zondag 26 juni 2011

Napoli - City of the Damned (BBC )

When thinking of devastated cities in the Second World War, Naples is often forgotten, but when it was liberated by the Allies it was on its last legs, with 200,000 homeless and no power, transport, food or running water. The Allies quickly brought food to the starving population and medicine to the sick, but the introduction of many troops and lots of supplies led to the creation of a huge black market involving almost the entire population. One third of women became prostitutes as Naples became a kind of Sodom and Gomorrah, a city of vice, crime and chaos where everything that could be sold and stolen was sold and stolen.

Perplexingly, the Americans decided to introduce Italo-American criminals into positions of power in southern Italy, such as Vito Genovese, a gangster escaping a murder rap in New York. Genovese began setting up a crime empire in Naples - after Mussolini had effectively suppressed organised crime in Italy, the Allies brought it back. When World War II ended, alarmed and surprised by Soviet support for the Italian communist parties, the Allies responded with their own propaganda. Combined with the Marshall Plan, this became a massive covert effort by the Americans to swing the elections towards the parties of the right. The Catholic Church helped them, with priests telling congregations that they would go to hell if they didn't vote Christian Democrat.

After great political and ideological struggle in which the Cold War was waged by proxy for the first time, the 1948 elections were won by the Christian Democrats, a result that may not have been truly fair. The CIA were pleased with the result and partially credited it to their own operations. They recommended that the US should continue with the covert manipulation of political outcomes in foreign lands. However the city of Naples was now left with a government who was beholden to organised crime, and has seen in the last 60 years a city descend from one of great beauty to one of stasis, pollution, urban poverty and ugliness


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