Photographer, Journalist, Videomaker

reportage

NEXTONOTHING

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1 – Aspettare è irritante. Ma le aree di transito degli aeroporti hanno un non so che di rassicurante: la gente che le popola si muove annoiata, si cerca di far passare il tempo in un tutto che si sposta lentamente. In questo purgatorio la mia tazza di caffè americano e il mio sandwich imbottito sembrano interminabili. L’ambiente che mi circonda è piacevole. È terribilmente familiare nel suo essere un non-luogo. La quiete interiore del sentirmi in transito è scossa dalla musica della radio del bar – finora inosservata – sintonizzata su una stazione locale. La musica country è così fuori luogo, qui. Suona la stessa canzone che suonava quella notte a casa dei genitori di Kim.

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Sono passati mesi da quella notte, nascosta nella memoria. Ancora una volta ubriachi marci, danzavano sulle note di quella musica di benjos e chitarre, dopo anni di indifferenza, violenza, miseria: il ritorno di Kimberly a casa, i suoi occhi lucidi e i nostri baci, la gioia di suo padre che la assicurava a me, Kimberly, per strapparla da quei luoghi lontani e dall’uomo che la picchiava. Piangevamo tutti in quella cucina, a lavar via gli anni di dolore e gli errori passati.

Fuori intanto è l’ora dell’alba, il vento spazza la strada di sabbia. La musica della vecchia radio accompagna il rumore della terra che cammina, il mare che naviga, il cielo che vola.

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Quella notte Kimberly sembrava aver accarezzato una gioia vera, ubriaca e dolorosa come un nervo scoperto. La follia del sogno, del matrimonio, della felicità non poteva sopravvivere all’intimità della notte: il giorno portò via tutto tra gli insulti; portò via per sempre lei e me dal mondo. Quella canzone ora suonava per altri ubriachi e per altri distratti.

2 – Un piccolo bimotore della Calm Air porta da Winnipeg a Churchill. Appena una trentina di posti mezzi pieni. Il volo CP2597 dura tre ore. Era agosto e le avevo promesso che sarei tornato presto: sono passati 7 anni.
Nella banalità vuota delle sue giornate il volo delle 18 porta me.
Ero stato un tempo molto atteso. Oggi sono forse dimenticato, comunque di troppo. Dovevo arrivare, pur aspettandomi una delusione. “Devo aver sbagliato volo” – penso – “non c’è neppure un eschimese”.

3 – La pianura raggiunge l’orizzonte freddo e secco sul cielo. Il vento gelido accarezza la terra, gonfia i cappucci e le giacche di chi è in attesa all’arrivo sulla pista, auto accese e il riscaldamento al massimo. Nessuno mi aspetta, nessuno sa che sono sul volo delle 18. Recupero il bagaglio e mi fermo nel piazzale dell’aeroporto. Ora è vuoto. Voglio restare qui – appoggiato alle enormi gabbie che servono per gli orsi polari – a guardare il vento, a sentire la luce lunare che invade gli occhi e riporta in superficie gioie e timori sepolti chissà dove. Deve essere passato molto tempo prima che io abbia chiamato l’albergo del paese per comunicargli che un ospite inaspettato era all’aeroporto.

4 – Questi posti sono fatti di luce e di nulla. Per questo somigliano al paradiso.

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5 – Kimberly fa l’infermiera, adesso. Ho provato a entrare dalla porta che mette in comunicazione il City Centre con l’ospedale. È chiusa. Ho girato a lungo, in tondo, per tornare alla panchina dove 7 anni fa l’avevo incontrata per la prima volta. Un mare vischioso di emozioni miste a un’irrefrenabile gioia curiosa. La potenza del vuoto intorno a me, miglia e miglia di semplice e insostituibile nulla mi fanno girare la testa. Sono in preda all’euforia. Ho camminato rapidamente intorno al centro fino all’ingresso esterno dell’ospedale. Sono quattro o cinque, col loro camice bordeaux a maniche corte, fumano e chiacchierano mentre mi avvicino alle loro spalle. Come un pendolo in stallo, riconosco gli occhiali tondi, i capelli mossi, il fisico esile della Kimberly che avevo lasciato tanti anni fa. Si volta – come chiamata dal grido di una farfalla – “Eccomi”. Mi sento annegare in un fiume di ricordi, emozioni, sentimenti, imbarazzi: la lingua è paralizzata. Mi chiede cosa diavolo ci faccia qui. Spegne la sua sigaretta, con naturalezza; io ne accendo un’altra.

6 – I fotografi sono samurai che inseguono la luce. La luce ieri portava in cielo. Verde, un po’ acida, come un tornado, alta attraversava il cielo – mai troppo nero. Il rumore di un clacson richiama la mia attenzione: Kim guida un pick-up con Scott accanto, il suo uomo. Si fermano, sono già ubriachi e mi invitano per la mia prima birra. Vado via con loro: comprano del fumo e andiamo a casa.
La casa dell’autista del tundra-buggy – chissà mai che fine ha fatto – ha lo stesso odore di sette anni fa, quando mi avevano ospitato qui. Ora tocca al vino – tanto vino – fino alla mattina dopo. Schott è uscito da poco di galera, ha già una famiglia a Winnipeg e tratta Kimberly con disprezzo. Come può Kim vivere con quell’uomo che incarna tutto quello che ha sempre disprezzato? Come può ridere di Fred Flintstone e Burney Rubble in questo orribile fumetto porno? Maschera malamente l’ imbarazzo di mostrarmi la sua vita senza più alcuna dignità; le menzogne raccontate a se stessi e agli altri traspaiono nella violenza dei gesti.

7 – Mangio due uova al giorno e bevo una decina di birre. Kim dice che tolgono la fame e aiutano a dimenticare.

8 – “Non ti ho mai dimenticato. Non ho mai passato un solo giorno di questi anni senza amarti. Ogni giorno che passava mi ripetevo che non saresti più tornato”.

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9 – Sento gli occhi bruciare e gli zigomi che si allontanano. Non posso dimenticare le ventiquattro ore trascorse: l’inutile appuntamento per la pesca, le parole scambiate a piccoli passi, la spasmodica ricerca di Kim, la mattina alla marina, il tuffo nelle acque gelate e nere come la pece della Baia, il freddo e il calore nel cuore, l’hotel Seaport, la birra a fiumi tra pool e slot-machine fino all’ultimo giro prima della chiusura. Confessioni e lacrime delle violenze subite dal suo uomo, consegnate all’eternità di quella gelida notte boreale.
Freddo: lei nel mio letto, noi due ubriachi in un abbraccio senza tempo. E poi l’incontro di Jennifer e Vincent, il giovane spagnolo, gli amanti della stessa notte deserta. Di nuovo in hotel, a far l’amore fino alla mattina con la tv accesa sul canale delle previsioni del tempo locale, per suo vezzo — fuori il vento a 167 km/h.

Sono le 5: dopo una notte di gesti e di carezze irrompono le parole. “Torno a casa”. Sono le 5. Ventiquattro ore prima mi hanno svegliato per andare a pesca con George, lui non è mai passato a prendermi. Io ho sempre odiato la pesca. C’è un baratro tra la notte e il giorno. È iniziato un giorno che non è mai esistito. Rimangono una macchina fotografica bagnata e i miei occhi umidi.

10 – Grondante sangue, spugna di rancori e odori ammuffiti dal tempo. Le notti del nord continuano a girare alte nel cielo, verdi tra le stelle.

11 – Scott l’ha picchiata di nuovo. I lividi sul suo corpo, la fuga e l’assordante silenzio che avvolge questo posto mi fanno girare la testa. Il vuoto deforma la percezione della realtà, delle distanze, delle dimensioni, delle azioni. Il comportamento insicuro di Kim mi confonde. Trovo mille scuse che la giustifichino, ma non ha più alcun senso che io resti qui. Tra due mesi avrà il suo passaporto. Ci rincontreremo lontano da questo inferno. Davvero.

12 – Passando sopra Toronto vedi solo l’ordine rasato della maglia urbana. Con le luci giallo-arancio disposte in linee rette che si intersecano a formare una graticola rovente. L’ordine ritrova il caos all’improvviso. La città sembra aver subito un incidente proprio nel suo centro, le lamiere si sono contorte sputando fuori il cuore. La quiete di Montreal: nei suoi cieli mi accoglie la luna che mi corre affianco riflessa sul fiume, come una magica beluga che emerge e si rituffa nelle acque nere della notte; apre la strada, poi scompare per riemergere a poppa, come un cargo in un oceano in tempesta.

13 – “Il sogno è quel pensiero che non si è avuto nel momento in cui era necessario”

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14 – Kim ha deciso che la sua fuga sarebbe stata lì dove vola l’oceano fatto vapore dalle mille rocce tonde che tutte insieme gridano e ridono trasportate dalla risacca delle onde cavalcanti il mare.
Vuelo 1641 con destino Ushuaia, por favor presentarse a la puerta de embarque numero 4.

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#7 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

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#5 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

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#4 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

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The Godfather of Bogotá

“If you want me out of here, you’ll have to kill me. But before I die, I’ll shoot first.” Salvatore grips his gun and stares right into the eyes of three FARC guerilleros (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), who stand before him, their hands shaking. The year is 1992 and Salvatore has just made a momentous discovery: the enemy is also afraid. Salvatore Mancuso Gomez is the founder of the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia), an army of eighteen thousand far-right paramilitaries, formed in the mid-1990s in response to the burgeoning violence of the FARC. Salvatore Mancuso’s father hailed from Sapri in the Italian province of Salerno. In September 1956, he relocated to Colombia, settling in Montería in the northern province of Cordoba, where he would try his luck. Born in 1964, Salvatore was the second of his six sons. On completing his studies in farming administration, Salvatore went on to gain a Master’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, USA and – in 1982 already – became a national motocross champion. He also started a family and worked as a cattle-breeder in Montería. Until he decided to take up arms in order to protect himself from the FARC. An escalation from nought to a hundred: in 1995, he writes to defence minister Fernando Botero, demanding greater security for the Montería region, completely controlled by the guerilleros as they plunder, murder and extort protection money. This is his last act as a regular citizen before creating the ACCU (Autodefensas Campesinas de Córdoba y Urabá (Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá) soon after – and the notorious AUC in 1997, made up largely of rich, well-educated sons of Colombian upper middle-class families, who have channelled their rage into an ideology. The first warrant for the arrest of Mancuso, one of 23 served on him to date, was issued in the year 1996. Both Italy and the USA have requested his extradition. Over a period of ten years, Mancuso is thought to have shifted some thirty thousand tons of cocaine and may have in excess of ten thousand deaths on his conscience. His annual turnover is approximately seven billion dollars, as he admitted himself in a hearing.

After the demise of Escobar’s Medellín Cartel and the end of the Cali Cartel thereafter, the cocaine business fell into the hands of those actually running the territory, i.e. the FARC and the AUC. Income from the drug trade was initially invested in weapons and financing armies, but in time the two fanatical groups put ideology on the back burner and focussed on cocaine as their core business. The most reliable customer of choice is the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta: “There has been a relationship of trust between the cocaine producers and the ‘Ndrangheta for many years. It enables the Calabrians to negotiate favourable prices and delivery dates. The organizations have grown so close that the “Narcos” now just have to give their word to the Calabrians when it comes to deliveries”, says prosecutor Mario Spagnuolo, who has worked for the Catanzaro Anti-Mafia Bureau for many years.

But how did Salvatore Mancuso come by his ‘Ndrangheta connections?

Close to home. Montería is a small town in northern Colombia, situated on the banks of the River Sinú. It has a population of a mere three hundred and fifty thousand, albeit with a murder count of seventy per month. In this small, poor town, five out of ten restaurants are Italian. The Italian community lives (unobtrusively) in the wealthiest districts, mindful of tradition and staying in touch with Italy. Mancuso is a legend in Montería. Everyone on the street has a Mancuso story to tell. Like the one about tons of dollars sealed up and buried in the middle of a wood with the aid of a GPS navigation system. Or during the 2006 World Cup Finals, when Mancuso made an appearance at the Piccola Italia restaurant to support the Italian team, where the chef was the very same man who had cooked for him and his military staff during the years he spent in hiding.

Mancuso and the Montería police have a special relationship. Indeed, they are so close, that the narco-paramilitary paid for the law enforcement forces’ helicopters, which he, in turn, was able to borrow, sprayed with different paint. Although this may be an apocryphal story, drummed up to feed the myth of the “godfather”.

Mancuso gave himself up to the police in 2007 and was detained in a kind of prison hotel, built especially for him. He did so on the basis of the so-called “Justice and Peace Law”, promoted by President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, in which the AUC would be afforded remission if they turned in their weapons voluntarily. Hoping to preclude his extradition, Mancuso exerted his influence on one third of Congress, all people who were in some way connected to him, whose position he could effectively compromise. It was Mancuso’s dream to live in Italy (using his official Italian passport) and manage the fortune he had amassed in the previous decade. He hoped for freedom, but his plans were hindered by pressure from Bogotá’s greatest sponsor, the only one Uribe could not say “no” to without recourse to a mountain of dollar bills. The financier of the Colombian government is the USA. Hence Salvatore Mancuso was deported to America on 13 May, 2008.

Text by Andrea Amato, author of L’Impero della Cocaina (Newton Compton Editore)

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#3 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

Married to the Mafia

A woman’s life in a criminal country is complicated in the extreme. Impenetrable rules, brazen customs, inseparable bonds. Where the Mafia governs, women are subordinated to a rigid, immovable code of conduct, requiring them to perform a perilous balancing act between tradition and progressiveness, between moralistic constraints and illimitable coolness in business affairs. They can order a man’s execution, but under no circumstances may they leave or betray their own husband. They can invest in whichever enterprise or trade they choose, but they must not wear any make-up whilst their spouse is behind bars. During Mafia trials, the womenfolk can commonly be seen huddled together  in the gallery blowing kisses or waving to the accused in the steel cage of the dock. These are the wives, even if they look more like their mothers. Dressing up, wearing make-up and nail varnish while their husbands are doing time means they are thinking of someone else. Dying one’s hair is tantamount to admitting to an affair. Without the husband, a wife’s existence means nothing, she is nothing more than a lifeless object. A thing halved. No sooner is the husband incarcerated, than the wife demonstratively neglects her appearance. It is a sign of fidelity, at least amongst the clans of the Campanian hinterland, parts of the ‘Ndrangheta and some Cosa Nostra families. If, on the other hand, she is neatly dolled up to the nines, then her man must be free and not far away. He gives the orders and the way she looks is an expression of his power. Often, however, the most inconspicuous, unkempt wives of bosses in jail are the very women who hold the most sway as they deputize for their absent husbands. In a criminal country, all women share a similar fate, regardless of whether their lives have taken a tragic course, or they have managed to lead a tolerably normal life. Man and wife have invariably known each other since childhood, marrying between the ages of twenty and twenty-five. What better guarantee can there be of virginity than to wed the woman one has known since she was a young girl? It is acceptable for a man to have playmates, so long as they are not Italian – a condition imposed by their wives in recent years: Russian, Polish, Romanian, Moldavian women are considered inferior and incapable of having or raising a family. A relationship with an Italian woman or, worse still, one from the same village, would undermine everything and must be punished accordingly. Sexuality is a defining element of education for both men and women living in the Mafia system. “Never beneath a woman”, as they say.

 

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Allowing the woman to get on top during sex suggests a man easily dominated in everyday life. “Oral sex, never” is another maxim. For a man to be indulged is one thing, but to perform oral sex on a woman is a “canine” taboo. “Never become anyone’s dog” is an old saying still observed even by the younger generation of followers. The laws are even stricter outside of Italy. Take the influential Jamaican Yardie Mafia, for example, active not only in Kingston, but also in many districts of London and New York. Oral sex and anal sex are completely forbidden, as is touching a woman’s anus. These are considered dirty practices (homosexuality is punishable by death in the Jamaican Mafia). Sex has to be dynamic, masculine and, above all, clean. No kissing. A real man knows, he needs his tongue to drink and will not use it for anything less. Clan members are positively obsessed with proving their masculinity and the strict code of sexual conduct serves as a ritual demonstration of their power. It is adhered to in almost every realm of the ‘Ndrangheta, Camorra, the Mafia and the Sacra Corona Unita and is unquestionably more than a mere reflection of a chauvinistic culture. Little else demonstrates so clearly the iron rules of allegiance, hierarchy, power and territorial dominance. This authority presides over life and death, predicated on killing or being killed. Woe betide anyone who believes the rules do not apply to him. Regulating people’s sex lives plays a fundamental role, with even a spot of flirting dictated by marking out one’s turf. Getting to know a woman more intimately runs the risk of breaching enemy territory. In 1994, Antonio Magliulo of Casal di Principe, dared to get involved with a girl who was engaged to one member of the Caselesi clan and sister-in-law to another. Magliulo showered her with gifts and, sensing that she was not so enamoured with her future husband, felt no inclination to back off. He was just crazy about this much younger woman and courted her as was the custom where he came from, with Baci Perugina pralines on Valentines Day and a fox stole at Christmas. He would wait outside her workplace for her of an evening. One hot summer’s day, a few members of the Casalesi clan summoned him to the ‘la Scogliera’ lido in Castelvolturno. They did not even wait to hear him out.

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Maurizio Lavoro, Giuseppe Cecoro and Guido Emilio raked a club spiked with nails over his skull, tied him up and stuffed his mouth and nose with sand. The more he swallowed, in an attempt to breathe, the more they forced into him. He asphyxiated as the sand and saliva hardened like cement in his throat. Executed for making advances to a girl who was related by blood to a leading figure and was already promised to another. To flirt, to date, to spend a night together, these are risky, stressful undertakings, weighed down with responsibility. Valentino Galati was nineteen years old when he disappeared on 26 December 2006 in Filadelfia – not the American Quaker town, but a settlement founded by Freemasons in the province of Vibo Valentia. Valentino was close to the local Ndrina family clan. With ‘Ndrangheta blood flowing through his veins, he signed up and began working for Rocco Anello, the boss. When the latter was sent to jail for extortion (every contractor working on a small stretch of railway had to pay him 50 thousand Euros per kilometre), his wife, Angela Bartucca, became more reliant on the support of the Ndrina. Taking care of the shopping, cleaning, bringing the children to school, Valentino slipped into a pivotal role as her aide. That they should fall into a surreptious relationship seemed almost logical. Yet the fact that he must be punished is equally certain. None of the villagers is surprised when, one day, he vanishes from the face of the Earth. He had an affair with the wife of the boss, and the price for his indiscretion is his life. Only Anna, his mother, refuses to accept the truth. Her son with a clan leader’s wife? Impossible, he’s far too young, barely an adult at all. Yes, indeed, before her son disappeared, Angelina did call in for a coffee from time to time, but she has not done so since. But what does that prove? Valentino’s mother insists “my son had nothing to do with any of this”. She is convinced that there is another explanation, but the Anti-Mafia Directorate disagrees. For a long time, Anna slept on the sofa next to the telephone, waiting for her son to call, afraid she would not hear it ringing from the bedroom. And so, at last, she takes refuge in her silent pain, as the Omertà demands, yet steadfastly refusing to accept the facts. Santo Panzarella from Lamezia Terme, murdered in July 2002, suffered a similar fate. Four years earlier, Santo had fallen in love with Angela Bartucca. Always his Angela. They sprayed him with the contents of an entire clip before slamming him into the boot of a car. But they had been mistaken in believing that Santo Panzarella was dead. He started thrashing out inside the boot.

So they snapped his lower limbs, to prevent his flailing kicks from interrupting his final journey.At the end of the ride, they put a bullet in his head. All that was recovered of his body was a collarbone, which proved sufficient to get the investigation under way. Another man executed for a liaison with the wrong woman. Valentino may well have known that he was risking his life, but that was not going to deter him. Angela Bartucca, a femme fatale, a “praying mantis” as the newspapers liked to call her. Her powers of seduction could make a man forget the mortal danger awaiting him – to love this woman carries a penalty of death. Yet in reality she bears little resemblance to such a creature of legend. Her photograph depicts a nice girl, guilty of nothing more than wanting to have some fun. With her man behind bars, a Mafia wife is expected to practice total abstinence – which goes for lust as well as love. The only exception is when an older boss, married to a younger woman, offers his consent for her to see a surrogate, so to speak, if he himself is serving a lengthy prison sentence. A suitable substitute is the village priest or, if he is not available, a brother, cousin or some other relation. On no account a member who is not a blood relative, somebody who might revel in the relationship to such a degree that a new-found charisma could see the husband replaced. Many women, including the young ones, wear black almost all of the time. Mourning a husband murdered, a brother, nephew, a neighbour slaughtered. Grieving for the killing of  the husband of a co-worker, the son of a distant relative. There is no shortage of reasons to wear black. Underneath, red is worn, to signify the blood which has to be avenged.

A red corsage for the older womenfolk, red lingerie for the younger, a perennial reminder of the blood that keeps the pain alive, the shockingly intimate colour of vengeance, set alight by the contrasting mantle of black . To be widowed in criminal territory is equivalent to losing one’s identity as a woman, reduced to the role of a mother. If a widow wishes to remarry, she needs the permission of her sons. She is only allowed to marry a man whose rank in the Mafia hierarchy is at least equal to that of the husband she has lost. She must first observe seven years of chastity and remain in strict mourning for the same period. This corresponds to the time it takes for the soul to reach its final resting place, as is traditionally believed, so that the soul need not witness her “unfaithfulness”. The charismatic boss of San Cipriano d’Aversa, Antonio Bardellino, attempted to liberate widows from these medieval constraints and enforced suffering. Don Antonio could be heard in the village announcing: “It takes seven years to reach paradise, but where we are heading requires a much shorter journey, namely a single night.” But when Bardellino was murdered, the Schiavone clan seized power and reinstated the old rules of sexual conduct. In August 1993, Paola Stroffolino was caught with a lover. She was the wife of the influential boss Alberto Beneduce, one of the first to supply cocaine and heroin directly to the Caserta coast. Following his assassination, she failed to respect the seven years of widowhood, entering into a relationship with Luigi Griffo. The clan ruled that such a disregard for the former boss could not go unanswered. A close friend, Dario De Simone, was entrusted with the task of exacting punishment. He invited the couple to a farm in Villa Literno under the pretext of sampling the first mozzarella of the season. Instead, each received a single shot to the head. The most basic of executions for two traitors who had disrepected the honour of the dead. Their corpses were then tossed into a deep well in Giugliano by the man who had thus proved his loyalty, aided by Vincenzo Zagaria and Sebastiano Panaro. Sandokan (Francesco Schiavone) and his brother were charged with having issued the orders. The widow of a boss cannot be touched, but if she is tarnished by another man, she loses her inviolable status. In their efforts to remove any doubt the court might have, a revealing statement was made by a key witness for the prosecution: “Dottò, a fuck is more serious than murder where we come from. It’s better to kill the wife of a boss. At least there’s a chance of mercy, but if you fuck her, you’re dead.” To love one another, sleep with each other, kiss, give each other gifts, smile and touch each other’s hands, to seduce a woman or be seduced by her, can be fatal. The last, most dangerous step you take. When implacability is the law, feelings and passion are transgressions payable with death.

#2 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

Brancaccio Commissariat

They are the good guys, watching over the evil heart of Palermo. They live where the Mafia live, among broken-down streets, neon-lit bars it is better not to enter. Monitored by Mafia informers who race by on their mopeds. Surrounded by decaying buildings and the odd memorial plaque here and there, the most famous of which can be found on the Piazza Anita Garibaldi, where Padre Pino Puglisi was killed by a shot in the back of the neck. Born here, the prodigal son returned to found a school. He wanted to get the children off the streets, out of the clutches of criminality.

The good ones sit inside a grey building, close to the railway tracks, resembling a rain-worn factory. It may seem deserted, but this is the site of a commissariat. With the state emblems, bulletproof glass, barriers and a gate, amid the lush undergrowth of Palermo’s outlying districts. This particular district goes by the name of Brancaccio. The commissariat is called the “outpost of the lost”. And the young men who are striving for an exit strategy from this misery, for thirteen hundred Euros a month, are christened the “Brancagel”.

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The word “Brancagel” is uttered as contemptuously in these parts as “sbirro” in Sicily (and Campania and Calabria as well), as the cops, the fuzz are known. The name’s etymological roots go back to the ice cream factory once housed in this cement block. “Branca” derives from Brancaccio and “gel” from “gelato”, or ice cream. Previously, the commissariat was situated in a ground floor flat with kitchen tiles and water pipes in the entrance, part of a cheap residential block. The apartment was destroyed one night – by a gas cylinder with a time fuse, not by bulldozers. The present commissariat, previously an ice cream factory, also had a baptism of fire. A bomb planted on the roof was set to explode on the day of its inauguration in 1991, but the danger was averted just in time. Still, authority stepped forward in the form of the Alto Commissario, responsible for matters concerning the Mafia. High Commissioner Emanuele De Francesco raised the flag, announcing “we shall not be intimidated”. And then he was gone. Only the Brancagel remained.

76,000 people live in Brancaccio, their quality of life is extremely poor. No cinemas, no theatres, no sports fields, just overflowing drains, festering puddles, a miserable level of income, record-breaking numbers of convictions. Fifty people work in the commissariat, running the office and leading investigations, as well as – if the need arises – offering psychotherapeutic assistance and social aid. The streets of the district are a labyrinth covering hundreds of miles. Derelict buildings, backyards, cul-de-sacs, piles of rubbish, unlit alleys.

 

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A patrol covers the streets in each six-hour shift, accompanied by their patron saints to keep them from harm.

Leading the team of investigators is Peppino Costantino, 40 years of age, with a thinnish beard, dark glasses and slim hands. The Mafiosi call him Barbuzza (the bearded one), Can ca’ Barba or Muslim, whichever suits the situation best. He wears a sports jacket, carries two handguns and follows three rules to stay alive: “Trust no one. Stay alert at all times. Never get used to it.” The last is the most important of the three, as “the decay and desolation can get you down so much, it can eat away at your heart and make a blind man of you.. if that happens, then they have beaten you.

Never get used to it. Especially when you see children, ten years old, trained in the art of selling drugs. Or Nigerian girls sent naked onto the streets like slaves. Or when you discover that the new clans are using hearses for their drug deals, lining coffins with cocaine. Or when nobody has seen a thing, nobody heard any shooting, everyone held captive by fear, lie, the Omertà, a wall of silence. Or when you want to make an arrest and they are lobbing roof tiles and wash basins out of the windows at you and the women surround your car, crying and screaming and cursing for as long as it takes for the suspect to make his getaway.”

Peppino Costantino has four men and one woman in his team. They work in the commissariat’s largest, neon-lit room, furnished with plastic desks, old iron cabinets, card index boxes, a map of the district on the wall, a photocopier which has run out of toner, computers – but no internet connection.

No internet?

“There isn’t any connection yet.”

And how does that work?

“We manage.”

How?

“With paper, with our memories, with archives from other commissariats.”

Half of the team is out in the field. The other half is here with him: Fabrizio Di Mazio, his right-hand man, sports jacket, blue eyes, a soft smile on his lips, and Giuseppe Aru, an excellent police officer, a cheerful character, standing firm with his hands in his pockets. The families of all three live outside the district. In places they prefer not to mention. Far away. They also go shopping elsewhere, if needs be. Keeping their distance. Giving away as little as possible about themselves, their wives and children, if indeed they have any. Who can say if they have a home, a wife and children, a weakness of any kind?

Costantino says: “It’s a job you do, if you believe in it.”

Believe in it – what do you mean by that?

“Irregular working hours. Permanent stress. Taking the occasional day off from holidays you didn’t use last year.”

And what do you get out of it?

“That’s a good question.”

Do you ask yourself sometimes?

“Every single day.”

And?

“Let’s take a ride, maybe I’ll come up with a good answer.”

Let’s do just that. Their own two cars are parked outside in the dusty yard, a Fiat Brava and a Fiat Punto, both of which have seen better days, when their paintwork sparkled in the sunlight and the engines started up instantaneously, without coughing out black clouds of smoke. Before the doors squeaked and pedestrians did not stop to watch them bounce over holes in the road, as they do today, spitting on the pavement as they see them driving by. Maybe they will use their mobile phones to report back on the officers’ movements. Just like the guy on the opposite side of the street at this very moment, a picture of equanimity as he speaks: “They are on the move now. Where the fuck are these Brancagel off to?” As one might imagine, this warning message is all part of the day’s routine.
The district of Brancaccio is not marked on the pretty maps of the town which can be found in the hotels at Palermo’s centre. Indeed, why should it be? There are no restaurants, no tourist trails, no sights to be seen here. With the possible exception of the Giardino della Memoria, the memorial garden on the road to Ciaculli – two and a half acres of greenery close to a deconsecrated church and the former villa of Mafia boss Michele Greco, known as the pope. Each of the trees here bears the name of a Mafia victim. School groups or official parties sometimes visit the garden, but at other times the wind blowing through the trees is the only sign of activity. The scent of orange blossom and the stench of smog fill the air.

Brancaccio is a district of some importance. In the 1950s, lemon and orange groves stretched out here as far as the eye could see. Beautiful villas, flowers, swallows and the splendour of Palermo’s Conca d’oro. Then the Sacco di Palermo came along, the great investment scandal which put paid to all that. The era of Vito Ciancimino, Mayor and Andreottiano (associate of Andreotti), transformed this paradise into a miserable hell with a speculative programme of cheap apartment blocks. Good for the drug trade, the conscription of soldiers and the “pizzo” (protection money) demanded of the factories in the so-called industrial zone. In those days, even the dogs had to pay protection money in Brancaccio, so they say. The Graviano brothers, Giuseppe and Filippo, allies of Totò Riina’s Corleone Mafiosi, took charge of the empire as absolute rulers over every soul. Including those who marched past the brothers’ windows during their patron saint processions as a demonstration of their respect and honour. Up until 29 September 1990, when Padre Puglisi was summoned to say Mass at the church of San Gaetano. The son of a cobbler and dressmaker, he had the heart of a lion. His lesson to the congregation was to pray only to God, not to the Mafiosi. He strove to establish the first school between the pitiful dwellings on the Via Hazon, to get the children off the streets. On the evening of his sixty-fifth birthday, the 15 September 1993, he came home to find himself staring down the barrel of a 7.65 silencer. He smiled as he recognised his executioner, Mafia hit man Salvatore Grigoli, 13 murders on his conscience. “Just what I expected” he said, before he died.

He is survived by two things, in addition to the tree in the Giardino della Memoria. His smile, which moved Grigoli to undergo a conversion (“I will never forget the light in his eyes”), turning principal witness after receiving a visit from Karol Wojtyla in jail. And the plaque at the school, named after Puglisi, keeping his memory alive like a posthumous dream, a promise kept.

“They broke in here one night last week, turned the place over and made off with a few old computers”, Costantino and Di Mazio explain as we drive ever so slowly through a crowd who follow our progress or disappear behind their doors. A Piaggio three-wheeler (Apecar) drives alongside us, a little boy standing on the truck bed, trying to keep his balance amongst crates of sea anemones. “I have arrested that driver seven times already. He wants to show he isn’t afraid of us.” At which point he overtakes us with a smile, only to pull up a moment later in front of a bar with darkened blue windows. “The bar owner has gone into hiding.” Immediately alongside is a car mechanic’s, closed down on account of drug dealing. The row continues with a series of empty shops, now used by prostitutes. As far as the gate where somebody was killed a few months ago.

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Costantino lights a cigarette, inhales and tells his partner: “Take a right, so he can see it.” He points out imaginary corpses along the wide road: “We’d pick up at least one every day when things came to a head in the late Eighties, early Nineties. They dropped us off here, in the Via Conte Federico, which runs into the Via Brancaccio. We’d be out on patrol until dawn. First, we’d collect the dead and then we’d go for breakfast.”
Arrested and charged with the 1993 bombings, the Graviano brothers were succeeded by the Guttadauro family. Guiseppe was the boss, a doctor, ruling in the name of Mafia chief Bernardo Provenzano. Giuseppe Guttadauro specialized in hospitals and made life uncomfortable for Sicily’s regional minister, Totò Cuffaro, during his reelection campaign and the Sicilian minister for health, Mimmo Miceli. In this, the penultimate era of the Mafia, private clinics were the new treasure chests waiting to be emptied, receiving government subvention amounting to millions. Much of which passed through Brancaccio.

In Brancaccio, a dose of stepped on cocaine costs between 15-20 Euros. “You can get it around the clock, easier than in the supermarket.” The boys with their mobiles spring into action. They hide their stash in the most unlikely places, even in children’s chocolate surprise eggs for a while, concealed within withered palm leaves. In Brancaccio you can get hold of weapons, explosives and contacts to buy stolen cars, motorbikes, scooters, furniture, televisions or other electronic goods and clothes. “You can find yourself talking to a fifteen year old kid or a seventy year old man. Whatever.”
Brancaccio has experts in weapons-free robberies: they drive to a different part of town, pay a visit to some guy, tell him: we know who you are, we know where you live, we know your children’s timetable. Bring us twenty thousand Euros tomorrow and nobody has to die this time. “This town is like one big cash machine to these characters. Push the button, take the money and go.”

Brancaccio is also home to blowtorch specialists. They break into shops, apartments, offices, fill entire delivery trucks with stolen goods. The vans are unloaded directly into the cellars of the district, into the belly of cheap apartment blocks.

“There is a spot in Brancaccio”, Costantino says, “where there is a particular thing I would really like to do.” He brings the car to a halt up on the Ponte dei Mille bridge, beside the railway station. He gets out and motions to the road before us which leads to the town centre. “You see this road? If I could, I’d cast a net at sunset, just like the fishermen. I would wait until daybreak and catch the sharks of Brancaccio as they race out of town, back from the hunt.” He smiles at the thought. Motorbikes, jeeps, sports cars, shimmering like fish scales. All caught in a big net. “How good would that be?” Knowing full well that his dream will remain just that, he turns his attention  to a half-finished building, remarkably attractive, which they have confiscated from the Mafia. This is earmarked for the new commissariat. Standing for three years already, they are waiting for the final paperwork, the first delivery of bulletproof windows and funding  – equal to the annual salaries of a couple of parliamentarians. Everyone from the commissariat drives by here each day to remind themselves that it really does exist. “There will be central heating and an internet connection as well.” And a bar with decent coffee. And people who don’t growl whenever the Brancagel appear. “Even Brancaccio can get back on its feet”, Costantino tells me. “You asked me why we do this here. I still owe you an answer. Partly out of a sense of responsibility. Partly a sense that all is not lost. There are things we can do every day. Offer our help to those who want to remain upright and to those who have had enough of cowering.” Until the day when there is no need to cast a net for the sharks and the outpost of the lost has served its time.

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#1 Malacarne – Married to the Mob

There is a tragic video recording of the murder of Mariano Bacioterracino, boss of the Sanità district in Naples, always an active hunting ground for the Camorra.

What is remarkable about the video is how composed everyone, including the killer himself, appears at the scene of the execution. “Composure” might sound like something of a paradox, but when a town is in the throes of war, its inhabitants quietly regard events with a sense of cold indifference.

The killer enters a bar, takes a swift look around as if wanting to buy something, then leaves. His prey is standing outside, on the corner of the street, next to a woman who has just purchased a lottery ticket. The killer draws his gun as he crosses the threshold, first shooting the victim in the side, then in the head, the coup de grâce.

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A classic Camorran execution captured on video, a glimpse of reality very different from the image of crime we have grown accustomed to seeing in the cinema. Instantaneous, effective, a carefully premeditated execution.
Such sang-froid, such disciplined movement, this can only be the work of a man who knows his trade. His pistol resting easily in his trouser pocket, the perpetrator emulates none of the techniques of a military operation, he does not stretch out his arm, does not line up his target, there is no shouting. No one notices a thing, it all happens so fast, in the time it takes to drink an espresso at the bar or bump into somebody on a crowded street. All a normal state of affairs, this is how it is when someone is killed.

It is sickening to watch these few seconds of film over and over: the killer enters the bar, looks around, pulls out his gun as he steps outside, one shot to the body, one to the head. A repetitive loop of tape, the same sequence, an exercise in inch-perfect precision from the first to the last gesture. Nothing new, least of all the all-important coup de grâce, as the killer dutifully eliminates any risk of his victim staying alive. The coup de grâce takes care of that.

Anyone who is not a native of Naples is sure to be surprised how the bystanders react in the minutes that follow, as the pool of blood around the dead man’s head grows larger. To the right of the scene, a man with a street stall quietly packs his things together and slopes off with the mininum of fuss. Another man passes by with a little girl in his arms. She looks on inquisitively whilst her father does not bat an eyelid, simply hurrying along with his daughter. The woman with the lottery ticket hears the shots but just moves away, as if nothing more than one of Naples’ typical car accidents has taken place.

In sanctioning the distribution of such a horrific video, the Procura della Repubblica di Napoli, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Naples, has taken an unprecedented step, eliciting an intense reaction. The idea is to encourage the local inhabitants to come forward and offer their assistance, to get involved in solving a murder case for the first time. People know each other in the Sanità district and the face of the killer – a crucial detail – is clearly visible in the film. Anyone who recognizes him can press charges and the hope is that a large number of folk will do just that, a sign that the community will pull together and, for once, avoid a single individual having to go out on a limb. So that the entire district, so often in the headlines for the blood spilt on its streets, can experience justice for themselves.

Ultimately, the video depicts a tragic reality because, more than anything, it shows how little a life is worth in some parts of Italy.

text from the book MALACARNE – Married to the Mob by Alberto Giuliani (EDEL Germany)

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2001 la guerra in Afghanistan

Un detto popolare afghano dice che “il tempo è come una pietra in mezzo a una strada”, a significare che il tempo non ha valore.

Sara forse questa la ragione per cui come si raggiunge il confine afghano da Dushanbè, iniziano delle interminabili quanto inspiegabili attese. Fino agli storici giorni della ritirata talebana, Il tajikistan rappresentava l’unica porta di accesso all’afghanistan dell’Alleanza del Nord. E sin dai primi giorni della crisi il ministero degli esteri Tajiko organizzava convogli diretti al confine per le migliaia di giornalisti stranieri arrivati a Dushanbè. Al di la delle “generose” cure stava la volonta di non lasciarsene sfuggire neppure uno gia che ognuno di noi rappresentava una cospicua somma di dollari per le entrate piu o meno legali dei funzionari statali. I 200 Km che separano la capitale Tajika dal confine Afghano costavano circa 200 dollari a giornalista (tra visti,permessi e auto). A questo si aggiungevano poi le spese per il visto afghano che dai 25 dollari del prima della crisi, è arrivato a 200 (e in alcuni casi anche molto di piu). Il tutto nel tormentato mare della burocrazia post-sovietica! 

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Nonostante tutto cio avesse gia del surreale, era solo un assaggio di cio che avrei incontrato alcuni giorni dopo all’interno dell’Afghanistan. I miei compagni di viaggio erano Tim (giornalista di USA Today) e Rose (del canadese national post). Dopo insensate ore di attesa (che talvolta si trasformavano in giorni) al confine Russo/Tajiko/Afghano – gia, perche anche sulla proprieta del confine c’è ancora un po di confusione – , una chiatta mossa da un vecchio trattore diesel, ci porta alla sponda afghana del fiume. Alla luce di un lume a cherosene i nostri passaporti vengono registrati e timbrati. Destinazione comune a tutti, Kojabbaudin, una trentina di chilometri piu a sud. Costo per il trasporto, 200 dollari. Se il buon giorno si vede dal mattino,  il fatto che dopo pochi Km la ns jeepsi capotti, non era di gran auspicio. A K. Idriver ci accompagna al ministero degli esteriQuattro stanze, una latrina e un grande campo pieno di tende al di la del quale si trova il piccolo edificio dove due mesi fa è stato ucciso Massud, oggi affittato dalla NBC.Il ministero era tappa obbligata dei nuovi  arrivati per assolvere alle pratiche burocraticheMquello era anche il luogo dove la maggior parte dei giornalisti alloggiavano.

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Al nostro arrivo le stanze, le tende e tutti i luoghi coperti del ministero erano gia stracolmi di giornalisti, sacchi a pelo, parabole e telefoni satellitari, computer e generatori elettrici. Dove sistemare i nuovi arrivati? Io ero particolarmente fortunato, potevo vantare dei diritti su di una tenda acquistata da amici che avevano appena lasciato il Paese. Faccio valere i miei diritti e mi permetto di invitare un collega italiano di “Avvenire” rimasto senza riparo. Ricevo in cambio una lussuosa cena fatta di parmigiano e biscotti Italiani!  Al ministero cera anche Ezio, inviato di Uno Mattina. Era li da un paio di settimane e dallalto della sua esperienza mi chiarisce subito le regole del campo: costa 10 dollari al giorno la tenda e 20 la stanza (con o senza vetri alle finestre, si poteva quasi scegliere), pero ci tiene a precisare che non sono cosi fiscali nei controlli e al momento di pagare si puo barare. Nel prezzo è compresa la colazione (pane afghano) e la cena (riso e fagioli). Tea a volonta tutto il giorno. Piu o meno il percorso era simile a tutti:si parte dalla tenda (senza catino) per passare alla stanza senza vetri alle finestre e quando qualche amico lascia una delle altre due stanze ti sposti e ci resti. Ogni mattina decidi dove andare e passi per l’ufficio (la quarta stanza) dopo le 9 col tuo traduttore ed il tuo autista (obbligatori) e ti rilasciano una lettera di autorizzazione. Mentre oltre confine i grandi network televisivi raccontavano una guerra imponente, l’aria che si respirava in afghanistan era decisamente diversa. La domanda piu ricorrente tra tutti i giornalisti era: tu cosa fai oggi?”.  I luoghi da vedere e da raccontare erano sempre gli stessi e uguali per tutti. Non accadeva nulla di nuovo. Dopo una settimana l’unica cosa che restava da fare era ricominciare da capo. Anche da Jalabalsaraj e la valle del Panshir non arrivavano notizie migliori. Ma le esigenze del jetset mediatico erano ben diverse. A tutti i costi era necessario avere la notizia non fosse altro per giustificare gli imponenti investimenti economici dei grandi media. Mentre fuori si vive il medio evo e la fame, i grandi compound delle maggiori televisioni non mancavano di nulla. Dall’acqua calda alle marmellate. Era ben piu dura la situazione per i numerosi inviati della carta stampata che accampati alla meno peggio non disponevano di gran optional. Il giorno che ho scoperto che era a volte possibile avere delle uova a colazione pagando in nero un funzionario del ministero, sono riuscito a mettere su un piccolo business che richiamava colleghi da tutti gli angoli dell’accampamento. Il prezzo era degno di un ristorante occidentale ma adeguato ai costi della vita da giornalista a Kojabbauddin. Il costo di un autista e di un interprete per una giornata variava dai 200 ai 300 dollari. Le auto e gli interpreti realmente buoni non erano tanti e per loro il prezzo saliva al miglior offerente. Se poi si decideva di spostarsi dalla città le tariffe volavano inspiegabilmente alle stelle. Una televisione spagnola è arrivata a pagare 5000 dollari per un auto che li portasse in Panshir (2/3 giorni di viaggio). Tutto va comparato alla realta locale dove un ottimo impiego puo fruttare 20 dollari al mese. Ma il problema principale restavano gli avvenimenti, che non avvenivano. Cosi il clima si trasformava in una estenuante attesa. Il clima si è scaldato un po quando il pomeriggio del 29 ottobre la prima bomba americana viene sganciata sulla prima linea talebana nei pressi di Kojabb. I continui bombardamenti USA non cambiarono niente della vita quotidiana dell’alleanza del nord se non che si diregevano al fronte con maggior curiosita di quanto non facessero prima. La terra che tremava li faceva sorridere e tutto sembrava un grande gioco. In molti casi i soldati dell’alleanza al fronte non avevano piu munizioni da sparare perche le avevano sparate tutte per i giornalisti dietro lauta ricompensa.

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E mentre le tv raccontavano di furiosi combattimenti al fronte, i mujeiidin parlavano per radio con i Talebani chiededogli dei bombardamenti. Di certo l’alleanza ne era pronta ne aveva voglia di avanzare. La guerra che combattevano era cosa vecchia. In fondo mi domandavo che cosa in una terra tanto inospitale si potesse fare se non la guerra. Dallaltro canto in una situazione tanto statica, i grandi giornalisti di guerra preparavano i loro bagagli e lasciavano il paese rimandando con assoluta certezza l’appuntamento alla prossima primavera. Di certo il Ramadan e linverno avrebbero congelato la situazione. E un intervento americano di terra era praticamente impossibile. Nel giro di un paio di settimane a Kojabbaudin erano rimasti solo i grandi network televisivi e una manciata di fotografi e giornalisti. Le migliori condizioni atmosferiche (assenti da settimane) hanno permesso alle decine di giornalisti bloccate in Panshir di rientrare in Tajikistan. Il Paese si stava svuotando nella evidente preoccupazione di autisti, traduttori e impiegati ministeriali. E anche io assieme a due colleghi spagnoli decido di rientrare. Ancora 150 dollari per tornare al fiume e la chiatta che ci traghetta sulla sponda Tajika. Impressionante come dopo aver conosciuto il medio evo, il depresso Tajikistan ci sembrasse Las Vegas. Dopo poche ore ero gia seduto su un comodo sofa di dushanbe sorseggiando wisky e guardando BBC World. La notizia del giorno era che le truppe dellalleanza stavano muovendo verso Mazar i Sharif. Mi dico che era impossibile e passo al canale russo. L’indomani corro a prenotare il mio volo per Monaco, gia overbooked dallimpressionante numero di giornalisti in rientro. Ottengo un posto. Sul mio volo la troupe rai di Ennio Reimondino. All’arrivo a Monaco la conferma della notizia che le truppe dellalleanza erano entrate a Kabul. Nessuno era riuscito ad immaginare una possibile ritirata dell’esercito Talebano.

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 Lteoria di Sultani

 Sultani è un buon traduttore. Un giorno con un collega di Asia Week abbiamo avuto modo di chiacchierare un po sulla sua vita ed è uscito fuori che Sultani è un medico, laureato a Kabul una decina di anni prima. Particolarmente colto e aperto, mi sono permesso di fargli delle domande sulle donne afghane che ritengo molto belle. Lui ci ha illustrato una teoria che ha studiato sui libri all’universita e che a suo dire ha avuto modo di verificare di persona secondo cui fare troppo sesso e guardare film porno fa perdere la memoria e fa diventare ciechi. Nei casi piu drammatici porta alla paralisi!  Cercavo di sdrammatizzre e mi lascio sfuggire una domanda sulla prostituzione in Afghanistan  Sultani mi dice che è abbastanza frequente. Bisogna andare nei mercati, guardare un po le donne e cercare di capire quli sono disponibili… non sono pero riuscito ad immaginarmi come cio sia possibile gia che tutte indossano il burqa. Ma mi fido del Dr. Sultani.

Il matrimonio di Fayaz

  Fayaz è un pessimo traduttore ma va aiutato per la sua buona causa. Sta cercando di mettere da parte soldi per comprarsi una moglie. Non è particolarmente bello ne particolarmente intelligente ma questo in Afghanistan non conta molto. Le donne si comprano (fino a un massimo di 4) e costano mediamente 2 o 3000 dollari (luna). Ho provato ad aiutarlo ingaggiandolo per un paio di giorni, ma lui non aiutava me col suo inglese improvvisato.

La giornata tipo

Sveglia all’alba. Visita alla latrina (il peggior momento della giornata) Attesa (variabile dai 30’alle 2 ore) per la distribuzione del pane e del tea. Ribollitura del tea dopo che un po di colleghi hanno passato giorni in latrina. Fila allufficio del ministero per il permesso per andare al fronte.  Verso le 9,30/10 si parte per Dashti Kala (dove passa la prima linea). 35 Km di non strada, per arrivare al comando militare che deva vidimare la lettera. E’ necessario parlare con il comandante. Pur essendo una pura formalità puo richiedere ore gia che tutti sono comandanti in afghanistan ma nessuno è mai quello giusto. La tappa successiva è al fiume. Si contratta un prezzo per avere un cavallo con cui attraversare il fiume(solitamente 20 dollari). Ancora 1 ora di cavallo. Si arriva al fronte. Qui controllano la lettera anche se nel 90 percento dei casi l’addetto è analfabeta. Parte la visita alle trincee. Nei giorni di punta i giornalisti riempiono le polverose trincee e bisogna aspettare il proprio turno per lo sand-up o le foto. Pranzo consistene in orribili biscotti iraniani alla vaniglia. Di nuovo a cavallo verso il fiume. Traversata (per molti non indolore gia che ho visto piu di un fotografo cadere in acqua con tutta l’attrezzatura). Ancora unora di auto e di nuovo al Ministero. Chi doveva spedire larticolo dispiegava sull’unico tavolo disponibile computer, tel satellitari, macchine fotografiche. Chi arrivava tardi doveva attendere che almeno una delle tre prese di corrente si liberasse. Chi era impegnato coi moderni sistemi digitali restava in piedi fino a tardi combattendo con la corrente elettrica che andava e veniva a piacimento del vecchio generatore diesel, con le linee satellitari che facevano altrettanto. Gli altri formavano dei capannelli di gente dalle proveninienze piu disparate che si raccontavano i fatti del giorno. E si potevano sentire le tragiche interviste fatte a bambini senza gambe ne genitori (che funziona sempre, specialmente se i genitori sono stati uccisi dai talebani) fino alle drammatiche vicende di corna d’oltreoceano. La cena era attesa con trepidazione non tanto per la fame (che ormai non si accusava piu) quanto perché scandiva un momento della giornata prossima alla fine. E il fatto di trovarsi sempre di fronte un pugno di riso e una cucchiaiata di fagioli era talvolta uno stimolo per lanciarsi nella preparazione di piatti piu ricercati quali riscaldare con cura e pazienza una scatoletta di sardine al pomodoro…  

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