Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Eternal corruption in the Eternal City?"

From al-Jazeera America:
In July, The New York Times and Le Monde published articles about Rome, pointing out the degradation of the city, the inefficiency of public transport and the lawless behavior of some of its residents before the Roman Catholic Church’s forthcoming Jubilee of Mercy, which is expected to attract millions of tourists and pilgrims beginning in December. Romans were naturally annoyed by this portrayal, and debates in social networks and local newspapers ensued.

Only there is cause to worry about Rome, and one need look no further than the Hollywood- and Mafia-style funeral of local mobster Vittorio Casamonica, a member of the relatively unknown (at least nationally) Casamonica family. His funeral on Aug. 20, which made headlines in the national and international press, featured an unauthorized helicopter flying over the city, a carriage pulled by horses, an orchestra playing music from “The Godfather” and banners displaying “King of Rome” and “You conquered Rome, now you will conquer paradise.” The procession consisted of a Rolls Royce, 250 other luxury cars and various helmetless motorbikers; it caused a traffic jam and provoked people to blame the authorities for the absurd and disruptive spectacle.

Many politicians have suggested that the Mafia was confined to southern Italian areas, but over the years, this Roman organization has built an empire. Many of its members declared salaries below the poverty line in their tax returns, with some claiming to have earned no money at all; in reality, their activities and those of their 1,000 affiliates produced an average of 40 million euros per annum. In 2013 state authorities confiscated a discotheque and 23 villas while trying to monitor the group’s alleged investments in Luxembourg and Monaco....MORE