The Origins of the Mafia.

Almost from the beginning of time when it was felt that the Island of Sicily was of some worth, some value, it has been occupied or exploited by foreign powers. Often allowed to occur by the powers that be on the main land, Italy. It has been conquered and ruled by the Arabs, the Greeks, the Spanish, the French and more. For centuries the faith of the Sicilian people was in the hands of various powers.

Being located in the center of the Mediterranean, at the tip of Italy's boot, and separated from the main land by ninety miles of water called the Straits of Messina, when problems arose on the Island and it was in the best interest of the main land to ignore, the Italian authority on the main land would conveniently turn a deaf ear to the islander's plight.

After centuries of failed attempts by the Sicilian people to help themselves, at about the fourteen hundreds, the natives of this small island could no longer tolerate the many abuses of the past and would not settle for what seemed to be a new type of abuse.

The most brutal of the abuses occurred at the hands of what became known as pirates. For about fifty years they would all but rule the seas. Because of the busy world trade ports from Spain to Turkey, Sicily became an easy place of replenishment. These pirates comprised of the scum of the earth to educated disgruntled Naval officers of the British fleet.

This was also the time of Spanish wealth, ruthless merchant captains from many different lands. Besides the burdens place on the people by foreign entities, now they had to endure Murder, rape and the kidnapping of their men, women and young children to serve these merciless men on board their ships never to return. When their usefulness was over, they would be killed and disposed of in the oceans of the world.

At about this time a small and secret organization was created by a group of daring, dedicated men of Sicily to protect themselves and all they cared about. Among them were small businessmen, farmers and average countrymen who for the most part had suffered a loss at the hands of these men.

This group with no name, became so successful at dealing with the Islander's problem, that within twenty-five years of its existence, the murders, rapes and kidnapping had all but come to an end. The small businessmen and farmers now found themselves becoming wealthier than they could have ever imagined.

Almost all of the charter members of this small band of men had now become wealthy landowners or wealthy businessmen. The new security that the Islanders came to know and enjoy now needed protection and with that goal in mind the secret group enlarged and became even more powerful and secretive.

There was no name for this secret society because it was not needed. If it had no name, it was harder to refer to and was harder to find. There was only a hand full of powerful men who knew everything about its operations. The men, who performed the required duties, did so without asking questions. Directives were given and orders were followed to the letter, upon penalty of assassination

Over the next three hundred plus years the group became so successful that by the eighteen hundreds, like any large corporation, it started to protect itself against itself. That is conflict and dissension from within. In so doing it became as greedy as any large company who does not want to surrender its sole domain.

As suspicion of each other and the seeds of greed set in, the group started fracturing and smaller groups emerged. A group's strength would be determined by the land its powerful owner possessed. These packages of land became known as providence.

In turn, the small towns within these providence's would be given to a trusted member of a wealthy land owner to supervise and rule. By now there was so much respect for this secret organization among the islanders, especially by those who were not involved, that the judgments and demands placed on the Islanders were tolerated and honored with the utmost in silence. When the silence was broken, the offender would be disposed of, never to be heard from again.

So in general, when the people of the island witnessed something that was out of the normal, they would turn a deaf ear and their backs to it, offering complete submission and dedication to their protector, the organization that they did not want to know anything about. Often their own relatives were part of it, but its existence was never mentioned.

Unofficially and without speaking a vow of silence was taken by all. In this silence a sense of trust and faith came to be formed by knowing that they were being protected by their own. Something that they had never known at the hands of others.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Places like Ellis Island opened it's gates to the world. From places around the world like Sicily came good, hard working people. People who not only wanted to get away from the need for this secret organization, but people who earnestly wanted a chance at a better life, to change their lot.

There also were the young tyrants who could not make in roads in their native country of Sicily, but had the vision to see the possibility for protection rackets of all types in this new country. So they mingled in with the decent people and were accepted at the gates of this new country.

It is in this Sicilian setting that a child is born who's life will be altered by events not of his doing that will take him to the other side of the world, only to end his life with the same lot he would have acquired if he never left his home. This is Cheech's story.

Dominic Caruso... (c) 1986