“Cosa Nostra” is a Mafia criminal organization present in Sicily and then spread to other parts of the world, such as the United States of America. It is a term used to refer exclusively to the Sicilian mafia to distinguish it from other powerful mafia associations such as the Neapolitan Camorra, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita.

The term “Cosa Nostra” was unknown until 1984: it was the collaborator of justice Tommaso Buscetta who revealed in an interrogation to judge Giovanni Falcone that in Sicily the mafia was an organization called “Cosa Nostra”.

The historical origins are linked to the latifundium, that is to the landed property that dominated the Sicilian production structure until the early 1900s. The first mafiosi acted as intermediaries between the feudal landed nobility and the peasants, becoming over time a class organized in brotherhoods that performed functions of control and repression. According to historians, the birth of the Sicilian mafia coincides with the birth of the Italian state in 1861. Over time, the Cosa Nostra has developed, has been able to adapt to any historical context, to the point of becoming a real criminal organization with intertwining and connections in the Italian economic and political sector.

Cosa Nostra is based on a system of relationships based on violence, intimidation and silence, known as the mafia method. It is a territorial-based organization in the sense that the basic organizational unit, the family, takes its name from the territory in which it operates and controls. The organization is pyramidal and constitutes the “mafia dome”: at the base of the pyramid there are the “picciotti” or “soldiers”, going up there is the “decina chief” who controls the work of ten men, higher up the “head of the district” (the district is the set of three families), at the top is the “boss” with his “adviser”. Then there are the affiliates who represent the most intimate nucleus, the external collaborators who have stable contacts with the organization helping it (politicians, entrepreneurs …) and finally the supporters who have occasional contacts (for example in the electoral period for the Mafia political exchange of the vote). You enter the criminal association through a formal affiliation rite which confers a permanent bond on the new affiliate. There is no right of withdrawal and in the event of treason or repentance, the affiliate is also punished with death.

The main illegal activities are: murders, attacks, money laundering, exploitation of prostitution, illicit arms trade, organ trafficking, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, gambling, illicit waste trafficking, usury, extortion. management of illegal immigration.

Main Mafia bosses are: MATTEO MESSINA DENARO still a fugitive since 1993, known as the head of the Dome, is one of the most dangerous bosses in the world. SALVATORE RIINA, known as TOTO ‘, an Italian mafia and terrorist, head of the Cosa Nostra until his arrest in 1993 having been held to be the main responsible for the death of Judge Falcone. He died in prison in 2017. TOMMASO BUSCETTA, a mafioso who after his arrest began to collaborate with the Italian justice system and in particular with Judge Falcone, providing valuable revelations on the Cosa Nostra. He died in 2000 in the United States where he lived protected under a false name.

Victims of the mafia were: the journalist and radio host PEPPINO IMPASTATO killed by the mafia in 1978, was known for his public complaints against the illicit activities of the Cosa Nostra. The President of the Sicily Region PIERSANTI MATTARELLA killed by the mafia in 1980 because he had tried to fight the mafia infiltration into politics. The judges GIOVANNI FALCONE and PAOLO BORSELLINO killed by the mafia in 1992, were the architects of the first major trial at the Cosa Nostra in 1986 which allowed the arrest of hundreds of Mafia bosses sentenced to life imprisonment and extremely severe penalties. The boy judge ROSARIO LIVATINO killed by the mafia in 1990 at the age of 42, was a magistrate with a strong moral, apolitical, far from conditioning, who had waged judicial struggles against the Cosa Nostra and lived protected under a false name.

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Elena Attennante


II B – Furci Siculo


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