AFP, published on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 04:30
Giuseppe Cimarosa knows the mafia and its methods of intimidation very closely. This 40-year-old Sicilian is the son of a repentant mafioso and his mother is a cousin of Matteo Messina Denaro, the most powerful sponsor of Cosa Nostra arrested on January 16 in Palermo after 30 years on the run.
For this convinced anti-mafia activist, who watched powerless a few years ago at the mysterious death of one of his horses, the fight against the Octopus today involves educating young people to change the “mentalities” that still govern a society living for decades under its yoke.
After the arrest of Matteo Messina Denaro, “the real battle is now cultural”, insists this bearded man in his forties in an interview with AFP at the equestrian center he manages in western Sicily in the countryside of Castelvetrano, the godfather’s stronghold under lock and key, whose hideout was only a few kilometers away.
“Now we have to change people’s mentality. The enemy is no longer the mafia, but the mafia mentality which unfortunately still conditions behavior or simply the way of thinking”, explains Mr. Cimarosa, who organized a demonstration on Thursday antimafia under the windows of the godfather’s family home in the historic center of the city.
“We must start with education in schools, and then the State must show solidarity with those who rebel like me,” says the man who convinced his own father to collaborate with the justice system to put several members of the Messina clan Denaro behind bars.
The weight of omerta, this law of silence imposed by the mafia, is still strongly felt in Sicilian society: the media landed in Castelvetrano to cover the end of the run of the most wanted criminal in Italy, including AFP , had to face the reluctance of the inhabitants to testify.
– Generational confrontation –
“The mafia bases all its strength on fear, and therefore people are afraid of exposing themselves, they prefer to look elsewhere, without realizing that it is everyone’s business”, laments this passionate activist, who recalls that the tomb of his repentant father was destroyed twice.
“My father broke a wall of omerta which at that time was very strong”, and his collaboration with justice “was born precisely from the conflict which opposed us”, he says.
He himself “never received any explicit threats (from the mafia, editor’s note), but things happened that could be interpreted as messages: I found one of my horses dead, and immediately after the death of my father, his grave was destroyed, twice,” he testifies.
He and his family have nevertheless chosen to give up the protection program offered by the justice and to remain living in Castelvetrano.
“I could not agree to give up my identity and who I am because of a criminal that I do not know,” he justifies. “I stayed here because it’s my mission, because I think it was too easy to say what I had to say from afar, it has more value if I say it to Castelvetrano”.
Today, he feels “a little more secure” and wants to be optimistic: “the mafia is no longer invincible as it thought it was, the state is stronger”.
He places all his hopes in “the clash between generations, a clash of mentalities that can occur within the same family”, as was the case between him and his father.