In talks with HBO and CBS’ “60 Minutes” about various projects, Casiraghi said, “I’ve seen it in my job — you just expose a problem, sometimes it gets fixed, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Early on in her career she had to repeatedly feature some of the 250 families, who were suffering from cancer due to living in public housing contaminated with toxic material in Milan, on Italian state TV. It wasn’t until she “kind of tricked” Italy’s Minister of Environment to appear on-air unknowingly with the ill residents that the families were later relocated to a safe location. “That is just to say that by insisting and never giving up, my opinion, can — not always — make things improve,” she said.
At a meeting Tuesday night with HBO Documentary Films’ president Sheila Nevins, she planned to pitch a documentary about how toxic waste has caused birth defects among children in the Philippines, an issue that her mother-in-law first clued her into. Having done two documentaries about the women of the Calabria mafia, “the most powerful one in the world at the moment because they monopolize the cocaine trafficking in Europe,” Casiraghi pitched a TV show about that.
Having spent time with the Calabria mafia, she said, “The soul is in Calbria, the brain is in Milan and actually the families that I met were in New York. They are fast-infiltrating New York because the new route for cocaine trafficking goes from South America to Italy via New York. Instead of shipping huge shipments of crack cocaine from South America [and risking losing a lot of money in the process if they get caught], they send little packages of a maximum of one kilogram from New York. It’s almost impossible to detect it unless you know who will pick them up. That’s the only way they catch them.”
In researching her thesis at Columbia University, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism, Casiraghi relied on the many prosecutors she knows in Italy for insight and investigation reports. “I saw so many names of women and I said, ‘This can’t be.’ You know it’s such a patriarchal society. In the Sicilian Mafia the women are almost zero. They are not even allowed to get a divorce. Here, it is such a women-based society and no one knows it yet. This is the mafia today,” she said. “You know they make about 30 billion euros [$33 billion] each year? Without taxes of course.”
Noting that she tries not to be disrespectful to the mafia, Casiraghi said, “I write about them. I say everything. But I don’t joke about it or ridicule them because I know that really triggers a reaction.” At work on a long exposee for Stern magazine about how Germany is the second most-infiltrated country by the Calabria Mafia, Casiraghi said, “People just have no idea because the government refuses to acknowledge it to scare off foreign investors. In fact, they are everywhere.”
Her husband, who once went undercover with her to take photographs of female Mafia members, understands her drive. “My husband is a very clever man and he knows who I am. He would never ever try to discourage me from anything. He also knows that I’m not crazy. I’m not looking for trouble. I’m just trying to do my job. I take precautions as much as possible,” she said. “But I don’t think he could ever be with a woman who was just at home.
- Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi: Never Enough Work to Be Done, WWD