Salvatore Giuliano

From Academic Kids

Salvatore Giuliano (November 16, 1922July 5/6, 1950) was a Sicilian bandit, black marketeer, and right-wing nationalist, who has been mythologized after his death.

Salvatore Giuliano was born on November 16, 1922 in Montelepre as the fourth child of Salvatore and Maria Giuliano and was nicknamed Turiddu. He had a decent primary education, but then went to work on his father's land at the age of thirteen. He transported olive oil and worked as a telephone repairman and on road construction. He was called into the Italian army, but the US invasion of Sicily prevented his actual enlistment. He became involved in the wartime black market and was armed in case of attacks from bandits.

On September 2, 1943, he killed a Sicilian carabinieri at a checkpoint near Quattro Molini while transporting stolen grain. He left his identity papers at the scene and was wounded when another officer shot him as he was running away. His family sent him to Palermo to have the bullet removed. In late December, a number of residents of Montelepre, including Giuliano's father, were arrested during a police raid. Giuliano helped some of them escape from prison, and a number of the freed men stayed with him.

In the Sagama mountains, Giuliano collected a gang of bandits, criminals, deserters, homeless, and outlaws under his leadership. He gave the fifty men military-style training in markmanship. The gang took to robbery and burglary for the money they needed for food and weapons. When carabinieri came to look for them, they were met with accurate submachinegun fire.

He also joined a Sicilian nationalist group, the MIS, with close ties to the Mafia and led small-scale attacks on government and police targets in the name of this movement. His actions continued post-war, and he supported the MIS and the similar MASCA with funds for the 1946 elections, in which both groups did poorly.

Reputedly, Giuliano himself would have liked to have seen Sicily become a state within the United States of America. He sent president Harry S. Truman a letter where he urged him to annex Sicily.

Giuliano also fostered a number of myths around himself. One tale tells how he found out that a postal worker was stealing letters that contained money that Sicilian families had sent to their relatives in the USA; he killed the postal worker and assured that the letters continued to their correct destination. When he robbed the duchess of Pratameno, he left her with her wedding ring and borrowed a book she was reading; he returned it later with compliments. He fostered cooperation of poor tenant farmers by sending them money and food.

In 1947 with his group steadily shrinking he turned to kidnapping for ransom and turned regular profits. Also in that year there were more elections, following a limited victory for socialist-communist groups. On May 1 Giuliano led his remaining men on a raid to Portella Della Ginestra, intending to capture prominent communist Girolamo Li Causi. However, the event turned into a massacre when he and his men opened fire on the labor parade. Eleven civilians, including woman and three children, were killed and over thirty wounded. Giuliano continued to work against socialist groups whenever he had the opportunity.

By 1948 his popular support was ebbing, locals and even the Mafia were less willing to aid Giuliano and gave the police information, despite Giuliano's tendency to kill suspected informers. Giuliano dared police by sending them boisterous letters about himself and dining in Palermo restaurants and leaving a note about his presence with a tip. The reward for his capture was doubled, and a special police force was instituted to suppress banditry. 300 carabinieri attacked his mountain stronghold, but most of Giuliano's gang escaped. On August 14 1949 Giuliano's men exploded mines under police barracks outside Palermo.

On July 5 1950, Giuliano was shot in Castelvetrano. According to police, carabinieri captain Antonio Perenze shot him as he was resisting arrest. However, Gaspare Pisciotta, Giuliano's cousin and his former lieutenant, claimed later that police had promised him a pardon and reward if he would kill Giuliano. Giuliano's mother Maria also seemed to believe that. Pisciotta died four years later in prison, allegedly from poisoning.

A film of his life, Salvatore Giuliano, was directed by Francesco Rosi in 1961. A monument to Giuliano was raised in Montelepre in 1980. Mario Puzo also wrote "The Sicilian," a dramatized version of Giuliano's life titled which was published in Giuliano


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