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Heart of Palermo

People who escaped Libya show their scars

Now they are on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa after a rescue at sea 30 miles off the coast.

 

 

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Defying the Cosa Nostra

From The Guardian:

The view from the terrace is breathtaking. On the left, the ancient Greek ruins of Solunto; on the right, the splendid Arab-Norman city of Cefalù. In the centre, a crystalline sea as blue as the sky.

For twenty years, Sicily's most powerful mafia bosses plotted the murders of countless policemen and politicians from this spot, part of a 400 sq metre villa in the coastal resort town of Casteldaccia, known as the Miami of Sicilian mobsters, a few kilometres from Palermo.

But the godfathers are now gone and in their place is Gianluca Calì, an anti-mafia businessman who is about to turn their former stronghold into a holiday house.

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13 caskets arrive at Empedocle port

When rescuers came to aid of an immigrant vessel, all the immigrants ran to one side of the boat. The vessel overturned. Thirteen women were drowned. Women, and their chilren, who have less money to pay human traffickers, are often locked into rooms below decks ,where they suffer from diesel fumes and go down with the ship, and their children. An unknown number of children are missing at sea and presumed dead after this accident.

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Funeral for 13 immigrant women at Lampedusa

From La Repubblica:

"Ogni volta che trasformiamo il mare in muro qualcuno muore. Siamo tutti responsabili", esclama don Carmelo La Magra, dando l'ultimo saluto alle 13 vittime del naufragio del 7 ottobre."

"Every time we turn the sea into a wall somebody dies. We are all responsible," exclaims Father Carmelo La Magra, giving the final goodbye to the 13 victims of the shipwreck of October 7.

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13 migrating women drown, 8 children missing during sea rescue operation

Lampedusa in the immigration news again now that ships are again allowed to land immigrants. This is from The Guardian:

At least 13 women have died and eight children are missing after a boat capsized in rough seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday night as a patrol vessel attempted to save it.

Italian authorities have rescued 22 survivors from the boat, which was carrying about 50 people. Only four of the 13 recovered bodies have been identified by surviving family members, including that of a 12-year-old girl.

According to an initial reconstruction of events, all the people onboard moved to one end of the vessel as the rescue boat arrived, causing it to overturn. The boat, carrying mostly people from sub-Saharan Africa, had initially left Libya before sailing along the coast to reach the city of Sfax, in Tunisia, where another 15 people boarded before they continued their journey to Sicily, according to survivors.

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Opera about immigrants debuts in Palermo

From infomigrants.net

 

By ANSA Published on : 2019/10/04
An opera titled "Winter Journey" tells the story of a migrant who leaves his family in Africa to board one of the many boats from Libya to follow his dream of working in Europe and sending money back home.

The new opera titled "Winter Journey" had its world premiere in Palermo on the island of Sicily. It recounts the story of a migrant who has to leave his family in a war-torn African country behind.


Commissioned by the Massimo Theatre in Palermo, the opera was written by Ludovico Einaudi and Colm Toibin and directed by Roberto Andò.


The production is loosely inspired by Franz Schubert's "Winterreise," which also served as the basis for the title.

 

A city of culture and of cultures


Italian theaters are gradually returning to the age-old practice of commissioning works directly from playwrights. For writers Ludovico Einaudi and Colm Toibin, it was a first to have a theater approach them directly.


Massimo Theatre superintendent Francesco Giambrone said the theater chose the topic of the opera to celebrate "Palermo as a city of welcoming and emphasize attention on the contemporary language of the stage."


Ludovico Einaudi meanwhile stressed that the music in the opera is a mix of different traditions, not focusing on any particular style or school. The singers are not classically trained tenors nor sopranos either, but rather African performes who speak and sing in their own national languages, while the rest of the show takes place in English. The main characters are played by Badara Seck from Senegal and Rokia Traoré from Mali.


The show will be performed through October 8. 

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Sicily's "King of Wind" guilty of bankrolling top mafioso on the lam

The Guardian has been keeping a close eye on Sicily these days. (Wind turbines now ruin the spectacular, cinematic views of mountain ridges all over the island.) Here is a story from Today, Tuesday.

A Sicilian windfarm businessman, known as the "king of wind", has been sentenced to nine years in prison for bankrolling the No 1 mafia fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro.

Vito Nicastri, a former electrician from Alcamo in the province of Trapani, was one of the key funders of Denaro's long spell on the run, a judge in Palermo ruled on Tuesday.


In Sicily, on the hunt for the last mafia fugitive
 
 
Read more
In 2013, Nicastri, who was under house arrest, lost his companies, property, cars and boats after anti-mafia investigators ordered the definitive confiscation of his assets worth €1.3bn (£1.1bn).

Among the assets were 43 companies, 98 properties, 66 bank accounts, credit cards, investment funds, cars and boats. Most were located in Sicily and Calabria.

Investigators said Nicastri, who made his name as an alternative energy entrepreneur, had invested money made from criminal activities and had "high-level" contacts in the mafia and "close ties to Matteo Messina Denaro".

 

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Palermo's "Kidnapped" Caravaggio

From The Guardian:

"..."The letter was accompanied by piece of the painting, a tiny piece of the canvas, which was intended to make clear to me that they really had the Caravaggio in their possession," Benedetto told his interviewer. "I went straight to the superintendent and informed him of what was happening. I left him the letter and the piece of canvas."

"The mafia was doing with the painting what they normally do with kidnapping victims", says D'Anolfi, who, at 45, is now an acclaimed director and will be screening the full interview next month in Palermo. "They had sent a piece of the painting just like they normally send a finger or an ear of a kidnapping victim."

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Mafia at its weakest now

From The Guardian...

by Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo
Sun 22 Sep 2019 09.36 BST
 
I remember the day as if it was yesterday – 23 May 1992, the day that changed Sicilians' lives for ever. I remember my mother's tears as she sat glued to the TV, watching what looked like an earthquake. Cars buried in rubble, streets ripped open, dozens of photographers and police officers on the scene of what in my mind could only have been a natural disaster.

I quickly realised that wasn't the case – that a terrible murder had been committed. The white Fiat Croma buried in the dirt was carrying Cosa Nostra's number one enemy, the anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone. Mafia bosses had placed 300kg of explosives under the motorway between the airport and Palermo. As the convoy of cars surrounding the Fiat got closer, the bomb was detonated, killing Falcone, his wife and three members of his police escort.



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Some good news

From The Guardian:

Eighty-two migrants have disembarked in Italy, marking a break from the era of hardline immigration measures pushed by the former interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

On Saturday night, the migrants were transferred from the Norwegian-flagged rescue boat Ocean Viking, operated by the French charities SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), to a coastguard vessel before being taken ashore on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

The decision follows an agreement with other EU member states, coordinated by the European commission, and most of those onboard will be relocated to other countries, including France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg.

It is the first time this year that Rome has allowed passengers to disembark from an NGO rescue vessel.

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