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Italian activists resist construction of new US military base

On Saturday, a hundred Italian activists who oppose the construction of a new U.S. military base at Vicenza’s Dal Molin airport broke into the site, unfurled banners denouncing the plan and planted an 8-meter-high flag as “a symbol of dignity and independence from military slavery and imposition.”

The action was taken in preparation for a much larger demonstration on July 4, when organizers hope thousands will take over the site and plant flags of resistance. Apart from the significance of July 4th in the United States, that date was chosen because “a few days later the G8 begins in L’Aquila, and the new U.S. President will arrive in Italy for the first time.”

Since the military base was approved by the Vicenza’s City Council in October 2006, there has been fierce resistance by the local population. Following the decision, thousands beat pots, pans and drums for seven hours in the city square to register their disapproval. Then, on January 16, 2007, activists nonviolently occupied the local railway station and set up Presidio Permanente – an encampment on the edge of the construction site that has been in operation 24/7 ever since.

The No Dal Molin movement is part of the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases (or No Bases Network) that grew out of the 2004 World Social Forum in India. In 2007, the coalition held their first international conference in Quito, Ecuador that brought together 300 activists from 40 countries.

In her introduction to the new book, “The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts,” Catherine Lutz writes: “Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in 909 [U.S.] military facilities in 46 countries and territories.”