Moro, Aldo

   Born in Apulia, the heel of the Italian boot, Moro became a professor of law and criminal procedure at the University of Bari. During the war years, he was simultaneously president of the Federazione Universitaria Cattolici Italiana/ Catholic University Graduates’ Movement of Italy (FUCI); a member of the Catholic Movimento Laureati (Graduates’Movement) and editor of Studium, its major publication; and a member of the Gioventu Universitaria Fascista/Fascist University Youth (GUF). Elected to the Constituent Assembly and subsequently to the first republican Parliament, Moro was identified with Alcide De Gasperi, in whose fifth government Moro was made undersecretary for foreign affairs. Consistently reelected to the Chamber of Deputies, by 1953, he was floor leader of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC). He was minister of education in the 1958 government headed by Amintore Fanfani. In 1959, he became secretary of the DC. In this role he was instrumental in achieving the opening to the left and creating a coalition with the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist party (PSI). Moro headed a government that included the PSI between 1963 and 1968. By 1976, he had been prime minister five times. Moro also served as minister for foreign affairs in governments headed by Mariano Rumor (1969–1970; 1973–1974), Emilio Colombo (1970–1972), and Giulio Andreotti (1972). It was in this capacity that he met Henry Kissinger, who described Moro as wily, imperceptibly maneuvering, and the most formidable among the DC leaders. Moro was indeed the supreme party strategist and a man of extraordinary intellectual subtlety. His detractors described him as obfuscating. Some of his more elliptical formulations are still quoted, for example, “parallel convergences.”
   In the politically troubled 1970s, Moro was chief architect of the compromesso storico. Without his flexibility, the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI), and its leader, Enrico Berlinguer, might have been cold-shouldered. Moro was accordingly regarded by the far left as the symbol of the party regime (a regime that was held to include the PCI). In their boldest move, the Brigate Rosse/Red Brigades (BR) kidnapped Moro in broad daylight on 16 March 1978. After bitter quarrels over his fate, BR leaders offered to negotiate with the government for his release. The offer was rejected, despite the fact that Moro himself wrote several letters to DC leaders pleading with them to save his life. Moro was put on “trial” by the terrorists, found “guilty” on 15 April 1978, and “executed.” His body was left in the trunk of a small automobile in central Rome, midway between PCI national offices and the national headquarters of the DC in Piazza del Gesu, on 9 May 1978. Moro’s murder produced vitriolic exchanges among political leaders of all parties, but most especially within the DC. The police and the political elite were immediately accused of not having done enough to discover Moro’s prison. The subsequent publication of further letters he had written during his imprisonment, in which he was bitterly critical of the efforts being made to get him released, only exacerbated the polemic surrounding his death. The Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia’s book L’Affaire Moro is perhaps the most famous contribution to this debate. For Sciascia, who was a member of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into Moro’s death, the most “monstrous thought” of all was that “someone had died at the right moment.”
   See also Cossiga, Francesco.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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