Hic Sicily, hic we jump

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Italy will not change until Sicily changes.
Today Italy has a great opportunity, a great person: Rita Borsellino, as President of the Region of Sicily. Rita is annoying to the right and perhaps above all to the left.
I invite those who know me, who believe in a new Italian Renaissance, anyone who wants a true change for this country to support her publicly.
Below there’s a letter from Palermo about the forthcoming Regional elections. 

“With bare hands the magistrates were killed. With bare hands the Police and the Carabinieri searched among the craters left by the explosions for the bodies of their colleagues. With bare hands the courageous priests were abandoned in their suburbs and then killed or transferred. With bare hands young people cultivate the land that has been confiscated from the Mafia only to see their crops destroyed. With bare hands other young people move away. With bare hands journalists, entrepreneurs and free thinkers have died.
With bare hands we women and men of Sicily turn out onto the streets to talk to people, to help the women and their children in the suburbs, those who are homeless, and the migrants. With bare hands we fight the mafia to the best of our ability, as we have always done.

The mafia that we breathe in the air filled with gases from the eco-mafia, that oils the few coins and bank notes in our pockets, that looks after our children in its school buildings, that treats us in its medical centres. It is the mafia that with the addition of the “pizzo” increases the price of things we consume, the mafia that infiltrates into a willing bureaucracy that leads people to be resigned to ask for a favour in exchange for a vote. The favour is in fact something to which they have a clear right. It is the mafia that nestles in the lack of care taken of our monuments and in the construction of buildings abusively.

With bare hands we remain alone and we loose political battles that are fought with unequal weapons. With bare hands we remain invisible to the leaders of the Centre Left. With bare hands we have identified the ideal candidate to be president of the Region of Sicily. With bare hands we have established the primary elections to choose the coalition candidate. With bare hands we won. With bare hands we are trying to win the regional elections. With bare hands our candidate, with angelic and super-human force, using the weapons of transparency and honesty for months has been travelling the roads of Sicily talking to people in any position, even from the top of a lorry and there where she manages to arrive, she is loved by everyone. Her honest clean face shines out from our walls even when overshadowed by gigantic images of the numerous adversaries. There are too many of them and their images are too big. We have only the sheets from the balconies to stand against them.
We could even loose if you all don’t realise that the battle is for all of us to engage in. The world is watching us. Foreign journalists are coming here. They are curious about these strange elections that have been made even more emblematic by the arrest of the boss Provenzano.
The Centre Right knows that these elections are enormously important. In fact they are deploying unimaginable forces. Sicily is their last or strongest fortress and these elections can enforce or weaken the legs of the new national Centre Left government. Do we, do you, fully comprehend this You loose when you are alone. And we want to be alone never again. An election is lost when our leaders think that it’s possible to win by holding meetings in the last few days with a few posters on the street. It’s obvious that that is not enough and our defeats are testimony to that. We need the help of everyone. We need you. We need you to come in mass to live our spring of political passion: leaders, directors, Centre Left activist, intellectuals, artists, show people, honest people. Come with us into the streets and talk to the people. Come and sing, recite, hold meetings standing on chairs, loose your throats with a megaphone travelling round in a car. If you have the influence to be heard, make public appeals from the pages of national newspapers. Or contact friends, relatives and people you know in Sicily. Convince them to vote for Rita Borsellino and to put out white sheets from the balcony with the following wording on them: RITA PRESIDENTE!."

Palermo, 21 April 2006

Mariadele Cipolla, XX Settembre Committee for Rita as President

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Hello my name is Merle Dean Shamblin and I would like to be your new friend. I sure could use somebody to chat with. I am a 47 year old long haul truck driver who currently lives in Duncan Oklahoma. Dec 8th 1960 I was born in Fairview Oklahoma. Moved to Caddo and Washita counties where I attended school at Colony Hydro and Weatherford. My parents Malvin and Wanda Shamblin were cotton and peanut farmers. Dad died in 99 from lung cancer. Graduated from SWOSU with a business degree. My two sisters are LaDonna Hubert and Malva Burrahm. Dennis is my brother. I have been a truck driver for 14 years and have driven 2 million paid miles. I have received many safe driving awards over the years. I am single and have never been married. I have a wide range of interests and am pretty much an open book. Currently I drive a 2006 Freightliner for a major carrier. I dont go to Canada very often. I dont have a dedicated route so I run the entire lower 48. I enjoy reading cinema music sports travel etc. I am gay and versatile.

Posted by: Merle Shamblin | November 12, 2008 10:15 PM

Buon giorno,
I was in Catania recently and saw the Grillo posters for the election. I have a friend here, in the US, Charles Grillo, and would love to have a copy of your poster to give to him.

Is it possible to get a Grillo poster from you.


Posted by: marilyn hoskins | October 27, 2008 10:57 PM

This is slightly off-topic BUT I couldn't resist.
Friday night (28 April) at the Tribeca Film Festival here in New York, I saw "Viva Zapatero," Sabina Guzzanti's wonderful documentary about censorship and the eroding of free expression in Italy, and the effect on Italian democracy (or what's left of it). Beginning from her own experience with her show "RAIot" being cancelled, Guzzanti makes a devastating case not only against Berlusconi and his fascistic regime but also against the useless official Left (D'Alema, Prodi, ecc)who actually have enabled Berlusconi and his cronies to censor and deny information to the Italian public.

The documentary is infuriating and depressing at times. But it is also very funny. Guzzanti is hilarious; her wit is her best weapon. And our bravissimo Beppe makes a great appearance, chastising Italian journalists and urging them to rebel.

Furio Colombo, formerly of Unita, also says some great things.

Guzzanti appeared at the screening and took questions from the audience. There were some Italians there, and unfortunately they asked some ridiculous questions: "What is the message of your film?" To which an astonished Guzzanti said, sarcastically, "My message? Oh, don't forget to brush your teeth."

I heard several people say afterwards, "Who was the guy with the curly hair and the beard? He was great!"

It was my privilege to say, "That was Beppe Grillo, a brilliant satirist and activist."

I asked Guzzanti why don't she and Beppe start a new political movement or even party. She said that wasn't for her, but she thinks Beppe might do this.

Beppe???? Che cosa dici???

Posted by: George De Stefano | May 1, 2006 09:33 PM

To George DeStefano

First of all, I'm sorry for my delay of this answer to you.
You are perfectly right on what you said.
My impression is that today, with everything at stack in our future, there is no distinction between those parties because in the last 5-6 years, despite the different ideology, there is too much mediocrity and in this situation it's easy for anybody to drive following his/her own agenda rather than the people's.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | May 1, 2006 06:37 PM

There is no hope in Sicily. I love Sicily, it is my land, the land where I was born and hopefully the land where one day I will want to die.
It is also the land where the people always have voted in block for dodgy figures, Andreotti in the past, Berlusconi now. The first one, if he was like a plane and they would open his black box, the things that would come out of it would re-write entirely the last 60 years of italian history; the second one with his smile is fucking everybody, he is like those tricksters that tell you jokes and make you laugh and at the same time they are steeling your wallet from you pocket.

Posted by: Carmelo Abbate | April 29, 2006 06:44 PM

Grazie della risposta Joselle.

How is life treating me here in the USA?
I would be a lot happier if Signor Bush was sent back to his ranch in Texas. I don't know how I -- we-- can stand three more years of this disaster.

I am glad to be in NYC. It is a great cosmopolitan city, and there are many Italian cultural opportunities. But money rules here, and the real estate industry, with the support of our billionaire mayor, is making the city too expensive for many. Bloomberg is not Bush (he would never be elected if he was) but he is no progressive either.

La lotta continua!

Posted by: George De Stefano | April 26, 2006 01:28 AM

Oh yes, I'm a night fly!
Good night to you! ;-)

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 26, 2006 01:02 AM

Dear Raffaella,

We might appear to be on different planes but, believe me, we agree on many things! We might not hold the same political beliefs though I think we are closer than can be seen in writing.

Like you, what I really enjoy here is the fact that we can communicate, discuss, take different standpoints and yet do it intelligently, without being vulgar or, as you deftly pointed out, without being stupid.

You are up late tonight Raffaella, a nightbird like me!! :-)))

Take care, stay safe and have a wonderful week.

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 26, 2006 12:55 AM

Dear George,

I understand all your arguments in your post, and I assure you that I do really understand what you want to impart and that an alternative is needed. What is always a shame is the fact that, time and time again, genuine people have been crushed by the system. This is what is so disheartening in politics. As you know there are no hard and fast rules, no drastic remedies... change is a slow and painful process, sometimes, as Nanni Nigito said... it entails shedding off our selfishness and embracing all that change brings with it, even personal sacrifice sometimes.

I agree with you that Sicily needs fresh blood, someone who is NOT Cuffaro, for Christ's sake. He is one of the most unpleasant political figures on the Sicilian scene, he is not in any of my good books! I can understand the delusion that your university friends have. I too have direct contact with university students - these young people hold no illusions. Many of them have to be content with the meanest of jobs simply because there is nothing available for them. If unemployment is about 8%, it verges closer to 30% in Sicily and, of course, many know why this is happening.

I honestly hope that should Rita Borsellino become President of the Sicilian region, then maybe something starts moving in the right direction. Progress in the real sense of the word is always welcome.

Just an aside comment, out of topic but in good spirit, I hope life is treating you well in the USA. My experience of the US limits itself to a six-month exchange programme in Florida and that was a good many years ago. Wish you a wonderful week.

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 26, 2006 12:51 AM

I think there is only two kinds of people: the intelligent ones and the stupids. Intelligent people may be very different: they can be left wingers or right wingers, they can believe in God or be atheists, but they will always find a way to communicate and to make himself understood.
I like to share my opinions with intelligent people like you Joselle, even if we think different!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 26, 2006 12:46 AM

Dear Joselle,
Please do not assume I am a fan of Bill Clinton or the Democratic Party! I have no love for either, believe me!

My politics are Left -- anticapitalist, socialist, secular. If I lived in Italy I'd probably be a member of Rifo, but no doubt I'd be arguing and fighting with them.

I don't question the accuracy of many of your observations but I don't see the political utility of them. What is your point, exactly? That politics is a nasty business and that decent individuals who go into it can be manipulated and hurt? Hasn't that always been true, regardless of time and place?

Let's talk specifically about Sicilia. For too long it has been misruled, subject to political oppression, economic exploitation, the scourge of the Mafia, excessive religiosity, cultural conservatism, etc. And it is a shame and scandal that so many honest and talented Sicilians must leave their homeland to have a decent life. I have several friends who teach at the University at Catania and it breaks their hearts that so many of their students come to them asking where they can go to actually make use of their education and training.

I am not under the illusion that the election of one progressive woman could change all that. But wouldn't you rather have Rita Borsellino as Sicily's president than Salvatore Cuffaro? As Nanni Nigito says, "Rita Borsellino embodies the hope of change and the renewal of Sicilian politics." That to me is sufficient reason to support her, without all this equivocation.

I urge you and everyone else to go to her campaign's website. Read the content of the thematic areas, the programma she and her campaign have developed in meetings and various consultations with Sicilians throughout the island. This is the approach of the social movement left, not that of the traditional parties. Which is all to the good, in my opinion.

Posted by: George De Stefano | April 25, 2006 11:23 PM

I am one of those of plenty of Sicilians emigrated as the curiosity to see how the things work beyond the Sicilian canal has been stronger that we are. We emigrated because Sicily was too tight for our professional ambitions. We emigrated because we didn’t like the fact we are forced to make compromises with the political power in order to have a job or a decent life. We emigrated because we believed that staying there wouldn’t have allowed us to obtain a good education and some modest professional skills. Surely staying far from Sicily has given a lot but that has required sacrifices and economic resources. After having invested a lot outside it is unthinkable to go back and settle down there again. And this is a pity for Sicily.
By reading the posts I was quite surprised in seeing that many of you have a good knowledge of Sicilian politics as well as Italian one. Rita Borsellino embodies the hope of change and the renewal of Sicilian politics. But I believe, as many of you have already expressed, that the democratic and political renewal starts from the bottom, instead from the top. In Sicily, as in many parts of the South, the change can be put into effect not only with a strong ruling class, but above all with a wider public participation. We Sicilian have to understand the our familism will lead us nowhere, that we have to sacrifice our personal mean interests and give more to our community if we want things to change. We have to stop to rely on others and wait for the change.

My blog at http://public-sphere.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Nanni Nigito | April 25, 2006 10:23 PM

Dear Raffaella,

If we could be a-party and a-political it would be Utopia. How hard it is, I realise, not to take a side but not because one does not have an ideology...

Politics, however, have tainted the purest of ideologies. I know that Ms Borsellino has many good qualities and I admire her courage. It would be wonderful if she could bring about change... though I would like to see change happening all over Italy!

Have a nice week Raffaella :-))))

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 25, 2006 09:20 PM

I would like to comment about some comments made by George De Stefano. Believe me, George, that I was not lecturing. I was simply stating a point. You know that eradicating the Mafia and various forms of corruption requires a mentality change. The change has to come from the inside, something which, allow me to add, is going to be very hard when you consider that about 59% of the votes in the last elections went to the Rightist parties.

It is very hard to convince people when you are tagged with a political bandwaggon, especially if that bandwaggon happens to be the one on the opposite side.

The title of this blog makes me worry a bit. Few bloggers here seem to realise that what is being put in discussion is that Sicily must change for Italy to change. I dare challenge anyone here... pray, how will Italy change if Sicily changes? Will there be more full-time jobs so that black labour will be finally eradicated? Will there be less criminals on the road? Will there be no Mafia anywhere else in Italy? Will Italians have better paid jobs, less taxes and more money in their pockets so that they can feed better their children? Will the whole health system function better? Is everybody going to get equal rights for the equal duties asked? Will everybody suddenly become clean and free of corruption? Will the Mafias in the other regions of Italy disappear?

Sicily could change, yes... but you know that this region cannot simply change because an honourable lady like Rita Borsellino is going to be President of the Region. A change may be possible if everybody wants it, and by everybody I mean the vast majority, not a 0,5% difference.

Let us face it, Sicily could do with a change but it appears not to be in the interest of any government to change this beauty. Instead, help goes elsewhere or, worse still, help never arrives.

I happen to know Ragusa, Siracusa, and the depressed areas of Catania like I know the other part of Sicily, I am talking from my experience and my perceptions which are not tainted by Italian politics. For goodness' sake, I live here! I do not know if you have been away from Sicily a long time, or whether you are in the USA by choice or whatever. I am here because my nuclear family is here. I am here with my eyes open and live here with a love for this island which is really a big love.

When you mention certain incidents about the gay man's driving licences being withdrawn, etc. I am not surprised at all. I have had a couple of interesting incidents myself in Sicily, but even a couple of more stupid instances in other parts of Italy like Florence and Treviso.

Since you are living in the USA, you yourself can attest to the political manipulation that happens out there, the political divide of a few votes. Democrats felt cheated because of a few votes a few years ago. History has a strange way of repeating itself, somehow. Yet, honestly speaking, can you, with hand on heart, state that the Democrats did not engage in politics that were absolutely dirty? Do you remember 1998 when Clinton faced Impeachment? Do you remember how he got the vote of confidence? Oh yes, of course you do remember that he went and threw a few bombs on Iraq, claiming that the Iraqi regime was a potential hazard and that he had to clamp down on regimes that intended to develop dangerous armaments. [He might not have believed it, but he duped the American Senate then... or, as I tend to believe, the Senate was relieved there was diverson and saved its face!]

Political manipulation, by the way, is not relegated to any one country. Politics often go hand in hand with negotiations with the shadiest of characters. Andrea Camilleri said that it was virtually impossible for Provenzano to be on the run for 43 years without the help and knowledge of some "benefactor", and I am sure that this "holy person" is high up in the political scene. I totally agree, even with the statement that the arrest was a "mise-en-scène" to put into question once more the electoral results.

I said earlier, it is not that I put Rita Borsellino in question. I admire her, I like her ways, I like her charisma and her capabilities... I am simply aware of the way politics work and how, alas, great persons have been treated unkindly, very often, by the very same parties they represented. I would not wish this to happen to a person who has genuinely presented herself to represent Sicilians.

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 25, 2006 09:17 PM

George de Stefano:
I agree with your point of view.
We are so accustomed to associate politics and corruption & dishonesty, that we are inclined to think that it's all the same old drag. That may be right, but it's a little oversimplifying.
We must go back to the real meaning of politics, namely the confrontation between different points of view and social patterns.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 25, 2006 07:20 PM

Individual integrity and competence of course are important. But individual politicians belong to parties or to lists, do they not? And do they not belong to particular parties or lists because those parties represent (however imperfectly) their interests?

I have heard this argument that "Left" and "Right" do not matter. That is just not true. I live in Bush's America, where ideology and the Left/Right divide do indeed matter very much. (I just wish that we had a strong Left that fought for the things the Left is supposed to fight for -- social and economic justice, civil liberties, a non-interventionist, anti-imperialist foreign policy, separation of church and state, etc.) And they do in Italy, too -- don't kid yourself that they don't. The notion that politics should or can be ideologically disinterested and focused solely on competence is a fantasy.

Posted by: George De Stefano | April 25, 2006 07:03 PM

Prince, a crook is just a crook, that's right, but the mafia is istorically in cahoots with the power. We had 50 years DC power in Italy.....

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 25, 2006 07:01 PM

The point is not being from Left or Right.
It is just being honest and systematical.

You want to know why?

Because a crook is just a crook and will turn everything FUBAR indipendently from which side he/she works for.

Just pay attention to the person,not to the party.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | April 25, 2006 06:40 PM

Well said, Raffaella. This notion that one can be above politics or ideology is absurd. Certainly the Right would never share that belief.

I find some of these posts disheartening. Rita Borsellino can't solve all of Sicily's problems going back to pre-Roman times so why vote for her. She is part of the centrosinistra, so don't support her. Prodi and the centrists made bad policy. (No argument there). So don't bother voting for anyone. This is all a recipe for political paralysis, and one that the Right finds very tasty.

I don't quite understand the point of Joselle Camilleri's lecture. I don't need to be informed about eastern Sicily as my family is from Ragusa and Siracusa. I myself prefer Sicilia orientale to occidentale, but so what? The eastern part of the island has its problems, too, including poverty and underdevelopment (much lavoro nero), drugs, mafia. Catania, which is where I generally stay when I am in Sicily, has had a lot of Mafia problems, as well as reactionary governance. And there is the dead hand of tradition weighing on many lives, including the intrusiveness of the Church, with its misogyny, homophobia and general anti-sexual ideology, as well as superstition that is waning but still very much present.

Last year, in the province of Catania, a young gay man actually had his driver's license confiscated because some conservative, Catholic bureaucrat felt that homosexuals were mentally ill and should not be allowed to drive! This decision was overturned, but the fact that such things can still occur (along with honor killings, which though much rarer than in the past, also still occur) indicates that yes, ignorance persists.

And please, don't act as if you'd made this stunning discovery that mafia is not limited to Sicily or that its tentacles reach into the highest levels of business, finance, and government. Everyone knows this. It is hardly news. As Andrea Camilleri wrote in a commentary that appeared last week in the New York Times, Bernardo Provenzano could not have eluded capture for 43 years if he had not been protected by powerful interests. That organized crime exists in a symbiotic relationship with capitalism and (conservative) politics, on both local and national levels, is a well-established fact.

You speak of Sicily's resources and natural wealth. Yes, of course, many want to exploit that, and not for the benefit of the majority of the Sicilian populace. Again, this is hardly news. So what is to be done about it? Become cynical and say nothing can be done? Engage in politically pointless fantasies about a "Lega Sud," a new "regno delle due Sicilie," etc., or actually build a movement for genuine development and justice, as Rita Borsellino and her supporters are trying to do?

One of the things I find most appealing about Rita is that she is not from the "partitocrazia" but instead comes from the social movement Left. She forced the centrosinistra to take her seriously. They have had to jump on her bandwagon, although some forces on the Left, i.e., the DS, haven't exactly been supportive. Mariadele Cipolla's comments about Rita annoying the Left reflect this fact, i.e., that she is not a party hack.

Rita's election will in no way solve all of Sicily's many problems. But it will have tremendous symbolic and psychological value as well as some limited but nonetheless genuine practical impact. Just look at how she has conducted her campaign, building the programma through dialogue in meetings with Sicilians all over the island. This is democracy in action. Her candidacy certainly seems to me the most hopeful sign for Sicily in quite some time.

Posted by: George De Stefano | April 25, 2006 04:42 PM

Joselle: you said it would be better for Sicily if Rita Borsellino was "a-political" but only "sicilian". I think it's impossibile to be a -political, because when you try do something against mafia you must on the one hand, clamp down the connections between entrepreneurs and mafiosi, on the other hand you must offer young sicilians a job opportunity and a future without to need to be recruited from Cosa Nostra. That's politics, because you must take sides. The opposite from politics is political indifference (qualunquismo in italian). I can agree with you if you would say, instead a-political, a-PARTY political, that means without to be subject to parties-logical and interests. That's would be good, but,unfortunetly, so difficult alike.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 25, 2006 03:12 PM

I think that is more a question of "borsa" then Borsellino. Must be difficult for investors to imagine that they will be not racketed if they go to open a businnes in Sicily. The public authorities are the same since they saw that the money which has been sent desappeared on the way. . .
An english writer said something about:
-When I go to London from Africa and I stop in Sicily I already feel my self in Europe.
-When from London I go in the south and I stop in Sicily I feel myself already in Africa:-)

Posted by: blisco jaio | April 25, 2006 02:15 PM

Sorry Maria Consuelo, I got your name wrong before, calling you Manuela... my mistake!

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 25, 2006 01:42 PM

To Manuela Spera I say, OK, keep hoping... if you think that a radical change will happen, I assure you it will not happen for the simple reason that political parties did very little to help Sicily in the employment field.

You say I might not know what has happened in the past years, but I assure you I do know!! I have also been victim of the ESE (European School Of Economics) scam in Catania where the interests of most lecturers were trampled upon, and many lecturers like me have had nothing but problems to deal with, Italian employers who took millions of lire in school fees and paid nothing to their workers because they make you sign a contract where you get paid after you finish your work, the so called Contratto di Prestazione d'Opera...

You say you worked for a low pay... I tell you I worked for a whole year WITHOUT getting paid because of the many loopholes that the so called "contratti di lavoro" precedent to 2002 put workers to the extremes. This is what the Centro Sinistra has given to its potential voters in Sicily... that same Sinistra that should have its workers at heart.

I assure you that I am not talking from a partisan point of view. I still believe that Rita Borsellino would be stronger and more credible to most Sicilians if she is a-political in the sense that she is neither Left nor Right... but SICILIAN. Her voice as a member of the Leftist government will be overwhelmed by the noise that the other politcians (even in her own party) would make to suffocate her, trust me.

I am not putting Borsellino's integrity in question, just her political choice.

Best regards, Maria Consuelo.

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 25, 2006 01:40 PM

I think i need to add a little something
Who said that the centre left government has done nothing for Sicily?
He / she is probably not aware of the two different working plans for young people thet the cntre-left came up with, which me and my brother in law both used to find a job.
My brother in law is higly deceived with the people he is working for and with
I already left the job i was in (Travel agent in RICHICHI'S TRAVEL BUREAU) for a simple reason:
A COUNTRY IS MADE UP BY ITS PEOPLE...and this rule applies to all the countries around the WHOLE world.
My employer was only taking advantage of the tax reductions that BORSA LAVORO gave him and i left him before the five years were over coz my cousin had tipped me he would have to pay all VAT back to the government if i did so.I was doing mostly all of the 'guided tours' at a very low pay, upsetting many of my former collegues and MYSELF as i hadn't chosen to leave my previous work coz i didn't like it ( it is very rewarding moneywise ), but coz i wanted to progress in the industry!!!!
AGAIN, i do believe RITA BORSELLINO will try to do her best for my home country. I BELIEVE IN HER.
What i really fear is the souls (if any left) of the sicilian people

Posted by: Maria Consuelo Spera | April 25, 2006 01:24 PM

I haven't read the article yet, but if u cannot trust THE Wallet(little joke with the family name, sorry) whoelse can you trust?
But on the other side being Sicilian and in my home country for the elections, i was HUGELY deceived in noting that once again SICILY had mostly voted for PBerlusconi....(54% of the sicilian votes went to his party)

Posted by: Maria Consuelo Spera | April 25, 2006 01:01 PM

I was not going to write a comment, at first, on this blog because I thought I'd keep my distances being a foreigner who lives in Sicily. My husband is Sicilian and my children born here and I have amassed a vast experience, a true experience living on this soil to be able to speak sensibly about the Italian issue.

I have been living in Sicily for the past six or seven years, and I have to make a few comments, albeit that comments can be made, there is nothing to lose, but I am sure nothing to gain either... I am more than ever convinced that most of the time the voice of the man in the street is never heard, let alone considered for once.

George De Stefano, in this blog wrote, and I quote his words: "There is fascism, corruption and violence, superstition and ignorance. There also is incredible generosity of spirit, warmth, solidarity, vibrant culture, and a longing for change."

My dear friend George, this is where you Italians ALWAYS fail to understand the crux of the Sicilian problem - I assure you there is NO ignorance in this matter. I live just outside Catania and I have had the blessing of encountering a great number of very intelligent, objective, impartial and honest Sicilians, especially on the eastern part of the island which, let's face it, is far more developed socially and economically than the west and south, perhaps for the fact that it is far from Palermo, perhaps because it is a thriving community in spite of the many chains that have been encircling it by the carcasses of bureaucracy and the many failed governments, or perhaps for that very same intelligence that most people (George included) and a great many politicians want to ignore.

There is, yes, a longing for a change, but not just a political change!! Politics never resolved anything for Sicily, politics have only ruined this jewel of the Mediterranean. Sicilians are sick and tired of seeing almost all of their resources sucked by the Government in power, Leftist or Rightist. This is the same story over and over again, going back to the Unification of Italy. Italy might have been unified but Sicily was considered only as a food producing agricultural region to feed the rest of Italy and to promote its wonderful oranges and lemons.

You speak of the Mafia, and I agree that no one can breathe freely as long as there is a Mafia. Before you speak of Mafia, though, do not think that we live in a situation that is unbearably so - I assure you that the Mafia exists and many people in power do pretty much nothing about it. How ironic, isn't it, that everybody knows where the Mafia bosses and Dons are and yet they sit quietly in their abodes, sipping the nectars of their dark triumphs. I accuse (like Emile Zola did many years ago) any political entity that has been in power since 1946 that has never really put up a good fight and a strong front to SERIOUSLY fight the "malavita" and the many Mafias you have... you have the Mafia EVERYWHERE in Italy, not just Sicily!! Let's be REALISTIC about this! It is everywhere, in Sicily, in Calabria, in Puglia, in Campania, in Lazio, in Lombardia, in Piemote... it is everywhere... And you also know that the Mafioso is not the lacquey who does his boss's orders, the real Mafioso has changed the colour of his collar and he is there, working on how to make profit at the Stock Exchange, how to make dirty money fruit more interest, how to be able to hold any Italian government hostage...

Put your hands on your consciences and ask yourselves whether it is merely a question of Mafia... Why are all politicians so worried about Sicily? I can tell you why... because Sicily is a rich island full of potential which all governments want to hold back.

And therefore I ask Rita Borsellino what she is going to do if she were elected President of this region... why should we trust that she will bring any change? Why should Sicilians continue to be treated like second class or third class citizens by ANY government in power? I ask this great woman these questions and hope for a worthy answer...

(1) Why should Sicilians see their resources robbed from them, especially gas, oil, grain and fruit, and used as the central government deems right, making Sicilians suffer further and pay more for THEIR OWN resources?

(2) Who will guarantee that Sicilians will be able to find a steady employment close to their family with a decent salary and with all the benefits? Unemployment is rife in Sicily, and you still wonder why the Mafia has an upperhand?

(3) Why should Sicily remain a "forgotten" and undeveloped territory when no one can deny that it is, by far, one of Italy's most beautiful regions, if not the most beautiful? Who will see that this situation is reversed?

Ah! So many questions will never receive an answer because there is no one single person in power who is ready to take a courageous move and allow Sicily to develop!

I have a suggestion, a more solid, drastic and concrete suggestion than one would ever dare to make. I would vote for an independent autonomous regional government, one who is neither Leftist or Rightist, one who because of his political stand knows, precisely, what should be the route Sicily should take. Call it Lega Sud if you like, call me another "rebel" if you like, call me what you will... I know, however, that I am not speaking nonsense and I am not starking mad.

Sicily, I assure you, will gain nothing and ALWAYS lose something with whoever is in power. I am in favour of Sicilian autonomy in its broad sense. I would really like to see what the central government of Rome would do, probably cringe, at the idea that Sicily (the main producer of 43% of all the resources that pass to Italy) is going to kick the government and the rest of Italy in the ass!

Rita Borsellino, a person I admire but who, in my opinion, would have had more credibility with the persons who voted for Centre-Right group if she was really Autonomous, away from the Centre-Left "tag".

One more comment - let us be honest and face things as they really are - the Leftist governments did NOTHING for Sicily, and this is not a joke. This is the reality. Some changes have happened in the last five years and so, the intelligent Sicilian is bound to ask, "who gives me more brass in my pockets?"

Posted by: Joselle Camilleri | April 25, 2006 12:50 PM

Moreno, I really hope that democracy will never lose its meaning, the only way to prevert it, is fighting against its ennemies.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 25, 2006 11:25 AM

Whoops...Worser than better.

Posted by: blisco jaio | April 25, 2006 06:47 AM

So, maybe we can say that Italy is a concentration of what you can find better and worse in Europe.
Sicily is a concentration of italian's vices and vertues and Palermo is a concentration of what you can find in Sicily:-)
Or maybe is worser that better?

Posted by: blisco jaio | April 25, 2006 06:46 AM

Brava, Mariadele!
A very powerful and beautifully expressed statement. It is a very compelling call to action, a rallying cry for all those who cannot stand the status quo any longer.

As someone once wrote, Sicily contains all of Italy's vices and virtues in their most heightened form. There is fascism, corruption and violence, superstition and ignorance. There also is incredible generosity of spirit, warmth, solidarity, vibrant culture, and a longing for change. Let us hope that Rita and her supporters can appeal successfully to the best in Sicily and overcome the worst.

Posted by: George De Stefano | April 25, 2006 03:30 AM

OOPS!! correction of my previous post.
I meant "Raffaella" Biferale...sorry, my bad (no offence).

Posted by: moreno Visini | April 24, 2006 11:31 PM

@ Raffaele Biferale
Sorry but .... please don't mention the word "democracy"
because thanks to people like Bush, Berlusconi and the likes
"democracy" has lost all meanings and it's barely an excuse just to invade other countries..... say NO TO MAFIA....and that's enough ( at least to me! ).
ciao ,peace, shanti and salaam

Posted by: moreno Visini | April 24, 2006 11:27 PM

I'm sorry not to be sicilian, I would vote with great pleasure for Rita!
I hope the sicilian will say NO to mafia and yes to democracy!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | April 24, 2006 06:56 PM

Sicilian, wake up!!! It's your last chance to live in 'free' country... so, vote for Rita!

Posted by: Jola | April 24, 2006 06:01 PM

Pity that I have no right to vote anymore and I'm not a sicilian.It's a matter of fact: Italy will never change if Sicily stays like that.

Posted by: blisco jaio | April 24, 2006 03:15 PM


I wish with all my hearth that Rita will win the regional elections.

The change must start from the South of Italy!

On the other side the candidate of the center-right is Mr Cuffaro, who was involved over the last months in MAFIA trials.

In Puglia NIKI VENDOLA has won the elections because of the massive mobilitation and support of ordinary people.

So I encourage sicilians and more in general the italians all to talk about this important event: the regional election in Sicily..

Come on RITA!!

Posted by: Delfino * Dublino | April 24, 2006 09:22 AM

Wemen of Sicily united yourself. Start a pacific revolution. You have only one thing to loose. Your chains!

Posted by: Giacomo Ruffoni | April 24, 2006 08:39 AM

If you are writing from the US (or even if you only are English-speaking) you can join the support group at www.italianamericans4rita.org
There's more information and news on the campaign there.
Those of us working for Rita need all the help we can get, as Mariadele's letter so eloquently explains.

Posted by: Jesse Marsh | April 24, 2006 08:14 AM

I have been professor at the University of Catania for a short while, though long enough to feel the clima outside. I would vote for Rita Borsellino if I could. Best wishes Rita.
Francesco Pietra

Posted by: Francesco Pietra | April 24, 2006 07:42 AM

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