Giulio Andreotti (1919-2013) – understanding italian rites

A little man dies today in Rome at 94. He was something more than a common politician, he was (and is) a key to understand the recent history of my country and more than a bit of what’s happened in Europe and in the Middle East in the ’60 and the ’70.

You may find a good summary of his public history here, but even a good article is not enough to understand the weight of Mr. Andreotti.  If you take a look at the italian pages of Facebook or if you read our newspapers you may feel a mix of emotions, something between relief and disbelief.


It looks like a collective exorcism, a rite of passing between different generations in our country. Mr. Andreotti was on the political scene for more than 60 years, something between a man of power and a state priest of unholiness.

Aart Klein - Cemetery at night

Aart Klein – Cemetery at night

When I think about this man this image pops up in my mind. Mr. Andreotti never killed a man or a woman but was involved or deeply informed about every goddamn italian major crime. We got Mafia, Camorra and N’drangheta, three organized crime cartels that span their influence worldwide. All of them are in a criminal partnership with the local and national government, give-and-take ploys that undermine the very essence of our nation.

Does Mr. Andreotti knows about them? Yes. Does he got any kind of advantages from them? Yes. Does he benefits from their crimes? Indirectly, yes.


From 1969 to 1985 we got a period of terrorism, we call these the “lead years” from the lead in the bullets. We got bomb in trains and railway stations, people killed in the streets, kidnappings, armed robberies… name a crime, we’ve had it more than once. What’s peculiar of our situation was the involvement of our secret services, of some of our worst statesman.

In those years Italy got a strange role. We always were in the NATO, right? We collaborate with our allies, we do whatever it takes to be a part in the fight, don’t we? It’s quite difficult for me to say a loud “yes”. We were involved with dictators like Mr. Gheddafi in Libya, with Mr. Arafat of PLO, we export weapons and ammo in a looong list of countries under UN ban (South Africa,Lebanon, Syria, the aforementioned Libya and so on).

Yes, you guessed it right. Mr. Andreotti knows about that.

Was he evil incarnate? A demon disguised as a little man? No on both counts. He was a man of power, a man with the self-appointed mission of being at the helm of my country. He wasn’t alone on the bad side. Plenty of people, from his minions to a variety of parasites, were at his side for decades.

His death is a symbol. He was nothing but an old man, curved by his illness and lost inside too many memories in his mind. A good metaphor of Italy.


7 thoughts on “Giulio Andreotti (1919-2013) – understanding italian rites

  1. He was not a powerful man, he was a power’s man an éminence grise, like you pointed out. He was wickedly married with power; a scary thing.
    And the questions “Was he evil incarnate? A demon disguised as a little man?” could seem exaggerations to someone that doesn’t know our country’s history, but leaving out supernatural considerations, it’s not so obvious to decisively answer “No”, at least if you consider power as something capable to corrupt a man.

    Speaking with modern terms, “in the game of thrones you win or you die”.
    We don’t have thrones anymore in Italy, but you can easily say “in the game of power you win or you die”, the meaning is the same. He often (always?) was the one who used to win. Until now, at least: he was mortal too, after all.

    Some days ago I’ve seen again the movie “Il Divo”, and even this time I’ve had a sense of mixed helplessness, scare and loathing.

    • Mr. Andreotti was an overwhelming presence, a kind of dark spirit of italian history. His death is a sort of reality check, a simbolic end of an era. He wasn’t always the winner, he never reached the presidency of our country nor the top chair in his party, but his left hand never knows what the right one do and both of them were always in the dark.
      I’m not supersticious but I will be surprised if any kind of dark legacy failed to surface in the next few weeks.

      • Yes, he never achieved the President of Republic seat or the “official” lead of Democrazia Cristiana, but nonetheless he had the true power in his hands, he often was the one who called the shots. He surely wanted to achieve those goals, but in a pragmatical point of view, maybe for him they were more a prestigious prize than other.

      • “The one who called the shots”, right? Yes, in more than a way for what we all know about his ties with criminal cartels. For sure Mr. Andreotti got a lot of power in his own hands for decades but I don’t figure him as the only man in control. Inside the DC party there were a lot of power players, all of them well connected with the Holy See and the pivot figures in the business.

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