Aldo Moro

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Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro

In office
4 December 1963 – 24 June 1968
23 November 197429 July 1976
Preceded by Giovanni Leone
Mariano Rumor
Succeeded by Giovanni Leone
Giulio Andreotti

Born September 23, 1916
Maglie, Italy
Died May 9, 1978
Rome, Italy
Political party Christian Democracy

Aldo Moro (September 23, 1916May 9, 1978) was an Italian politician and five time Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968 and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years.

One of the most important leaders of Democrazia Cristiana (DC, English: Christian Democracy), Moro was considered an intellectual and an incredibly patient mediator, especially in the internal life of his party. He was kidnapped by the Red Brigades (BR) on March 16, 1978, the day the historic compromise with the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which had embraced eurocommunism with Enrico Berlinguer, was supposed to be enacted, ensuring the PCI's return to government for the first time since May 1947. Aldo Moro's corpse was discovered on May 9, in via Caetani in Rome, in a site equidistant between the DC and the PCI headquarters.

Contents

[edit] Early career

Moro was born in Maglie, in the province of Lecce (Puglia). His political career had started during the late times of fascism, in the G.U.F. university groups. He joined and in 1941 became president of the FUCI (Federation of Catholic University Students). After World War II, Moro was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946, and helped drafting the Italian constitution. He was then re-elected as a member of the house of representatives in 1948, where he served as a member until his violent death.

[edit] Historic compromise

During the 1970s, he was one of the political leaders who gave the deepest attention to Enrico Berlinguer's project of a so-called Compromesso Storico (historic compromise). The leader of PCI (Italian Communist Party, which had obtained 34.4% of the vote in the June 1976 general election) had proposed a solidarity between Communists and Christian Democrats in a moment of serious economical, social and political crisis in Italy, and Moro, then the president of DC, was one of those who had helped in finding a way to finally form a government of "national solidarity".

As leader of the parliamentary coalition he served as Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968, and again from 1974 to 1976.

[edit] Kidnapping and death

Moro, photographed during his kidnapping by the BR
Moro, photographed during his kidnapping by the BR

[edit] Kidnapped, March 16, 1978

On March 16, 1978, on the day that the new DC-PCI government was going to be sworn in before parliament, Moro was kidnapped in Via Fani, a street in Rome, by a militant Communist group, known as the Red Brigades and led by Mario Moretti, after the murder of his 5 escort agents. At that time, all of the founding members of the Red Brigades were jailed, and the group that kidnapped Moro is thus known as the "Second Red Brigades." On the following days, trade unions called for a general strike, while security forces made hundreds of raids in Rome, Milan, Turin and other cities searching for Moro's whereabouts. Held during two months, he was allowed to send letters to his family and politicians. The government refused to negotiate, despite demands by family, friends and Pope Paul VI. [1] In fact, Paul VI "offered himself in exchange … for Aldo Moro …"[2] After 55 days of detention, Moro was murdered in or near Rome on May 9. His body was found later that day in a parked car, left between the headquarters of the DC and the PCI, with a clear symbolism.

Moro was kidnapped on his way to a session of the house of representatives, where a discussion was supposed to take place regarding the vote of confidence to a new government led by Giulio Andreotti (DC), for the first time with the support of the Communist Party. It was the first implementation of Moro's strategic vision defined by the Compromesso storico (historical compromise).

[edit] Negotiations

The Red Brigades (BR) proposed to exchange Moro's life for the freedom of several imprisoned terrorists. During the detention, it has been conjectured that many knew where he was detained (an apartment in Rome). When Moro was abducted, the government immediately took a hardline position: the "State must not bend" on terrorist requests. This was a much different position than the one kept in the kidnapping of Ciro Cirillo, a minor political figure for which the government negotiated with terrorists. It has been suggested that some politicians, especially the Christian-Democrat Giulio Andreotti, took the chance of getting rid of a political competitor by letting the terrorists murder him.

Romano Prodi, Mario Baldassarri [3] and Alberto Clò, of the faculty of the University of Bologna passed on a tip about a safe-house where the BR might have been holding Moro on April 2. Bizarrely, Prodi claimed he had been given the tip by the founders of the Christian Democratic Party, contacted from beyond the grave via a seance and a Ouija board, which gave the names of Viterbo, Bolsena and Gradoli.

Following the Abbé Pierre's death in January 2007, Italian magistrate Carlo Mastelloni declared to the Corriere della Sera that the Abbé had went during Aldo Moro's abduction to the DC's headquarters on piazza del Gesù (Jesus Place) in an attempt to speak with its secretary Benigno Zaccagnini, in favor of a "hard line" of refusal of negotiations along with the BR [4].

[edit] Aldo Moro's captivity letters

During this period, Moro wrote several letters to the principal leaders of DC and to Pope Paul VI (who later personally celebrated his solemn Funeral Mass). Those letters, at times very critical of Giulio Andreotti (DC), were kept secret for decades, and published only in the early 1990s. In his letters, Moro advocated that the state's primary objective should be of saving people's lives, and that the government should strive to comply with his kidnappers' requests. Most of the leaders of the Christian Democrats argued that the letters did not express truthfully Moro's intentions, having been written under coercion by his kidnappers, and refused to attempt any negotiation, in stark contrast with Moro's family's requests. In his appeal to the terrorists, Pope Paul VI asked them to release Moro "without conditions".

It has been conjectured that Moro used these letters to send cryptic messages to his family and colleagues. Doubts have been advanced about the completeness of these letters; Carabinieri general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa (later killed by the Mafia) found copies of the letters in a house that terrorists had in Milan, and for some reason this retrieval was not publicly known until many years later.

[edit] Via Caetani, equidistant between DC and PCI

When the Red Brigades decided to execute Moro, they placed him in a car and told him to cover himself with a blanket, that they were going to transport him to another location. After Moro was covered, they emptied ten rounds into him, killing him: the killer was Mario Moretti. Moro's body was left in the trunk of a car in Via Caetani, a site equidistant between the Christian Democratic Party and the Communist Party headquarters, as a last symbolic challenge to the police, who were keeping the entire nation, and Rome in particular, under strict and severe surveillance. After the recovery of Moro's body, the Minister of the Interior Francesco Cossiga resigned, gaining trust from the Communist party, which would later make him the first President of the Republic to be elected at the first ballot.

[edit] Mino Pecorelli's May 1978 article

Investigative journalist Mino Pecorelli thought that Aldo Moro's kidnapping had been organised by a "lucid superpower" and was inspired by the "logic of Yalta". He painted the figure of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa as "general Amen," explaining in his review, the Osservatorio politico, in an article titled "Vergogna, buffoni!", that it was him that, during Aldo Moro's kidnap, had informed Interior Minister Francesco Cossiga of the localization of the cave where Moro was detained. But he would have been ordered not to act on his information, because of the opposition of a "lodge of the Christ in Paradise." The allusion to Propaganda Due masonesque lodge was clear. Pecorelli then wrote that Dalla Chiesa was in danger and would be assassinated (Dalla Chiesa was murdered four years later). After Aldo Moro's assassination, Mino Pecorelli published some confidential documents, mainly Moro's letters to his family. In a cryptic article published in May 1978, wrote The Guardian in May 2003, Pecorelli drew a connection between Gladio, NATO's stay-behind anti-communist organisation (which existence was publicly acknowledged by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in October 1990) and Moro's death. During his interrogation, Aldo Moro had referred to "NATO's anti-guerrilla activities." [5] Mino Pecorelli, who was on Licio Gelli's list of P2 members discovered in 1980, was assassinated on March 20, 1979. The ammunitions used for Pecorelli's assassination, a very rare type, where the same as discovered in the Banda della Magliana 's weapons stock hidden in the Health Minister's basement. Pecorelli's assassination has been thought to be directly related to Giulio Andreotti, who was condemned to 20 years of prison for it in 2002 before having the sentence cancelled by the Supreme Court of Cassation in 2003.

[edit] Antonio Negri's 1979 arrest and dropping of charges

On April 7, 1979, Marxist philosopher Antonio Negri was arrested along with the others leaders of Autonomia Operaia, (Oreste Scalzone, E. Vesce, A. Del Re, L. Ferrari Bravo, Franco Piperno and others). Attorney Pietro Calogero (close to the PCI) accused the Autonomia group of being the mastermind behind left-wing "terrorism" in Italy. Negri was charged with a number of offences including leadership of the Red Brigades, masterminding the 1978 kidnapping and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and plotting to overthrow the government. A year later, he was found innocent of Aldo Moro's assassination. Almost all of the charges were dropped within months of his arrest due to lack of evidence.

In the New York Review of Books, Thomas Sheehan wrote at the time in Negri's defense, "Negri is a figure of some stature in Italy, and his arrest might be compared, imperfectly, to jailing Herbert Marcuse a decade ago on suspicion of being the brains behind the Weathermen."

In the same journal in 2003, Alexander Stille accused Negri of bearing moral but not legal responsibility for the crimes, citing Negri's words from one year later:

Every action of destruction and sabotage seems to me a manifestation of class solidarity.... Nor does the pain of my adversary affect me: proletarian justice has the productive force of self-affirmation and the faculty of logical conviction.

and

The antagonistic process tends toward hegemony, toward the destruction and the annihilation of the adversary.... The adversary must be destroyed.[6]

[edit] Conspiracy theories about Moro's death

Many other theories have been advanced about Moro's death. Some suggested that Moro's murder could have been orchestrated by the Italian Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due (also known as P2), and that the Red Brigades (BR), which was claimed to have had an inside "supergang" team, and been infiltrated by US intelligence (CIA). The alleged presence of two motorcycle riders in the kidnapping has been proposed to explain the rapidity and cleanliness of the act, in which the kidnappers, as well as Moro, remained untouched while all the escorts were killed: but it has never been confirmed.

The "Gladio network", directed by NATO, has also been accused. In BR member Alberto Franceschini's book, [7] Aldo Moro is described as one of Gladio's founders. There is some support for this view of American involvement in the overarching events known as the strategy of tension, and the strong American policy against a historic compromise that would admit the PCI into a government of national unity, as this might have meant that Italy would have withdrawn from NATO and that the U.S. would have lost access to vital Mediterranean ports. Another theory is that P2 members in the secret services sabotaged the investigation or intentionally failed to uncover the location where Moro was being held, in order to ensure his eventual death at the hands of the BR. If Gladio's influence on Italy's strategy of tension has been proven (see the Bologna massacre as one example), no concrete proof have been found of Gladio's interference with Moro's kidnapping. However, Moro's widow later recounted his meeting with US President Nixon's advisor, Henry Kissinger, and an unidentified American intelligence official, who warned him to pursue the strategy of bringing the Communist Party into his cabinet, telling him "You must abandon your policy of bringing all the political forces in your country into direct collaboration...or you will pay dearly for it." Moro was allegedly so shaken by the threat that he became ill and threatened to quit politics.[8]Historian Sergio Flamigni [9] believes Moretti was used by Gladio in Italy to take over the Red Brigades and pursue a strategy of tension.

[edit] References

  1. ^ 1978: Aldo Moro snatched at gunpoint, "On This Day", BBC (English)
  2. ^ Holmes, J. Derek, and Bernard W. Bickers. A Short History of the Catholic Church. London: Burns and Oates, 1983. 291.
  3. ^ June 17, 1998 hearing of the Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabili delle stragi directed by senator Giovanni Pellegrino (Italian)
  4. ^ «Quel giorno in Tribunale con lui Difese i terroristi rossi e l' Hyperion», Corriere della Sera, January 23, 2007 (Italian)
  5. ^ Moro's ghost haunts political life, Philip Willan in The Guardian, May 9, 2003
  6. ^ http://waam.net/jhjournal/view_article.php?a_no=124&p_no=1
  7. ^ Giovanni Fasanella and Alberto Franceschini (with a postscript from Judge Rosario Priore, who investigated on Aldo Moro's death), Che cosa sono le Red Brigades ("Red Brigades"), Published in French as Brigades rouges : L'histoire secrète des BR racontée par leur fondateur, Alberto Franceschini. Entretien avec Giovanni Fasanella. Editions Panama, 2005, ISBN 2755700203.
  8. ^ Arthur E. Rowse, "Gladio: The Secret US War to Subvert Italian Democracy," Covert Action Quarterly, Washington, DC, Number 49, Summer 1994.
  9. ^ http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Flamigni

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Fictions

  • The kidnapping is dramatized in the 2003 Italian movie Buongiorno, notte (dir. Marco Bellocchio), released 2005 in USA as "Good Morning, Night".
  • Aldo Moro's kidnapping is the subject of the 2003 film Piazza Delle Cinque Lune a.k.a. Five Moons Square (dir. Renzo Martinelli) starring Donald Sutherland.
  • The 1991 movie Year of the Gun (dir. John Frankenheimer) shows the (partly fictional) events leading up to the kidnapping.

[edit] Members of the Parliamentary Commission on Aldo Moro's assassination

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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Preceded by
Michele De Pietro
Italian Minister of Justice
1955–1957
Succeeded by
Guido Gonella
Preceded by
Paolo Rossi
Italian Minister of Public Instruction
1957–1959
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Medici
Preceded by
Giovanni Leone
Prime Minister of Italy
1963–1968
Succeeded by
Giovanni Leone
Preceded by
Giuseppe Saragat
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1964–1965
Succeeded by
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by
Amintore Fanfani
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1965–1966
Succeeded by
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by
Pietro Nenni
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1969–1972
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Medici
Preceded by
Giuseppe Medici
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1973–1974
Succeeded by
Mariano Rumor
Preceded by
Mariano Rumor
Prime Minister of Italy
1974–1976
Succeeded by
Giulio Andreotti
Preceded by
Luigi Gui
Italian Minister of the Interior
1976
Succeeded by
Francesco Cossiga
Preceded by
Amintore Fanfani
Secretary of the Italian Christian Democracy
1959-1964
Succeeded by
Mariano Rumor