Homage to Gianluca Congiusta, a young businessman from Calabria, an innocent victim of the ‘Ndrangheta and our indifference

Gianluca Congiusta's smile

Gianluca Congiusta’s smile

During the Summer Term Course field study of Arcadia University Italy Programs in July 2013 (and again in 2014), we met with Mario Congiusta, the father of Gianluca, a young entrepreneur assassinated on May 24, 2005 in Siderno by the ‘Ndrangheta, the powerful and bloody Calabrian mafia.
The meeting with Mario was very instructive due to his clarity in explaining to the students about the dynamics of the mafia and its illogical nature, but it was especially hard and moving for the students. It was also difficult for me, a teacher of this difficult subject, to digest, for I thought I had been used to these tragedies by reading the daily news.
We briefly met Mario with his wife Donatella a few days before the inauguration of the confiscated property in Gioiosa Ionica: the house where the Arcadian students stayed for the entire period. Donatella had conquered everything with her force and her humanity: more than one student, after hearing her few moving words about Gianluca, and after seeing her sweet and hopeless face, approached her after to give their condolences and tell her how grateful they were to meet her. And she smiled hopefully, with gratitude, and gave them a tender hug as if they were children. Meeting the heartbreaking strength of Donatella definitely cancelled those traces—if they’d had them—of the glossy image of the mafia: the real pain of a mother swept away the golden crust of the lie of many American show business productions.
The meeting with Mario, a long interview lasting over two hours, was just as difficult. When a father tells you with pride the story of his son, of a brilliant son full of life, you find it difficult to think that this life was swept away in a moment and for no other reason than the human bestiality that is the mafia. You feel shame for not realizing the depth of the problem before the story, because you feel you are not doing enough in your daily lives to spread the history and the culture of the anti-mafia, of the life and the beauty in opposing that culture of death and corruption that is the culture of the mafia, that unfortunately today pollutes all of Italy.
Then the Arcadian students and myself made a promise to Mario: to make as much of the world as possible to know about the story of Gianluca, the smiling Calabrian man that lived two times. Because, in an ironic sort of way, Gianluca had already been close to death. But death had lost as he healed from leukemia.
The second time, Gianluca had been spending years being devoted to honest work, to his family and to the future, without rest, maybe — I come to think of it — so he could give even more in every sense and in every breath so that he could share the joy with those who stood beside him.
But the bestiality and the cowardice of the mafia do not know reason. Today the murderer of Gianluca is condemned to life in prison, thanks to the perseverance of Mario, who constantly pressured the police and judiciary so that the case would be resolved and not end up forgotten. In today’s Italy, a man struck by such fatality must take this on, as well!
But, even if justice is done, Gianluca, the honest and courageous young man from Southern Italy that would like to live free from the Mafia, from the accomplices entrepreneurs and bad politicians, to life he cannot be returned, unless by honoring his memory.
Here, the translation of Roberta’s letter, one of Gianluca beloved sisters – (the-story-of-gianluca-congiusta-corbino-arcadia-university.pdf – is the smallest tribute that the Arcadia University Center for Italian Studies, thanks to the work of their students and staff, wants to make to the memory of Gianluca Congiusta, to the force of his family and all the families of innocent victims of the mafia and to those who, in this Italy besieged by corruption and mafiosi, still believe in a sense of justice that Gianluca reminded us with his own example of courage.

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Alberto Corbino è l'autore dei blogs: https://labuonaeconomia.wordpress.com ; http://ventanillas.wordpress.com ; http://italiain3b.wordpress.com http://edabpm.wordpress.com . Per ulteriori info, visitare la pagina: "l'autore di questo blog"
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