Anthony M. Quattrone
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.