Mattei's topicality

Publish date 28-04-2023

by Paolo Lambruschi

Enrico Mattei, killed on his private plane on October 27, 1962 in one of the many Italian mysteries of the last century, had a precise project in mind.
He wanted to make Italy independent from an energy point of view, making the most of its position in the center of the Mediterranean and at the entrance to Europe, which at the time was only a small common market.

The project provided for the payment by ENI, of which he was president after having been one of the founders, of 75% of the proceeds to the producing countries to start an equal cooperation and favor the development of the Middle East and the African continent. In Algeria, which had just won independence from France, the former Christian partisan began to put into practice his avant-garde ideas which, in the world divided into two blocks 60 years ago, led him to his death in the explosion of the small aircraft that took him from Sicily to Milan, victim of an intricate conspiracy which saw allies the mafia, the French and American and perhaps Italian secret services and a part of his own party, the DC damaged by his contemptuously defined "third world" project . At least these are the conclusions reached by journalists, historians and directors who have tried to deal with the Mattei case over the years. And Piano Mattei was renamed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni the strategic project of the Italian government to make Italy autonomous from Russian gas, drawing on the resources of African producers. Plan already started with less emphasis by Mario Draghi's caretaker government, but which officially started in the second ten days of January in Algeria.

We will see what the mutual benefits will be, but in the meantime in Africa – as we have repeatedly repeated – the race for large mineral deposits, energy and commercial corridors by old and new players has long since started. We Europeans, especially we Italians, have been still and absent for too long. The proof of this new race for Africa is the intense diplomatic activity of the USA and China in every corner of the continent, the replacement of French troops in Mali and Burkina Faso with Russian mercenaries, key states in the fight against jihadist terrorism and migrants that extremists control to finance themselves. The presence in Libya of the Turks, opposed to the Egyptians allied with the Russians. And the Chinese presence in the Horn of Africa, where many still speak Italian and claim the presence of Rome, which Washington now wants to pacify in order to remove Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan from Beijing's commercial and political influence.

In this complicated plot one wonders what Africans want and what they think. They are mostly victims of the resource curse, which states that a people living in a nation rich in a resource is barred from enjoying the rightful proceeds.
They are affected by famines caused by droughts and floods due to climatic upheavals to which they contributed only 4%, therefore caused by the rest of humanity. They faced Covid and the resulting economic crisis with few vaccines and are now further impoverished by the economic consequences of the war between Russia and Ukraine, with inflation eating away at workers' wages, making the purchase of food prohibitively expensive. In addition, despite being the only corner of the planet that is not in a demographic crisis, they cannot migrate freely because the old European countries prefer to raise costly and deadly walls to exploit the workers who manage to overcome the barriers. If we want to build peace, let's really apply Mattei's plan, let's think in terms of mutual convenience, true democracy and development. Thus we will make the logic of weapons useless.

Paolo Lambruschi
NP February 2023

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