New Mayor invites Obama to Naples

Anthony M. Quattrone

Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris (L), shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden during the visit to Capodichino U.S. Navy Base in Naples, Italy, on 04 June 2011. On Right President of Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro. (Photo SkyTg24)

The newly elected mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, has invited President Barack Obama to visit Naples.  The Mayor, who is a staunch supporter of the American president, is hopeful that a visit by Obama could be used as a milestone for the rebirth of the city, which has been plagued by waste disposal problems, violent and petty crime against citizens and tourists, and collusion between organized crime and politicians.
During the visit by American Vice President, Joe Biden, to the US Naval Support Activity in Naples, Mayor de Magistris formalized his invitation to President Obama.  The Mayor stated that “I will work very hard for this event to take place – it is not an improvised matter, but something in which I firmly believe.  I believe that there are all the conditions for the visit to take place, but the timing needs to be verified.  I am an Obama supporter and I know that the States are very careful regarding the movement that has been created around my person.  There are analogies with what happened with Obama”.

The Neapolitan daily “Il Mattino” reported on 5 June 2011, that there will be a meeting next week between the Mayor and the American Consul General, Donald Moore.  According to the paper, the Consul stated that “we need to re-launch tourism, discuss the relationship between Naples and the United States, the relationship with the Neapolitan citizens who live in the United States, and the necessary commitment regarding security in light of what has happened very recently”.  The Consul was obviously referring to the violent death of an American tourist who died as a consequence of injuries received when robbers stole his Rolex watch downtown.

The President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, also supports the idea of inviting President Obama. “Il Mattino” reports that discussions have already taken place with the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The objective would appear to be to create and international event or an Italy-USA bilateral meeting in Naples which would allow the city to benefit from major influx of public funds which could serve to bring it up to speed. Commentators are looking at the positive effect that the G7 had on the city in 1994, when President Bill Clinton and other international leaders were hosted by the city.  At that time, during Antonio Bassolino’s first term in office as mayor, the city underwent major refurbishing and restyling, leading many to label the period as a new Neapolitan renaissance.

While discussions proceed on getting Obama to visit the city, Luigi de Magistris is working on nominating his new city government.  His objective is to announce the names of the twelve department heads on 13 June 2011 .  Observers believe that the new government will include many technicians, a high number of women, relatively young persons, and it will be non-ideological. De Magistris will be relatively free from the influence of major political parties because he won defeating the candidates put forward by Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right and Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left.   His most daunting task is to rid the city of tons of garbage before the high heat of the summer leads the disposal problem to become a major sanitary issue.

More photos from SkyTg24 of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris

More photos from “La Repubblica” of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris



Filed under Elections, Garbage crisis, Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples, Political parties

10 responses to “New Mayor invites Obama to Naples

  1. Juliet Rose

    I am starting to like the new mayor of Naples. I’ve read his platform for change and yes, the similarities with President Obama’s platform are a good sign. Having lived in Naples, Italy as a U.S. service member for more than six years, I am hopeful that changes are on the way. My first tour in Naples was from 1987-1990 and during my second assignment, 2007 – 2009, I was astounded that despite the huge influx of $$ (rent and other expenditures)from not only American military, but all the Allied countries as well, that not much had changed. I LOVE Naples and its food, people and rich history and would gladly accept another assignment there — but it is great to see an elected official want to begin to make those desperately needed changes.

  2. Shawn Cohen

    As an American tourist who has been there many times over 30 years, I would definately say that Obama coming or not is not the excuse the Naple’s government need to improve the city! The garbage piling up as it did and still does is a joke to outsiders who can not understand why there is no one to clean it up! The red tape won’t be cleared by Obama,will it?? It is up to the Mayor to clean it up! It is of immense value to those who visit Naples that they feel safe…all cities have their thieves but this one incident was particularly brutal. I saw that the shops closed in respect to the American tourist who died. Very nice that these shopkeepers did this. Napolitani people are sweet, nice, but obviously not all and one must be careful where ever they go. I have lived in London 26 years now and although I don’t have a Rolex, you would not catch me walking around London with a diamond ring on or any other expensive jewelery…this should be common sense to any tourist. (No disrespect to the man who died and his family). But one needs to seriously ask why…why do they need Obama to visit?? Why not do what needs done?? Clean up your own garbage! Modernize the city as best you can without losing its idyllic/historic charm and stop looking for the American Rescue Package!! Italian boys live at home with their parents until they are 30 plus! You want labourers, look there!! They all complain there are no jobs, no money..well…there can be tons of jobs made from this mass clean up and modernizations…you have what you need to get going on this now, Naples!America is drowning in its own problems or haven’t you seen the news lately?? And maybe you also missed it but Obama is not actually dealing very well with all our homeland crisis’ or did you miss that one too??

    • Francesco

      I don’t think the new mayor is actually looking for an “american rescue package”. I guess he’s trying to do something “big” in order to make people “feel” the change in a more concrete way, kind of an encouragement. I do understand your point about doing the best we can to fix the city as soon as possible but it’s not that simple, I hardly believe that suddently we’ll have that kind of change without a strong signal of good will and as I said i think it’s just what De Magistris (the new mayor) is trying to do. Overall you’re right though.

      By the way, it’s true that Obama it’s not dealing very well with your problems but you’re comparing the US President with the mayor of a relatively small city.

      Oh, happy to see that there’s still somebody out there who doesn’t think that all Neapolitans are bad people…

    • Juliet Rose

      Shawn, with most respect to your thoughts…I dont think Italians (Naples) are looking for a “rescue package” from Americans or President Obama. My own take on the positive spin of a visit from the U.S. President would be a reinforcement of our (U.S.) Allied interests in maintaining strong ties with Naples.
      Naples is a principal gateway for the United States military as well as Allied Forces. The Mayor is rightfully beginning his leadership with an invitation to the leader of the country with arguably the most (and visible) military presence in Naples. Call it a Commander- in -Chief “goodwill” visit if you will. In my humble opinion, the issues are unrelated…cleaning up garbage and presidential visit???
      Dare I say that as a “tourist” to Naples , regardless of how many times you may have visited, actually living among the beautiful people of Naples and its surrounding cities, working with them, being invited into their homes and sharing life events with them would never be a measuring stick any tourist could use to make the critical statements you have made regarding their work ethics or what the needs of these people are. I have never been assigned to or lived in London, however, my children attended DoDDs schools in London — so I have visited various locales throughout Great Britain. Does that make me qualified to make sweeping analyses of the blights in London or her people?? No. I think for you to make such blanket generalities regarding Naples, you need to have lived among the people and suffered it with them and see it on a daily basis ….from their perspective.

      Naples is a proud city with hard workers, ethically and morally upright citizens who have been beseiged with some corrupt government officials — the impact on daily life, health, welfare and and environment (garbage issue, education, homelessness etc) has been profound — and tourists will only ever know or see the visible after effects – such as garbage piled without knowing HOW or WHY.
      So, they dont NEED President Obama to visit…anymore than Americans NEED Queen Elizabeth…but in the interest of global diplomacy and supporting our Allies – a visit from the President of the United States is not a rescue package — but the diplomatically correct thing to do.

      • Francesco

        “Naples is a proud city with hard workers, ethically and morally upright citizens who have been beseiged with some corrupt government officials — the impact on daily life, health, welfare and and environment (garbage issue, education, homelessness etc) has been profound — and tourists will only ever know or see the visible after effects – such as garbage piled without knowing HOW or WHY.”

        Totally agree on this, but Mr. Cohen is right on some points, as a citizen of Naples I have to admit that a small amount of people don’t care at all about their city and its problems.

        You know, hearing a person complaining about the garbage crisis, the same person that the day before was saying out loud “who cares about the separate collection of rubbish!” or was throwing out of his car’s windows an old TV or an old mattres on the freeway ( yes, it happens) or watching some dustmen put every kind of rubbish togheter in the garbage truck uncaring if it was plastic, glass etc… after all that this city is suffering because of garbage and thinking that you separated all the rubbish “just for the sake of it” because some idiot acts this way, makes you angry.

        Of course it’s just an example regarding the garbage topic, but this kind of behaviour it’s spread in the whole milieu.

        Again, it’s just about a (relatively) small amount of people, but the problem does exist and needs to be solved and I think that’s just what Mr. Cohen was talking about, he was going against lazyness, selfishness and uncaring attitude, he wasn’t generalizing in my opinion.

  3. Shawn Cohen

    Ok, let me just say..I am a Miss Cohen who happens to have been deeply and emotionally involved with a Napolitano man. That means I have not just been a tourist! I did not think I had to go into my private life to express an opinion! And some of what I shared were from his own words, albeit I translated them from Italian, of which I do speak! I have lived in Florence in 1978, visited many times various other parts of Italy such as Rome, NAPLES, Pisa, Bologna, Montecorice, Luguria, Laverno, Bari, Verona and of lately as of last October Naples and Sorrento. I saw the garbage on the streets for myself and saw the waste, smelled the stink, as my boyfriend and I drove down to Sorrento from Naples…now..can I have an opinion please??? So suffice to say I adore Italy, have lived and worked there both North and South! I am sure President Obama would be great moral for anywhere he visited…but I was more interested in what would truely help Naples. Ciao e grazie.

    • Francesco

      What a poor showing I made, so sorry for the mistake Miss Cohen!!!

      • Shawn Cohen

        Thank you Francesco. 🙂 Just expressing my opinion and we all have one and the Right to have one! That is “Democracy”.

  4. Juliet Rose

    I dont believe anyone needs to justify their private life or personal thoughts (opinions) on any issue …and certainly not with intended sarcasm. My statement was simple and plainly spoken….The perception of a tourist regardless of how many times one visits a location is never going to be the same as someone who lives intimately in, around and with local nationals in a host country. If someone actually lives with an Italian (as opposed to a hotel), and are in country more than two weeks or a month that is hardly classified as a regular tourist as that person has a vested interest in not only the person being visited /living with but the country itself. I stand by my personal opinion that the basic or average tourist’s perception, fleeting images and exterior perceptions of a dirty city, trash strewn or smelly place is a surface opinion. What I AM saying, is that to the average tourist passing through Naples seeing ONLY the trash, mini scooter thugs and the “dark side” of Bella Napoli, their opine is skewed.

    After my home was robbed with a moving truck and all its contents stolen in my first assignment, coming back to Naples for a second tour was not on the top of my list…I was fed up with the dirt, crime, way of living…all of it. And I came back to see mostly the same problems — petty thefts, burglary, robbery, hit and run, hunger, homelessness, over crowded orphanages, dirty streets, and abject poverty. etc etc ….added to that the garbage and larger crimes. I would be THE last person to say that Naples is anything but what it is – My first 3 years I lived in Lago Patria, My last 3 years in Monteruscello — the heart of the garbage wasteland. …and yes, I have been to just about every small town or touristy city to see the differences in health & welfare and quality of life. As a military member driving through trash dumped higher than the roof of my SUV on a daily basis, stepping over dead rats, dogs and other excrement in the streets — loving the aroma of rotting garbage in the summer heat and especially when it rained — I wrote more letters and emails to the U.S. Base Commanding Officer and service organizations than I care to remember for the U.S to take action. But, it was not OUR action to take — we are tenants in a host country. YES, I know what Naples is. I am not saying one has to be “native” to understand the issues or struggles or corruption or life or any aspect of a foreign country….nor am I saying that I have any more superior knowledge of living life or the base cause reasons for anything which happens in Naples. What I am saying is that to the average tourist passing through doing a city a day (or seen from a tour bus) –they will never see or understand the issues and the legalities or politics which are the crux of the degradation of Naples.

    BAck to the reason why a visit from President Obama should not be seen as anything other than a goodwill visit. Naples is not America’s issue to “fix or rescue.” But, as Italy is our Ally and friend – the support of the Commander in Chief of the largest military force in Italy – cant hurt.


  5. Marcello

    I am a Neapolitan leaving in San Francisco for many years. I go to Naples every year to spend my holidays with my family and to see place that once were familiar to me. Naples is a difficult city and to solve its problems is not an easy task. The garbage in Naples is the main problem we have and it seems that no one can solve it. The reason is that the garbage business is in the hand of the Gamorra, an organized crime. To destroy camorra the Mayor of Naples needs the help of the Italian government, the Italian justice and the people of Naples. In order to achieve this objective we need to put in place a good strategy. Firstly, the Italian justice has to give heavy punishment when a member of camorra is arrested in order to set an example by all…and secondly we need the support of the Neapolitan people. You don’t have a free society if you do not combat organize crime. There is a lack of trust in the Italian local authority and in the Government as all and I believe that is the reason the Mayor of Naples is seeking help. with the visit of President Obama, Napoli will be relaunched economically, culturally and internationally.

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