[Story by Dany Mitzman, Calabria, Italy, 12 July 2013 Continue reading the main story In today’s Magazine]
Mayoress Maria Lanzetta has paid a high price for her ethics and integrity during an era of bribery and corruption.
The Calabrian mafia, suspected of running Europe’s biggest cocaine smuggling operation, controls its area of southern Italy with a mixture of bribery and corruption. But when Maria Carmela Lanzetta, the mayoress of one small town was attacked a year ago, she and the country said “enough”.
There is something uncomfortable about Calabria. It is like the embarrassing distant relative nobody likes to mention.
Being down in the toes of Italy’s boot I am struck by a gruesome metaphor. Calabria’s woes are the country’s neglected gangrene – so far away in the extremities that few further up the limb seem to care.
But in April 2012 the nation woke up to a burning sensation in its diseased foot.
Perhaps from the fire in Maria Carmela Lanzetta’s chemist shop, underneath her family’s apartment? Or maybe it was the sting of the bullets shot at her car soon afterwards?
Whatever the case, the mayoress of the tiny coastal town of Monasterace cried out in pain. And she was heard.
After months of intimidation, most likely by the ‘Ndrangheta – the Calabrian mafia – Maria Carmela Lanzetta’s cry of “basta” (“enough”) echoed nationwide.
Her resignation became front-page news, prompting the national leader of her Democratic Party to travel down to Monasterace to beg her to reconsider.
[Read on for more]