This Land is Our Land

How properties confiscated to the mafias come back to the civil society

“We run this place, work this land, but we do not own it. The civil society owns it”. Pietro Fragasso, president of the social cooperative Pietra di Scarto of Cerignola, in the Apulia region, is a kind, warm person. His glance becomes really serious when he talks about goods confiscated to the organised crime, anyway. His cooperative cultivates olives and tomatoes on a three acres land in a confiscated area, and manages Libera’s ranch. The staff also allocated a portion of the land they work to urban gardens, and schedules meetings in schools about legality: Pietra di Scarto is an active, positive part of its community. This is just one of the many similar activities in Italy, so confiscated goods could really have a huge political and social meaning in the whole country, but do they? According to the ANBSC (the Italian agency managing the goods confiscated to the organised crime) the goods permanently confiscated from 1996 are more than 20,000, but only half of them have been reassigned. The problem with the goods confiscated but not yet reassigned is they may take years to come to attention, as the bureaucracy tend to forget those goods are available and don’t activate the procedures to assign them. This way it takes ages to have the goods actually available to the communities. “If you want to find the mafia, follow the money”, used to say Giovanni Falcone, and that’s probably why Lombardy is one of the region with the highest number of confiscated goods (over 1,000): a clear sign of the widespread extension of organised crime in Italy. Confiscated goods must return to the communities, all the Italian administrators say: these places are our own, and we need to sensitise people and share these resources. It’s a way to face the organised crime, it’s a way to change the territory.

( 2016 )