High School in Partinico named after Impastato, Casa Memoria writes to the Prefect: “Respect democracy”

Explain in brief the following article:
“We receive and publish the letter from the Casa Memoria Felicia and Peppino Impastato Association, addressed to the Superintendent of Schools and the Prefect of Palermo, regarding the controversies that arose after the students’ rejection of naming the Savarino Institute in Partinico after Impastato.

As Casa Memoria Impastato, following the controversies surrounding the naming of the high school in Partinico, we ask that action be taken in the name of democracy and in respect of the decision made democratically, through the regular process by the School Council (both in 2022 and 2024), promptly naming the aforementioned school after Felicia and Peppino Impastato.

It has been for us, the family members of Felicia and Peppino Impastato and activists of Casa Memoria, days of great bitterness, alleviated only by the solidarity shown to us by hundreds of people, organizations, associations from all over Italy.

We stand in solidarity with the School Councils (both the one that voted in 2022 and the current one) that acted with courage in a difficult climate, defamed and accused of being undemocratic when, in fact, the process followed, as mentioned above, was regular and democratic: initiated with consultations, then with a discussion among the various representatives, and concluded with a vote (unanimously in the first case, by majority in the second) in favor of changing the school’s name from Santi Savarino to Felicia and Peppino Impastato.

There have been references to a referendum among the students of the high school, which was irregular, with a non-secret vote taken by raising hands, in a tense atmosphere that surely did not promote serenity or awareness among the students. A referendum, even if conducted according to the proper rules (e.g., secret voting), would still have been devoid of decision-making power because democracy is conducted following rules that guarantee its correct implementation, not by “mob rule,” as our Constitution teaches.

We consider the positions taken by the municipal administration of Partinico, led by Mayor Rao, to be serious. Last year, the administration wanted to present a motion to deny the naming of the school after Felicia and Peppino (an unacceptable interference because the politics governing a municipality can express an opinion but have no decision-making power over the choices of a school). On that occasion, after receiving numerous national criticisms, the municipality stepped back, accepting the naming of Felicia and Peppino.

Now, the responsibility for any denial of the name change has been placed solely on the students, starting from this anomalous referendum that has put them in a bad light in front of all of Italy, making them appear as those who prefer a figure like Savarino, close to the mafia and fascism, rather than two symbols of the anti-mafia struggle like Felicia and Peppino Impastato. The students have used (or perhaps have been induced to use) words that have saddened everyone; they have spoken of a “divisive” Peppino, a term that has offended all those who have united in his name over the years, a concrete symbol of the anti-mafia fight.

We want to have a dialogue with these students, listen to them, and talk to them because we do not believe they are against Peppino Impastato or celebrate the mafia, even though this has been suggested by various sources. The division was created by a crude politics that insisted on not accepting Peppino’s name (and his mother’s) in the school he attended, preferring a figure who, in addition to being a signatory of racial laws, was close to the mafia boss Franck Coppola. All this has branded the students of Partinico as the classic “mafioso Sicilians,” a stigma from which, as free Sicilians, we fight daily to emancipate ourselves, trying to spread a culture and mentality free from the yoke of the mafia.

This politics cannot accept that Peppino Impastato’s anti-mafia action has a strong ideal connotation. We believe that those who want to deny his political choices, those that led him to fight against the mafia, want to dilute the history of an entire country. They want to fuel a populism and a historical revisionism so popular nowadays, one that erases memory and denies truth. Peppino chose which side to be on: that of the weakest, the exploited, against power and corrupt politics. If this is divisive, we claim it. At the same time, we know that Peppino’s courageous choice to break with the mafia, starting with a rupture within his own mafia family, has united many different worlds that have recognized themselves in his fight against the mafia and his values: defending democracy and freedom. To Peppino’s choice is added that of Felicia, a woman recognized by all as a defender of democracy, justice, and a partisan in the fight against the mafia.

Unfortunately, this administration has made a bad impression on its town, even turning it into a matter of local rivalry between Cinisi and Partinico, continuing to express support for Savarino, downplaying the factors that make him unsettling (his proximity to fascism and the mafia), and then backtracking by trying to confuse matters with other possible names (instrumentalizing respected anti-mafia figures), not fully finding the courage to openly express its hostility towards Peppino Impastato, an anti-fascist and anti-mafia figure.

We hope that our appeal to restore democracy and honor two people who dedicated their entire lives to fighting the mafia will be heeded.”

L’intitolazione del liceo di Partinico a Impastato, Casa Memoria scrive al Prefetto: «Si rispetti la democrazia»

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