Propaganda Due (Italian pronunciation: [propaˈɡanda ˈduːe]; P2) was a Masonic lodge founded in 1945 that, by the time its Masonic charter was withdrawn in 1976, had transformed into a clandestine, pseudo-Masonic, ultraright organization operating in contravention of Article 18 of the Constitution of Italy that banned secret associations. In its latter period, during which the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi, and corruption cases within the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire.
P2 was sometimes referred to as a “state within a state” or a “shadow government”. The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, members of parliament, industrialists, and military leaders—including Silvio Berlusconi, who later became Prime Minister of Italy; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel; and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services (at the time SISDE, SISMI and CESIS).
When searching Licio Gelli’s villa in 1982, the police found a document called the “Plan for Democratic Rebirth”, which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.
Outside Italy, P2 was also active in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, with Raúl Alberto Lastiri, Argentina’s interim president (between 13 July 1973 and 12 October 1973) during the height of the “Dirty War” among its members. Emilio Massera, who was part of the military junta led by Jorge Rafael Videla from 1976 to 1978, José López Rega, minister of Social Welfare in Perón’s government and founder of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (“Triple A”), and General Guillermo Suárez Mason were also members.
Main article: August 1980 Bologna bombing
P2 members Gelli and the head of the secret service Pietro Musumeci were condemned for attempting to mislead the police investigation of the Bologna massacre on 2 August 1980, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.
Banco Ambrosiano scandal
Main article: Banco Ambrosiano
P2 became the target of considerable attention in the wake of the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano (one of Milan’s principal banks, owned in part by the Vatican Bank), and the suspicious 1982 death of its president Roberto Calvi in London, initially ruled a suicide but later prosecuted as a murder. It was suspected by investigative journalists that some of the plundered funds went to P2 or to its members.
One of the documents found in 1981 was about a numbered bank account, the so-called “Protezione account,” at the Union Bank of Switzerland in Lugano (Switzerland). It detailed the payment of US$7 million by the president of ENI, Florio Fiorini through Roberto Calvi to the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) leader Claudio Martelli on behalf of Bettino Craxi, the socialist Prime Minister from 1983–1987.
The full extent of the payment only became clear twelve years later, in 1993, during the mani pulite (Italian for “clean hands”) investigations into political corruption. The money was allegedly a kickback on a loan which the Socialist leaders had organised to help bail out the ailing Banco Ambrosiano. Rumours that the Minister of Justice, Martelli, was connected with the account had been circulating since investigations began into the P2 plot. He always flatly denied them. However, learning that formal investigations were opened, he resigned as minister.
Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry
The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, headed by Anselmi, concluded that the P2 lodge was a secret criminal organization. Allegations of surreptitious international relationships, mainly with Argentina (Gelli repeatedly suggested that he was a close friend of Juan Perón) and with some people suspected of affiliation with the American Central Intelligence Agency were also partly confirmed; but soon a political debate overtook the legal level of the analysis. The majority report said that P2 action resulted in “… the pollution of the public life of a nation. It aimed to alter, often in decisive fashion, the correct functioning of the institutions of the country, according to a project which … intended to undermine our democracy.” A minority report by Massimo Teodori concluded that P2 was not just an abnormal outgrowth from an essentially healthy system, as upheld by the majority report, but an inherent part of the system itself.
New Italian law prohibiting “secret lodges”