Monday, November 12, 2012

Listened: "Gamorrah" by Roberto Saviano

Listened: Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System by Roberto Saviano, 2008 (English audio), Overdrive download.

Hear is the short version: Saviano grows up in Southern Italy. Southern Italy controlled by crime rings.  Saviano grows up to be reporter.  Saviano writes book about the crime rings and names names.  Saviano lives in hiding under 24 hour police protection.

A expose and history of the crime rings, the camorah, that control Naples and the rest of Southern Italy. A very personal expose because Saviano grew up and witnessed many the wars and crimes he writes about.  He went undercover as a worker in various mob-controlled industries.  He visited dozens of murder sites - often scootering his Vespa to the bleeding bodies before the police or ambulances arrived.

Original publication date of 2006 and a bestseller in Italy and other European countries.  Translated into 30 languages.   Recently won the Swede's Olof Palme Prize in January, 2012 and the 2011 PEN/Pinter Prize for free speech. The awards were for exposing the clans.  He exposed very little.  As he writes in the book very little he tells is secret.  Most things are public knowledge, in Naples, and available from court documents.  His "crime" is in wide publication, heck in publishing.  Reporters are not authorized by the clans to tell the truth about the clans.

From the 4 April 2009 edition of The Australian: "Saviano's life, all the same, has been effectively shut down. He is isolated and constantly moved in bulletproof cars, never able to return home, or have a girlfriend, or meet friends for a coffee in the open; he'll never, ever be free again. Even arranging interviews is a long, drawn-out process; only after five months of negotiations do I finally speak to him by phone."

I will not try to write a review or summary.  The tales of crime and clan control could go on for hundreds of pages.  Here are the notes I took as I listened:

Gamorrah is the public name. Kind of like "Mafia". Crooks call themselves differently.  They  are the epitome of law-free entrepreneurial spirit. Everything is for sale. Cut prices to the bone - workers are plentiful and paid cheaply. The bosses get the money. Power is everything.

There is a MASSIVE market in fake designer goods.  The operation runs from Italian sweatshop through Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. 300 million euros a year of goods made in Italian sweatshops at the same quality as the real stuff.  The Italian shops bid for work from real the designer houses.  Designers contract with shops and overflow of goods not purchased by the design houses get a fake label and go as the real thing.  The fakes are as good as real but get a huge discount and are sold through mob owned retail shops.

The ultimate criminal goal is power. Command. Domination. Complete economic control is the focus.

The gang war (ending in 2005) was all encompassing. Anyone could be a target. Relatives. Neighbors. Friends. Former lovers. Classmates. Coworkers. Lookalikes. Someone with a frown. The war brought lots of international reporting. The new reporting was poorly done with cub reporters chasing drama and video of guns and handcuffs.  Reporters were often duped by neighborhood teens eager to be on television.  The war's final truce was negotiated by a third clan and the agreement published in a local newspaper.  Publicly published.

The all encompassing crime reminds me of current Mexico.  The police and politicians are suspect and often work for the clans.

Mob killers have a fondness for hand grenades.

The top mob bosses go so deep into hiding they have not seen their families for years. One boss was caught and his neighbors rioted. They did not riot to protest the arrest of their mob neighbor because he was a local hero or benefactor. They rioted to show "Hey! We did not turn you in. Don't kill us."

Corruption so endemic that whole municipalities have been dissolved by the national government. All public contracts go to the clans at big prices.

Odd detour by Saviano into his father. Divorced when Saviano was a kid. Lousy dad always showing disappointmen with Saviano's actions. Dad taught him to shoot and lectured that a gun was needed to be strong.

Beretta 92FS owned by father.  An older, scratched up 92FS and the 92FS referred to by Italians as an M9, "I am going to M9 you between the eyes."  Author does not know how the M9 designation came about (U.S. Army designation).  That seems surprising but the author is not into guns and bombs.

Weird detour into Mikhail Kalashnikov and AK47 history.  Kalashnikov equated to camorah in that Kalishnikov created what he waned and everything that happens after is not his fault or concern

Arms trade. Wherever there is money the camorah are there. Deals with ETA in Spain where ETA smuggled in cocaine from South American revolutionaries to pay for the guns. he camorah clans dealt with South American drug runners and across Africa. Deals with Poland, Romania, the scumbag Arkan in Serbia. Deals with Albanians to keep them out of Serbian deals.  Dealt with Argentina during Falklands War when the Argentine military needed cash and shipped their arms to Italy.

Camorah undercut prices in legitimate business through hiring illegal aliens, graft and kickbacks, ignoring safety rules and laws to speed production schedules.

Even the milk market is infiltrated. Camorah clan created a monopoly through buying dairy companies and using violence against competitors and retail shops not buying camorah product.

Religion and Father Peppino Diana  Father Diana was one of the very very few to speak out against the camorah.  He was murdered in his own church right before saying Mass.  Religion itself is incorporated into the clan. Camoristas think of the good of the group as Christian chairty.  Murder is okay when done for the higher cause of clan's business.

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