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Sicily's business chiefs stand up to the Mafia

Sicily's business chiefs stand up to the Mafia
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Faced with the growing scourge of protection rackets, Sicily’s business leaders have decided enough is enough. They have voted to expel from the employers’ federation Confindustria any member who co-operates with the mobsters by paying them cash. In a part of Italy where racketeering is rife, this is a major revolt.

The federation’s president in Sicily, Ivan Lo Bello, said: “It will be impossible to be in Confindustria and to have relationships with the criminals.”

A letter written to Italy’s president by a Sicilian construction industry boss triggered the move. “We can’t carry on living like this,” wrote Andrea Vecchio.

His business has been attacked and he has received death threats after refusing to pay the mafia tax. A fellow victim is the local chamber of commerce boss. Marco Venturi explained his ongoing fear after his house was shot at. The employers’ federation initiative has been hailed as a “good example” by Italy’s Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

And, while he has rejected calls to deploy the army in Sicily, the new resolve to combat the Mafia can be seen on stickers appearing on the island. They say that a population paying the mob tax is a population that has lost its dignity.