The Indicator from Planet Money - When Life Gives You Lemons...Start The Mafia?

The essential ingredient in the birth of the mafia as we know it wasn't the threats or the murders or the other stuff that's great for Hollywood. It was...lemons.

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Content Keywords: landlord Galati warden mafioso Sicily guy
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Everyone things have been super serious lately and really all year really intense with the u.s. Election and of course covid-19 economy. And so today on the show. We are going to pause for a break and we're going to re-air a really fun episode one of our all-time favorites from the early days of the indicator a few years back about the origins of the Sicilian Mafia. It is NPR.

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Beers 1872 and the landlord of lemon farm just outside of Palermo in Sicily is having trouble with the local mafioso. The landlord is a surgeon named kaspari karate and the mafioso he was dealing with was the warden of galati's own Farm, but I was supposed to be protecting it instead the warden was stealing from it himself. So dr. Duarte fires and hires a new Warden that new Warden was probably shot in the back and killed the police didn't seem to care so doctor glad he hires the next Warden and that guy was also shot at least he survived did he have trouble hiring a third a chance and alter at this drama. Dr. Galati was reporting these events to authorities eventually he and his family were chased out of Sicily. But that is the first detailed written record. We have of the mafia and how it operated a study about the origins of the mafia reveals that the detail that matters in. Dr. Galati story is not the threats or the murderer or all the other stuff. That's great for Hollywood mu

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The detail that matters is actually with dr. Galati was trying to sell lemons.

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I'm Cardiff Garcia and I'm sure this is the indicator from planet money today on the show a blast from the late 1800 the rise of the mafia.

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In the 1700 British scientist named James Lin discovered. The lemons were an effective cure for scurvy the British Navy started requiring it ships to be stocked with lemon juice in 1795 and combined with Rising global trade. Generally. There's a huge boom in demand for Sicilian lemons. He was already known around the world for at Citrus farms and my 1850 Sicily was exploring almost twice as many cases of lemons as it had been 15 years earlier and expansion accelerated over the next few decades. Eventually almost three-quarters of all lemons imported by the United States Came From Italy and most of those were from Sicily in Sicilian landlord had long operated under a kind of feudal system. Alessia is sloppy is an economist at the University of Manchester in the UK and she wrote a paper on the mafia along with her colleagues. She says these landlords will making a killing on these lemons the people who works for them noticed from that time. You can see the Villas out there. They were just friends.

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Thick intense of painting the Arts culture with amazing because there were like her having lots of profit from their activity and just invest in for themselves not redistribution get to this is the landlord's depended on a class of workers notice gavilyte-g to protect their farms and oversee their workers 1860. Sicily became part of a unified Italy and he's got a lot of lost their jobs because the government the police the courts when now supposed to be the ones protecting the Farms from thieves says a lot of these guys then joins the police themselves, but at the same time they also join didn't really kind of Proto Mafia that already existed back then by the very people meant to protect the Farms during the days police officers were often the same ones extorting the landlord's at night demanding money for and doing airport to your protection. He is doing this is roughly the point around the mid-to-late eighteen hundreds that the mafia really started to thrive right to offer protection from

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But of course that also meant the landlord to didn't pay them would become targets and these local mafias were steadily becoming better organized. They had to cut a military structural Su says and they accepted recruits from all social classes. One thing you have to remember is that from the very beginning the mafia is characterized by having people from ulcers of class. We can say sold. The word doctor is the policeman wants print to do the landlord's essentially just leave or did they give up their Farms or where did they go doing the same activities, but they didn't have the political support from the previous situation anymore in The Godfather. There was this, California Phil mobile.

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Beautiful horse, and at first he refused to do a favor for Marlon Brando.

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I want to make him an offer he can't refuse I remember this and then the guy wakes up in the morning.

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And the lopped-off head of his prized horse was at the foot of his bed and mafiosos actually used to do you find a dead head of an animal in front of the door that's crazy enough, but believe it or not mutilated animal heads wasn't all they did kind of the least of your problems. You might get shot in your leg when your arm just as a warning for my God. That's that's considered a warning is just it to get shot in the leg. Okay. So unless he says that the week Italian State the corrupt bureaucrats and police the lack of societal trust in the government. These were all necessary conditions for the mafia to emerge but they don't tell the whole story because those conditions apply to the entire island of Sicily, but in his early decades the mafia was only a powerful force in specific regions. I want to let you enter college did was to look at the places where

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Surveys of local judges were reporting high levels of Mafia activity and they found those were the same places where the lemon Farms were all of which suggested even though the right circumstances already exists. Did the global boom in the lemon trade was the necessary spark that made the mafia flourish. So here we have to ask. What is it specifically about lemons that led to the mafia for one thing. They were hugely profitable which means in a tempting Target for people to steal but also unlike other crops like wheat or something. They were really easy to steal you can just pull them off the tree and they also needed to be transported gently to whoever was buying them because they went rotten whenever they were bruised and that meant lemons needed to be protected and lemon Farms needed security guards, especially because getting into the lemon business was an expensive investment you had to dig in your gation network build a wall to protect the Orchard and have a place to store the women's that's why lemon forms were so vulnerable and that boner

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Combined with the lack of protective institutions and the huge profits available was also the opening that the mafia exploited to become a big societal Force.

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A word about our sourcing Alessia safi's colleagues who wrote the paper with her were arcangelo D'Amico and Olson that paper titles origins of the Sicilian Mafia the market for lemons in the paper that reference a book by John Dickey called Cosa Nostra a history of the Sicilian Mafia. And that's also where we found the detailed story of. Dr. Galati. Finally. The clips were from Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather.

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Miss episode of the indicator was produced by Darius Rafi on and Brittany Cronin. Our editor is Patty Hearst in the indicator is a production of NPR.

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On the next episode of louder than a riot Bobby Shmurda transition from the streets to superstardom and how viral Fame less than infamy criminal activity going on. I know and Hip-Hop the batter the better to louder than a riot to NPR music.
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