Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pizzo, an ancient word of Sicilian origin meaning protection money

Pizzo is money that shop and business owners in Palermo and other places in Sicily pay for protection or “allowance to run their business.” In a certain sense, this is a tax paid to a criminally, rather than a governmentally authority—although the alude is occassionally been made that this distinction can not always been derived that clearly. Anti-mafia activists and business people in Sicily are gaining strength and are refusing the pizzo scheme. Libera Terra is such an affiliation of people that are starting agricultural projects on land confiscated from the Mafia [1], creating employment and confidence in “enterprises without a Godfather.”

The meaning of the Italian compositum Adiopizzo is easy to guess: Goodbye Pizzo. This is the name of a new citizen group organizing resistance to illegal protection payments [1]. Palermo now has stores that sell only goods from artisans and manufacturers that refuse pizzo payments.

[1] Joshua Hammer: Defying the Godfather. Smithsonian October 2010, Volume 41, Number 6, pp. 37-47. In Sciliy, Defying the Mafia.

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