Gioia Tauro, Italy - 31 August, 2012: Mayor of Gioia Tauro Renato Bellofiore, 44, complains about the debt left by his predecessors, in Gioia Tauro, Italy, on August 31, 2012. Mr Bellofiore was elected in 2010 after the former mayor and deputy mayor, Giorgio Dal Torrione and Rosario Schiavone, were arrested on Mafia charges in 2008. Both had been forced to step down when the city council was dissolved on suspicion of Mafia infiltration. Gioia Tauro is a city of 19,000 people built on an ancient Greek necrapolis and that today has the largest seaport in Italy and the sevent largest container port in Europe with its extension of 4,646 meters. Because the port is not connected to adeguate roads or rails, the ships mostly transfer containers to smaller vessels and little economic activity stays local. To authorities, the port is best known as the first point of entry for most of the cocaine that enters Europe from South America. In a routine rais earlier this month, authorities seized 176 kilos of pure cocaine with an estimated street value of 38 million euros.
Calabria is one of the poorest Italian regions which suffers from lack of basic services (hospitals without proper equipment, irregular electricity and water), the product of disparate political interests vying for power. The region is dominated by the 'Ndrangheta (pronounced en-Drang-get-A), which authorities say is the most powerful in Italy because it is the welthiest and best organized.
The region today has nearly 20 percent unemployment, 40 percent youth unemployment and among the lowest female unemployment and broadband Internet levels in Italy. Business suffer since poor infrastructure drives up transport costs.
Last summer the European Union's anti-fraud office demanded that Italy redirect 380 million euros in structural funding away from the A3 Salerno - Reggio Calabria highway after finding widespread evidence of corruption in the bidding processes.
- ©2012 Gianni Cipriano
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