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Those thirty boys, sons of the ’Ndrangheta, are free to choose

· Women’s voices ·

Thirty boys of the ’Ndrangheta have been taken from their families and inserted into a new environment, often at the explicit request of their parents. They are all monitored by Enza Rando, a lawyer and Vice President of the Libera Association, who inspired the first law on the Mafia’s infiltration into the economy and who is now involved in the Aemilia trial where the Don Ciotti Association has brought a civil action.

“The women of the ’Ndrangheta become widows, they lose a father or a brother and begin to fear that their male children will have the same end. And they then turn to the Court for Minors, asking that their child be given to a foster family”, recounts Rando, explaining the protocol “Free to Choose”. Parents imprisoned under the article 41 bis [of the Penal Code] do not at first want their children to be distanced from the Mafioso tradition and yet after some years Rando is beginning to receive letters from prison in which these members of the ’Ndrangheta thank her for having saved them: “They are men who are beginning to reflect on their own lives. At the outset they bombarded their wives with threats because they were daring to remove themselves from the Mafioso logic, now they are even sending messages of gratitude to them”.

The mission of this Sicilian woman lawyer, today transplanted to Modena, is entirely addressed to cultural prevention for the young. “Together with Libera I took 3,000 students to hearings of “show trials” of members of the Mafia so that they could hear at first-hand how much evil a Mafioso can cause, not only to an individual businessman but to an entire territory and ultimately to us all”. She trusts in time, in perseverance and in teaching children to discern the right conduct: “The goal is to make them consciously become decent adults, people who act with prudence as opposed to the Mafiosi who prefer to reassert their power, albeit doing so brings them life imprisonment, an absurd conviction which should be invalidated”.

It thus happens that in the courtrooms school students sit next to the children of ’Ndranghetisti, a closeness which gives rise to amazement. “The students ask me whether the parents of these peers of theirs do not realize the burden of suffering that they are inflicting on their children. They want to know if a collaborator has truly repented and even why an engineer should decide to sell his skills to the Mafia. And above all they are curious to know how it will end: whether the Mafioso will go to jail, whether justice will be done. Theirs is a very strong ethical questioning”, continues Rando who, in spite of her transferral from Sicily continues to receive threats and intimidations to which she pays scant attention Indeed, her thoughts are imbued with the happiness of seeing young university students who come to Mafia trials and begin to study the documents: “It is so wonderful to see them involved”.

She still remembers clearly when the informer Giovanni Brusca told the judges that his father had given him a pistol when he was four years old. “Some destinies can change and it is the women who must make a revolution within the Mafia”, she remarks, recalling Lea Garofalo, the woman killed by her ’Ndranghetista husband because she dared to rebel against the Mafia’s male code. Rando knew Garofalo and in her place she now observes dozens of women who, following her example, are rediscovering a different life far from Calabria together with their sons, wrenched from the Mafia. “At the beginning they feel bewildered, they show the reserve that they know so well because it is the manner of ’Ndrangheta families. They gradually open up, they start working and in the end also assume a dignified role before their own sons who begin to respect them. One such child who is now an adult, told me that when he was very young in Calabria he felt that he instilled fear in the village simply by being the son of a Mafioso. Today he has lost that social recognition but has acquired power and trust. I can say: ‘goal achieved’”.

Laura Eduati




St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 22, 2019