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Southern Italians press author Pino Aprile to lead political action

by Anthony M. Quattrone

The Party of the South and 20 other southern Italian political and cultural organizations held a meeting in Bari on 6 September 2012 with Pino Aprile, author of the best seller “Terroni”, to seek his agreement to become the political leader of a wider southern Italian political movement aiming at electing to the Italian Parliament during the elections in 2013, a team of dedicated southern deputies truly committed to the redemption and revival of the Italian South.

There are already many southern Italian deputies elected to the Chamber of Deputies, but, according to Enzo Riccio, member of the executive board of the Party of the South, “none truly represent southern Italians because their parties are tightly linked to the economic and political interests of northern Italian financial and industrial groups”.  According to Riccio, “the South has been in a position of subordination to the north since the brutal conquest of 1860-61, when the Piedmontese occupation army subjugated and annexed the peaceful, independent and sovereign state of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies”.

Antonio Ciano, founder and honorary president of the Party of the South

Southern Italian political and cultural movements complain that during the past 151 years the unified Italian state, which went from a monarchy under the House of Savoy to a democratic Republic after World War II, has fundamentally treated the South as a colonial possession, stripping it of its industry, banks and population.  According to revisionist historians, the vast majority of Italian immigrants throughout the world come from southern Italy because their homeland was brought to misery by the new Italian unified state, which they allege favored northern interests.

The Mayor of Bari, Michele Emiliano, speaks with attendees outside City Hall before the meeting

The meeting in Bari was hosted by the city’s popular mayor, Michele Emiliano, who is a member of the Italian Democratic Party (center left) and is a staunch supporter of the rights of the Italian South.  Last year, in another meeting with Pino Aprile, the mayor opened the event having a band play the national anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, openly marking his understanding of subjugation of the southern homeland.

The hundreds of participants who filled City Hall were unable to sway Pino Aprile into becoming the leader of the wider southern Italian movement, but they were rewarded for their efforts when they heard him announce that he will play a major role by becoming the editor-in-chief of a new southern Italian daily which is in the making.

Stefano Lo Passo and Luca Antonio Pepe of the “Together for the Rebirth (of the South)” movement

Antonio Ciano, founder of the Party of the South, was particularly forceful in reminding the audience that the battle for the redemption and the revival of the South is uphill against the “strong powers” of the North.  Author Lino Patruno was particularly moved by the presence of many youngsters in the crowd.  Two young representatives of “Insieme per la Rinascita” (“Together for the Rebirth of the South), Luca Antonio Pepe and Stefano Lo Passo appealed to the need for linking the battle for the revival of the South with a strong struggle against all forms of organized crime.

According to Marco Esposito, a member of the Naples City Government and major organizer of the meeting in Bari, the creation of an independent southern Italian newspaper headed by Aprile will provide a major loudspeaker and standard-bearer for southern interests, facilitating the development of a strong and well established southern Italian political movement.

Pino Aprile in Bari

The comments on social networks after the meeting with Pino Aprile ranged from rank-and-file disappointment that the Pino Aprile would not take up a specifically political role, to a more pragmatic approach which acknowledges that, after all, the meeting has led to Pino Aprile’s announcement that the South will finally have an independent paper not linked to any northern financial or industrial group.

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America’s Cup World Series in Naples – final countdown

Course map -- photo by ACEA
Click on photo for full size map.

Anthony M. Quattrone

Events are scheduled to take place from 11 through 15 April 2012

Naples is almost ready for the World Series of the America’s Cup. The water front road, Via Caracciolo, which is closed to traffic, is hosting the Village where the different sailing teams will be setting their headquarters. The whole downtown area is undergoing major traffic rerouting and the City is attempting to make last minutes repairs to pot holes and general asphalt maintenance.

The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, appears to be quite satisfied with the general reaction of the population to the many restrictions imposed on traffic, but he and his team remain open to suggestions from different stakeholders who lament that certain policies have gone a little too far, causing a downturn in income for restaurants, pubs, and bars, especially during the evening hours.

Mayor de Magistris is experiencing a surge in popularity with almost 70 percent of the population approving his performance, making him the best-liked mayor in all of Italy. His sternness with respect to law and order coupled with his attention to the weaker segments of the population has allowed him to implement dramatic changes in everyday life of most Neapolitans, especially in the area of downtown living conditions.

The Mayor has decided that Via Caracciolo will remain closed to traffic also after the end of the World Series. His intention is to transform the waterfront into an area where citizens can enjoy a peaceful walk without any concern for vehicles, noise and bust from traffic.

The extension of the breakwaters in front of Via Caracciolo is well under way. The new breakwaters infrastructure is required to allow the AC World Series teams to safely launch and hoist the AC45 catamarans from flat water behind the protective barrier during the training and actual competition which will start on 11 April 2012.

Mayor de Magistris stated that “The city is getting ready to host the event in the best possible way. There is much enthusiasm and the desire to participate is palpable. I am sure that this event there is not going to be only a sporting event, but it will also be a flywheel for real development, from tourism to employment. The AC World Series will provide great visibility to the already exceptional setting of the waterfront of via Caracciolo. This event will allow us all to fully enjoy the beauty of the sea, of the beach and of the landscape of our city”.

The clock is ticking to the final countdown. Go Naples!

Click for more information from the AC World Series web site

Click for the schedule of events

Read also “Where it happens” published by the America’s Cup World Series staff

Information on Naples and what to visit

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Scrambling for the America’s Cup

Anthony M. Quattrone

Plymouth (UK) 14/09/2011 - - 34th America's Cup - AC World Series - Plymouth 2011 - Naples venue announcement - Paolo Graziano, President Industrial Union; Gennaro Ferrara, Vicepresident of Naples Province; Stefano Caldoro, President of Region Campania; Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples; Richard Worth, President ACEA; Tommaso Sodano, Vicemayor Naples; Riccardo Marone-President of Bagnolifutura. Photo: © ©2011 ACEA/Ricardo Pinto

One of the primary objectives of the municipal government led by the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, has been to bring to Naples some major international events which may act as a catalyst for urban renewal and may provide an economic boost for the tourism industry. Three international events that are scheduled to take place during the next three years may help the Mayor meet his objective. The World Urban Forum, a high-level United Nations conference on cities, will take place in September 2012. The event, which will focus on sustainable urban development, rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies, is expected to draw some 20,000 attendees, including world leaders, statesmen, businessmen and academics.

The Universal Forum of Cultures, which was set by the previous Mayor of Naples, Rosa Russo Iervolino, will take place from 21 April through 10 July 2013. Last month, Mayor de Magistris changed the leadership of the committee responsible for organizing the event, by replacing Nicola Oddati, a member of the Democratic Party and a former alderman for culture of the previous city government, with Roberto Vecchioni, a nationally-known singer and song writer of Neapolitan origins. The forum, which is sponsored by UNESCO, seeks to bring together citizens from a varied range of cultures, languages, and religions to promote inter-cultural dialogue and to encourage global civil society empowerment.

Naples will be hosting two races of the America’s Cup World Series in April 2012 and May 2013. Mayor de Magistris, together with Luigi Cesaro, President of the Province of Naples, Stefano Caldoro, Governor of the Campania Region, and with Paolo Graziano, president of the Naples Association of the Industry Leaders, and chairman of the America’s Cup Napoli (CAN), confirmed on 14 September 2011 that an agreement had been reached with America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), which is responsible for the commercial side of the 34th America’s Cup, to hold the event in Naples. Read the whole article

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Garbage crisis: landfills are almost full

The environmental health councilor for the city of Naples, Paolo Giacomelli, is concerned that there is no clear indication from Regional and Provincial officials where Naples should be dumping garbage as of Tuesday, 18 January 2011.  According to Giacomelli, Naples will continue dumping garbage in the landfills located in Chiaiano, Santa Maria Capua Vetere and Caivano with certainty only until the evening of 17 January 2011.  Giacomelli is also concerned that the dump in Chiaiano is almost at maximum capacity and that it has been necessary to slowdown the unloading of compactor trucks.  Giacomelli told “Il Mattino” that if no instructions arrive regarding where to send the collected garbage, “piles of garbage might reappear in the city of Naples”.  The landfill in Chiaiano will be full by March when it is expected to be closed.

According to the financial daily “Il Sole 24 Ore”, the European Commission’s Environment Directorate is investigating the garbage emergency in Naples.  The newspaper reports that the EU has contracted a French company from Paris, the Bio Intelligence Service, to conduct a study titled “Implementing EU waste legislation for Green Growth”.  According to the financial daily, the objective of the EU is ”to attempt to analyze under a microscope and with a cool mind the folly regarding the Neapolitan garbage crisis”.

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Skyrockets and burning garbage

Anthony M. Quattrone

Fire spreads from garbage to a car during New Year's celebration in Naples. Photo from "Il Mattino" (http://www.ilmattino.it/articolo.php?id=132772&sez=NAPOLI 1 Jan 2011).

Neapolitans celebrated the arrival of the new year by chaotically and haphazardly exploding thousands of skyrockets and other fireworks. Like every year, during the time frame from midnight to about two hours later, Naples was an undeclared “off-limits” area for pedestrians and cars alike. During this time, the chances of being hit by skyrockets or by stray bullets is considered critically high. This year, the piles of uncollected garbage, spread throughout most of the city and the suburbs, became a tempting target for occasional arsonists. By dawn of the first day of the year, the authorities reported that the “midnight battle” had claimed one death and seventy injured. A 39-year old died from wounds caused by a stray bullet in Crispano, a town in the province of Naples. A 29-year old tourist was hit by a stray bullet in his face, but he miraculously survived the injury, expelling the bullet stuck in his nose with a sneeze. A boiler exploded in Volla, a in the province of Naples, destroying a building and injuring two persons. Many others suffered severe burns, lost limbs or lost an eye.

Authorities had enrolled the support of soccer players, musicians, and actors, to plead the citizenry to not explode illegal fireworks. Firemen spent part of the evening of the 31 December watering down the piles of garbage in downtown Naples hoping to reduce the chances that stray rockets would dangerously ignite the waste. In spite of the preventive work done by the fire department and the continuous appeals by the authorities, garbage caught fire in many parts of the city. The burning garbage set off fires that spread to parked cars and, in a couple of cases, also to buildings.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised during the past several months, on several occasions, to rid Naples of garbage, but he failed to keep his promises. The last time, immediately after Christmas, he had promised that Naples would have been clean by New Year’s eve. By midnight some parts of the city and the suburbs were clean, thanks to the praiseworthy work performed by the Italian Army, who had been deployed to collect thousands of tons of garbage in the downtown area and in the suburbs. Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino, publicly thanked the Army for their work, noting that only through the cooperation of all institutions, from local to national, it is possible for Naples to climb out of the garbage crisis.

According to councilman Giovanni Romano, who is responsible for Regional environmental services, “the waste collection plants have worked well during the night and by now the city should be rid of garbage.” Garbage collection started up immediately after the midnight celebrations and the waste plants and dumping grounds have been open since 3 A.M. Romano speculates that Naples and suburbs should be clean within the next ten to twelve days. Time will tell if Romano’s assessment is correct. In the meantime, the burning garbage is still smoking in many parts of the city.

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Naples City Council sets bad example

Anthony M. Quattrone

During the past four years, the Naples City Council was scheduled to hold 135 sessions, but, 36 meetings had to be called off because there were not enough council members present for the session to be considered legal.  The Council was elected in May 2006, when the center left coalition headed by outgoing mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, won the elections reconfirming her for another five years, until April of 2011, when her mandate will expire.

On 21 September 2010, the president of the City Council, Leonardo Impegno, who is member of the center-left Democratic Party, had to make use of a loophole in city regulations, to allow the Council to stay operational.  The rule allows the president to reconvene a new meeting when the first one does not reach the minimum number of council members present, allowing the Council to deliberate even with the presence of 20% of the council members.  The Naples City Council is composed of 61 members—the loophole would allow a session to be considered valid with only 12 members, thus allowing a minority to deliberate on behalf of the Council.

The inefficiency of the Naples City Council has been exacerbated also by the constant but inexorable balkanization into splinter groups of the coalitions of center-right and center-left.  The Council now has 17 different political groups, with each group leader entitled to administrative and logistical support from and paid by City Hall.  According to Impegno, the City gives each group leader a mobile phone, commercial lines, three admin assistants, and office space, at no cost.  Additionally, 135 thousand euro are divided in 17 parts for each group leader, and another 135 thousand euro are divided proportionally based on the number of council members belonging to each of the 17 groups.  The work of the City Council is quite inefficient also because the president is required to meet with group leaders to formulate the agenda of the items and issues to be discussed by the Council.

The meeting scheduled on 28 and 29 September 2010 will probably see a full house, because the budget will be discussed.  In this case, should the Council not meet the necessary quorum to make the meeting legal, that is, 50%, the minister of the Interior will automatically disband the Council.  In this case, the city government would be assigned to a commissioner reporting directly to the national government, and all of the elected officials would be sent home.  Observers are of the opinion that the City Council Members will probably make sure that the minimum quorum will be met in the budget meeting in order to not lose the remuneration and fringe benefits that are currently receiving.

The judgment of the Neapolitan press is particularly severe regarding the behaviour of the City Council members because Naples needs leadership and proper decision making in tackling the many emergencies facing the city.  The bad example set by many of the members of the City Council is disheartening.

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Italian minister defines Naples and the south as a cancer

Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation

Anthony M. Quattrone

The debate is continuing in Naples regarding the statements made by Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration and Innovation, in an interview published by “Il Giornale” on 11 September 2010.  Brunetta stated that “if we did not have Calabria and the general metropolitan area of Naples-Caserta, or, better, if these areas had the same standards as the rest of the Nation, Italy would be the first in Europe.  The Naples-Caserta area is a social and cultural cancer.  It is an ethical cancer, where the State is not present, where there is no politics, where there is no society”.

There were many reactions to Brunetta’s statements from the Neapolitan intelligentsia.  Dozens of articles have appeared in the press and a very lively debate has taken place on the Internet, with hundreds of comments on Facebook and in the local blogs.

The bishop emeritus of Acerra, a town 20 kilometers northeast of Naples, Antonio Riboldi, stated that “Brunetta should be less reckless when expressing his opinions.  Blustering is not needed — it is necessary to know what one is talking about.  He needs to be more balanced when expressing his views.  Poverty in the South is not the fault of the people of the South, but it is due to the lack of investments, the lack of employment.”

Stefano Caldoro, president of the Campania Region and a member of  Brunetta’s political party, reacted to the minister’s comments stating that “he is wrong when he speaks only of the disease, without indicating the therapy to cure it. Campania and the south are ready to rise again, but they seek a type of federalism without tricks”.   According to Caldoro, “Brunetta, as a professor and economist, has formulated a correct diagnosis, which takes into consideration a set of irrefutable economic data.  In his role as minister, however, he makes a mistake because it is the responsibility of leaders to provide solutions to the problem.  Otherwise, his analysis is insufficient and dangerous, because it lends itself to support the belief that nothing can be done to change the status quo.”

Umberto Ranieri, member of the Democratic Party and a potential candidate for mayor of Naples in the elections that will take place next spring, is critical of Brunetta’s style, but, with respect to the content, he appeared to accept the criticism, stating that the “leadership of the south should perform self-criticism.”  In the past, leftist commentators, such as Giorgio Bocca, and politicians, such as Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party, had also expressed concerns regarding the ethics of the southern leadership.

The representatives of various Southern movements have also reacted to Brunetta’s statements. Read the whole article

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