Sic Transit Gloria Italiae
New scandals have hit Italy.
I have to admit, it took me a while to choose which one to pick. Eventually, I went for the somewhat obvious, although even the following story carries with it something which is peculiarly ‘weird-italian’.
Italian politicians cannot do without sexual promiscuity, it seems. A couple of years ago, Sircana, the aid of Romano Prodi, the earlier Italian PM, was found hanging around prostitutes. Before him, Cosimo Mele, a member of the Catholic Party (God bless them), was charged with “drug-pushing” with a prostitute. Protected by God’s will, Mele rejected charges of being less than a good catholic. Needless to say, the actual Italian PM has lived up to these standards and, of course, pushed them further. He also defended his moral status against the charges of ‘imperfect morality’.
The last man on the list is Piero Marrazzo, the President of Lazio, one of Italy’s regions. He’s been hanging around prostitutes as well. Before getting into the details, let’s highlight one main difference between his case and the previous three: after the scandal became public, Marrazzo has resigned.
Italians know Piero Marrazzo for being the conductor of a famous Tv programme called “Mi manda Rai 3”. There he was the charming and aggressive defender of people’s rights against the greed of institutions which his program sought to bring to light. Here’s the man:
Then he entered politics with the Left, and became the President of Lazio. As an effect of this, his skin turned slightly more orange:
On last July, Marrazo was caught in a ‘mercenary intercourse’ by four members of Carabinieri , a branch of Italy armed forces. That is to say, guys who are there to protect civilians. However, these Carabinieri were less interested in protecting civilians and more in extorting money from them.
The guys’ names are Luciano Simeone, Carlo Tagliente, Antonio Tamburrino e Nicola Testini.
They broke into the apartment of Brenda, a transsexual prostitute, where Marrazzo was carrying out the mercenary ordeal: they filmed what was going on, and started threatening Marrazzo with the dire consequences waiting for him, unless he paid. And pay he did: three 20000Euro checks have been signed by the Lazio President to silence the Fab 4, and protect his career.
Unfortunately, greed is a green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on, said Shakespeare. Hence the scandal became public nevertheless. In the last days, Marrazzo had to account for his behaviour on tv, and finally confessed that ‘his weaknesses’ had come out. He eventually resigned today, thus leaving Italy’s Left, where possible, in an increased state of confusion. It has also emerged that Marrazzo is to retire in a monastery to recover from the stress.
Investigators say Marrazzo has been the victim of blackmail, hence he is the plaintiff in the charge against the Fab 4 Carabinieri. This seems fair. He will not be charged for going to meet his prostitutes using the “blue car”, the official car politicians use for their work. The reason is that the blue car is for the politician to go wherever s/he wants. Even “a puttane”, as they say in Italy. Here’s a ‘blu car’:
(And, for completeness, here’s a puttana:)
One thing seems to have gone unnoticed in this over-noticed story. The Fab 4, in their relentless effort to raise money to support justice in Italy and abroad, had tried to sell the videotape of Marrazzo and Brenda to Italian magazines. Now, when it comes to Italian Press, and to those who own and control it, this man is very likely to appear:
It has turned out that Berlusconi, who vicariously owns the Mondadori publishing house (the official owner is his daughter), had been informed by the staff of the magazine Chi that they were being offered the video. Silvio allegedly warned Marrazzo of the situation, and reassured him that the video would have not appeared on Chi.
Many people lauded Berlusconi’s behaviour as gentlemanly. Or, at least, so the news described it. Yet almost no one, in Italy, seems to have focused on a bizarre element. The only exception seems to be an article on the Italian newspaper La Stampa (thanks to my sister who has pointed that to me). The article tries to reconstruct the Marrazzo’affaire by highlighting some of its central features. First, the fact that a political member of the Left was found with a prostitute. Second,that the film was then offered to the media. Third, that the media are owned by the Prime Minister, leader of the Right, who can decide whether to publish those images (and, by the way, profit from that). Fourth, that Berlusconi didn’t use that film (the official reply from the Mondadori has been that, after watching the video, they did not find it interesting). But he could have, if it had been about something more convenient for him. In this particular case, he ended up using Marrazzo’s misadventure to underline the terrible situation in which Italian politicians have to work, under the constant risk of being bribed by some anti-democratic photographers. Still, he is in the place to decide what goes and what does not go in the press.
No one finds that strange, in Italy. Anymore.