17.2.13

BEPPE GRILLO: IL RAPPORTO USA

UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012 E 4
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INFO AMCONSUL FLORENCE
AMCONSUL MILAN [RELEASED IN FULL)
AMCONSUL NAPLES
UNCLAS ROME 000457
SENSITIVE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON, ET.RD, KCOR, PGOV, IT
SUBJECT: LUNCH WITH ITALIAN ACTIVIST BEPPE GRILLO: "NO HOPE
FOR ITALY;" AN OBSESSION WITH CORRUPTION
REF: ROME 255
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Italian political comedian-turned activist
Beppe Grillo began a recent discussion with EconOffs saying,
"There is no hope for Italy." He believes only a complete
replacement of the Italian political class can resolve
Italy's corruption problems. Grillo is eccentric, yet
appeals to Italy's downtrodden, reliably putting hundreds of
thousands into the piazzas in protest against the established
order. His comments were a striking contrast to those of
Post's other more conventional interlocutors on economics,
politics and particularly, corruption. END SUMMARY.
BACKGROUND
2. (U) Giuseppe "Beppe" Grillo is a politically outspoken
former comedian-activist who has achieved worldwide celebrity
by excoriating Italian politicians in his daily blog, and by
prompting a very well-attended (one hundred fifty thousand
plus by his count) public rally last fall protesting GOI
corruption. The subject of recent ,features in the New Yorker
and other American press, the UK's Observer rated him one of
[REVIEW AUTHORITY: Martin Mclean, Senior Reviewer)
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
the top ten most read bloggers in the world.
3. (SBU) Grillo is blunt, even profane, but. his direct and
often trenchant accusations contrast sharply with the timid
and indirect analyses of corruption offered by others in the
Italian political spectrum. He has galvanized a previously
silent section of public opinion and channeled the Italian
public's outrage at entrenched government corruption and the
political elite's inability to ~rove the country's
condition. In this way, he has created an alternative forum
for discussion on issues that are not being addressed by
mainstream media. Embassy staff recently had the opportunity
to exchange views with Grillo on corruption in Italy and a
wide-range of other subjects during a lunch at ECMIN's
residence.
CORRUPTION
4. (SBU) The somewhat portly, wild-haired 59-year old
Grillo has established himself over the past decade as an
unofficial commentator on Italian corruption, most notably
identifying accounting problems with Italian conglomerate
Parmalat, long before the full details of its financial
irregularities were revealed. According to Grillo, endemic
corruption in Italy's current political class has destroyed
any hope of Italy improving its economic prospects. The only
solution, in his view, is removing virtually all politicians
left and right and replacing them with young people who have
fewer personal ties to the current establishment and who have
less of a vested interest in the status quo.
5. (SBU) Grillo described corruption as standard operating
procedure in current Italian political culture. In his eyes,
powerful politicians on both the right and left aim only to
maintain power. They are too old, out of touch and lack the
vision, ability, and interest to improve conditions in Italy.
According to Grillo, this desire to hold onto power explains
all: the manipulation of administrative procedures, the
collusion between businessmen and politicians, and the
suborning of the mainstream media to obscure illegal acts.
Thus, power brokers never seem to leave office, even when
indicted or convicted. Indeed a favorite theme is his focus
on the 24 (by his count) indicted or convicted
parliamentarians still holding their seats.
GETTING WORSE
6. (SBU) Grillo believes that the corrupt practices of
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
today's politicians have become more sophisticated since
anti-corruption investigations in the early 90s--the
so-called "Clean Hands" or Mani Pulite efforts. A major
change, in his view, is that bribes and kickbacks are now
more blatant and represent a larger share of public
contracts.
7. (SBU) Grillo lamented the ineffectiveness of dedicated
government agencies, citizens groups, and NGOs--including
Transparency International--to combat corruption in Italy.
To him, they are either too small, too local, and/or too
single-issue focused to be able to work with similar
organizations to create an effective anti-corruption front.
Reacting to our observation that the Corte dei Conti's recent
scathing report on corruption (ref) in Italy drew very little
response: Grillo said that the Italian public is in a
"medical coma . "
8. (SBU) In addition to the current waste removal situation
in Naples, Grillo tagged the energy, banking, and health care
sectors as particularly corrupt. He saw each as prone to
some combination of (illegal) non-competitive, cooperation
between corporate entities, falsification of accounts, and/or
awarding positions and contracts based on anything but merit.
SWEEPING SOLUTIONS
9. (SBU) The cornerstone of Grillo's message is that
virtually all Italian politicians and political parties are
illegitimate. Their previous convictions, current
investigations, or blatant conflicts of interest render them
unable and ineligible to govern with legitimacy. Further, he
sees no difference between policy platforms of the center
right and center left. His answer is a boycott of the
electoral system. On his blog he urges Italians not to vote
in the upcoming elections that he considers "illegal" and
"unconstitutional," in the sense that this election is being
held before a widely recognized need for reform of the
Italian electoral law was enacted. His boycott is one of the
reasons (though not a main one) why pollsters predict a low
voter turnout in the upcoming Italian national elections on
April 13-14.
10. (SBU) Grillo is particularly critical of the current
"party list" system. He holds that removing voters'
opportunity to choose individual candidates perpetuates
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
_political business as usual. In what may be the germ of a
future political party, he is allowing independent candidates
in municipal (local) elections to use his name. He is
publicizing these names on his blog. To qualify for his
unofficial support, these individuals must adhere to three
basic principles: 1) they must not have held office before;
2) they must not have criminal records; and 3) they must
agree that, once elected, they will post all transactions and
activities related to their offices clearly on the internet.
THE INTERNET
11. (SBU) Grillo is a great proponent of the internet. His
blog has given him tremendous national and international
exposure. In addition, he sees the internet as a great tool
in promoting transparency in government. During our
discussion, he observed that the internet has helped citizens
to track local government spending and performance. He also
claimed that he builds his following for his public rallies
solely via the internet.
12. (SBU) Grillo claimed that mainstream media and
communication companies consciously have not promoted the
development of the new media, and fear its competition.
Interestingly, he claimed that mainstream political parties
have not yet seen the internet as a tool and hence are not
making a big effort to invest in the infrastructure.
LUDDITE, PROGRESSIVE, OR BOTH?
13. (SBU) In addition to supporting an election boycott,
Grillo opposes the development of nuclear power, construction
of regassification plants, and the building of incinerators
in Italy. These positions are justified by his observation
that any one of these projects would see an enormous loss of
public funds to corruption, the mafia, or both. MOreover,
his opposition to construction of incinerators, something for
which Naples and Campania have urgent need, is grounded in
his well-founded fear that Campania refuse is laced with
industrial contaminants of all sorts, much of it trucked in
from northern Italy. Hence, incinerators, in Grillo's view,
would only serve to inject thousands of tons of dangerous
particulates into the atmosphere.
COMMENT
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012
14. (SBU) Well-info~ed, tech savvy, provocative, yet
entertaining, Grillo is unique, almost a lone voice in
Italian public discourse. His outspoken opposition to the
political status quo has earned him exclusion from standard
media fora. Once an oft-featured television host and
personality, neither public, nor private Italian television
now mention or feature him. In our meeting, he claimed that
various night clubs and business conventions that once hired
him to perfo~ no longer do so out of fear of political
ostracism. Our institutional contacts a~ost instinctively
discount the validity of his message.
15. (SBU) Yet he commands appeal. He reliably put hundreds
of thousands in the piazzas for his trademark "Vaffa . .
Day "--gently translated as "up yours" day. Students, the
less well-off, and those we might see as the
"disenfranchised"--i.e., those ignored or condescended to by
the system--are the core of his fans. Yet those of quite
different social backgrounds--some banker contacts for
example--profess fascination. In another manifestation of
his popular appeal and potential electoral power, civil
courts in Rome recently banned several independent candidates
who had ~roperly incorporated Grillo's name into their
election symbols and slogans. Apparently some candidates
were seeking Beppe Grillo's "seal of approval."
16. (SBU) Same of Grillo's ideas are utopian and
unrealistic. But in spite of his incoherent political
philosophy, his perspective gives voice to a section of
public opinion that does not find expression elsewhere. His
unique blend of confrontational humor, backed up with just
enough statistics and research, make him a credible
extramural interlocutor on the Italian political system. END
COMMENT.
SPOGLI
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UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2009-07041 Doc No. C17586026 Date: 07/03/2012

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1 commento:

  1. La ringrazio per aver pubblicato il documento... ma non conosco l'inglese. ne ricavo comunque il senso dai suoi (vostri) articoli. Grazie per il suo impegno. Mauro Giusto http://www.facebook.com/mauro.giusto.3?ref=tn_tnmn

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