Italy: Explosion of protest at expansion of US base

On Tuesday, 16 January, five thousand people demonstrated and blocked the railway station at Vicenza in north-eastern Italy.

They were protesting after Italian prime minister, Prodi, said he was in favour of expanding the American military base in the city. He did not think it was a "political problem".

The crowds particularly appreciated the bonfire of ’election certificates’ and party membership cards. Ezio Lovato, secretary of the Prc (Party of Communist Refoundation) in Vincenza said that 700 members were ready to send back their membership cards.

Youth from the social centres spent the night in a ’war council’ waiting for a mobilisation of students on Thursday. A large tent was set up as a permanent ’barracks’.

Thousands of high school students took part in a demonstration from the station square with protests outside the council and the offices of Confindustria (the employers’ organisation) who are in favour of the project. There were no party banners as a sign of their disillusion with the main political parties.

Protesters are calling on the Prc, Pdci (Party of Italian Communists) and Greens to leave this contradictory government. The functioning of this base does not make sense now that the Italian troops have been withdrawn from Iraq. It is obviously a base for making military attacks. It is not there to solve local employment problems in Vicenza but the more general ’problems’ of the Middle East – and we all know how they go about doing that!

The militarisation of the city is not just a matter for the local authorities but a question of foreign policy. People are angry that the government is off-loading its responsibilities, especially since the local council has said it will not conduct a referendum on the matter.

"The politicians have betrayed us", commented Giancarlo Albera, coordinator of the ’Committee for a ’No’’. The struggle is continuing.

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