THE BLOG
11/24/2014 12:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mafia - State Negotiation: Italy's Original Sin

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"I have to remember to get it fixed!," says Piero as he struggles with the broken door. I can't help but smile. Piero has been meaning to fix it for the past 11 years. "The usual, right Christina?," my friend asks.

"Piero, you know I have to say the words myself. It's not the same if I don't!," I reply kiddingly. "Ok, ok, go ahead, say it!" He drags a stool up to the counter: "Cappuccino e bombolone perfavore!" (Cappuccino and bombolone, please!) It's become a ritual. Nothing can lift a demoralized spirit like a cappuccino with a luscious cream-filled, deep-fried pastry covered with icing sugar on the side... followed by a fast-paced, hour-long walk to burn off the calories! Piero whistles a tune and breakfast is ready!

The scent of fresh ground coffee beans fills the small bar. I scroll down my cell phone. The morning news keeps me company while every morsel of sweetness regenerates my soul.

A headline catches my attention: Mafia, source reveals: 'Explosive for Di Matteo is in Palermo.' High state of alert around courthouse.

Every time I read about Magistrates whose lives are being threatened by the mafia I ask myself the same rhetorical question: what kind of a country is this? Twenty-two years have passed since Judge Paolo Borsellino was blown to pieces in front of his mother's home in Palermo. Countless others preceded him. Twenty-two years without justice, without truth, and what's worse? Nothing has changed.

Judge Nino Di Matteo is head prosecutor of the State-mafia negotiation trial taking place in Palermo. Like most of us, every morning he leaves his wife and children to go to work. Unlike most of us, for the Di Matteo family it's like saying goodbye to one another forever. Will their father, will her husband still be alive at the end of the day?

It's the end of October, beginning of November. A mafia boss sentenced to a Prison Administration Act that in Italy is known as Article 41- bis (also called hard prison regime) asks to speak to Judge Di Matteo. The bosses' name is Vito Galatolo, 41 years old, son of don Vincenzo of the Acquasanta mafia family, loyal to Toto Riina who is serving a life sentence for numerous homicides and massacres. Galatolo needs to "take a burden off his conscience." Di Matteo listens as the man explains how the explosive intended to assassinate him is scattered all over Palermo, held in trust by Cosa nostra. The boss reveals that forces outside the mafia are apparently involved in the plan to eliminate the Judge. Galatolo has only recently become a turncoat. Anti - mafia intelligence has always considered him a 'diehard' man of organized crime. His decision to collaborate leaves them wondering. Is there someone behind Galatolo or does he truly need to relieve his conscience? The interview between Judge Di Matteo and the boss continues. Other important details are revealed.

Investigators try to keep Galatolo's name secret. The man has a family, and the mafia doesn't forgive. A leak ruins the plan. Police search all over Palermo for the explosive. Nothing is found. Perhaps, the material has been hidden or moved to a different location following Galatolo's statements.

Last year, in a prison recording, while speaking to another inmate, mafia boss Toto Riina said "I'm going to make sure that Di Matteo ends up worse than Falcone ." Following a series of threats made by the old but still powerful mafia boss, a formal request was forwarded to the government asking that vehicles used by Di Matteo and his body guards be equipped with a device known as a "bomb jammer." Despite promises made by Minister Angelino Alfano, the bomb jammer was never assigned. The device is important because it detects and neutralizes explosive equipment. It could literally save Judge Di Matteo's life.

Meanwhile last Saturday, all over Italy, citizens gathered and organized sit-ins to express solidarity to Judge Di Matteo, and to all Magistrates who risk their lives in the name of freedom and equality.

Judge Paolo Borsellino once said that mafia was the first problem Italy needed to resolve in order to become a truly democratic and civil country. If we take into consideration the economic, political, social and moral downfall the country faces today, it is hard to disagree. We live the consequences of mafia culture. Whether it be unemployment, inadequate health care, the degeneration of the school system or environmental catastrophes, the common denominator is one, Italy's "original sin": mafia.