Sicilian Center of Documentation
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Umberto Santino and Anna Puglisi founded the Sicilian Center of (Centro di Documentazione) in 1977. The Sicilian Center of Documentation (Centro Siciliano di Documentazione) was the first study center on the Mafia in Italy, specifically Sicily. Four main points define the Center’s purpose:
- Develop awareness of the Mafia and similar organizations
- Develop projects aimed at fighting Mafia organizations
- Encourage the promotion of cultural legality
- Develop and promote democratic participation in society and government
Center's History and Purpose
This self-financed center carries out activities that include the research of political, sociological, economic and historical data, as well as hosting conferences, exhibitions, and seminars. The center also assists with the publication of informational pamphlets and books.
Since 1977, the Center has developed an archive dedicated to the research of the Mafia. As a result, the center has made research available to the public in forms of informational packets. The center continues to have an active participation in the education of Mafia and other criminal organizations by visiting schools and universities throughout Italy and the world. The Center also organizes and initiates public demonstrations, and has played a key role in the murder investigation of Giuseppe Impastato, murdered by the mafia in May 1979. In Impastato’s honor, the Center was renamed “The Center of Giuseppe Impastato” in 1980. In 1998, the Center was renamed again to “The Center of Giuseppe Impastato – Non-profit Organization for Social Venues”.
In 1979, one year after the murder of Giuseppe Impastato the Center organized the first anti-Mafia demonstration of Italian history. Over 2,000 demonstrators participated in this historic event. Since then, the Center has also organized other demonstrations, which include peace movements, the protection of democratic participation and human rights.
Giuseppe "Peppino" Impastato
Giuseppe Impastato, born on January 5, 1948 in Cinisi, Italy was a young political activist, murdered by the Mafia in 1978. Impastato’s family was part of the Mafia, causing a strained relationship with his Mafioso father. As a teenager, Impastato formally broke off relations with his father, who kicked him out of their home. After moving out, Impastato began campaigning aggressively against the Mafia by founding a journal titled “The Socialist Idea” and a self-financed radio show, Radio Aut. Impastato publicly defied the Mafia by using humor, his voice, and influence over his listeners. Impastato targeted numerous Mafia leaders and politicians whom he believed had developed ties to the Mafia. Impastato’s primary target was Gaetano Badalamenti, who lived 100 steps away from his family’s home. On May 8–9, 1978, Impastato was murdered. His body was discovered with a charge of TNT tied to a local railway line. Around the time of his death, Impastato was running for local elections under the Proleterian Democratic party. Despite his death during elections, Impastato was elected.
Impastato and the Center
When Impastato’s body was discovered, police officials initially thought that he was a left-wing terrorist whose plans of blowing up a railway line with TNT had gone wrong. Moreover, officials also considered that Impastato might have just committed suicide. However, his family and friends did not believe these accounts of events. They deduced that the Mafia had killed Impastato for his public defiance and hostility against the Mafia. Eventually, Impastato's movements and outspoken attitude posed a threat for Gaetano Badalamenti and the Mafia.
As a result, the Impastato family, the Center for Sicilian Documentation, and his followers fought for years to produce evidence against Impastato’s murderers – the Mafia, led by Gaetano Badalamenti. Thanks to the Center’s involvement, demonstrations and research, Gaetano Badalamenti was convicted of Impastato’s murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2002.
A film about the life and death of Impastato was released in 2000 titled i cento passi, starring Italian actor Luigi Lo Cascio as Impastato.
Albanese, J.A., D.K. Das and A. Verma (eds.) Mafia and Mafia-type Organizations in Italy. Organized Crime. World Perspectives, Prentice-Hall, 2003.
Gambetta, Diego. The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Vitale, Salvo. Nel Cuore Dei Coralli: Peppino Impastato, Una Vita Contro La Mafia. Italy: Rubbetino, 1995.