of money in exchange for some form of protection. If the
victims did not comply with the note, they could expect bombings, kidnappings,
and murders to help convince them ( Mafia History). In 1876 a Mafia don

Raffeale Palizzo ran for political office to infiltrate Sicilian government,
and run it from inside and outside the law. He succeeded in getting elected
by holding many voters under gunpoint. Inside the government he had Don

Crispi of Sicily elected Prime minister. Twenty-six hundred public administrators
were indicted for corruption and other crimes in Sicily ( Arlacchi 28-29).

The whole island had come under Mafia control and they began to suck national
funds into their hands.

Yet the Mafia was and always will be opposed
by some people or organizations. Opposition to the Mafia was always met
with violence ( Blumenthal 7). A well-known example of this, is the case
of a man Emanuel Notarbartolo who was the director of the bank in Sicily.

Emanuel publicly announced that he promised to rid the land of the Mafia
once and for all. In 1893 he was assassinated, and don Palizzo took over
his position. This was not the end though, Notarbartoloís son vowed