The project, called ”Hand in Hand against Mafia”, was organized by the anti-Mafia organization Libera Palermo, and gathered youths from 7 EU countries to discuss the issue of organized crime.
The following article was written by 3 of the participants, who shared their experience in Palermo.
EUROPEAN YOUTH CHALLENGING THE ROOTS OF THE MAFIA
Sicilian life is widely affected by the Mafia, but its presence remains a taboo topic among the island’s population. Thanks to the Erasmus+ project Hand in Hand Against Mafia, youths from seven European countries gathered in the capital city of Sicily through an initiative taken by the anti-mafia organization Libera Palermo.
Since the two magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were murdered in 1992, civic anti-mafia engagement among Sicilians has increased considerably. The movement to free Sicily from the tentacles of the Mafia has seen the emergence of prominent organizations such as Libera, Agende Rosse and Addio Pizzo. Libera – Associations, Names and Numbers Against Mafias – is presently a network of more than 1,200 associations, groups and schools, committed to build organizational synergies between the political and cultural local realities to promote a culture of lawfulness. The mission of Agende Rosse is to search for the truth about the murders of Falcone and Borsellino, and to protect those threatened by Mafia. Addio Pizzo attempts to combat the crippling effects which the Pizzo – a form of protection racketeering – has on the lives of Sicilian business owners.
Through gaining firsthand experience from a city known for its gastronomy, rich cultural heritage and the Mafia, the participating youth will return home with an increased understanding of the complex topic of organised crime. During the project, participants have interacted with members of the anti-Mafia movement, as well as with locals and Mafia victims, mainly through the use of interviews and observational methods. The project also allowed them to give something back to the local community, through raising awareness about the Mafia and how it can be challenged. To this end, the interviews were used to create a radio programme on the topic. The project ended with a flash mob, which brought a message of change to the heart of Palermo.
Hand in Hand Against Mafia is a good example of young people coming together, challenging structural oppression by sharing experiences and exchanging strategies on how to act within the civic society in order to counteract organized crime.
The understanding gained will surely guide the participants in their further efforts, as they return home with a readiness to disseminate their knowledge and put it into practice.
Alf Sjösvärd, Catalin Moraru and Carl Bradshaw
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.