Women leaders of an Italian grassroots movement to protest construction of an American military base in Vicenza, Italy arrived in Washington this week to plead their case on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, the group staged a protest that drew approximately 200,000 demonstrators to the city of Vicenza — one of the single largest protests against the US military to date. The women spearheading the movement against the Dal Molin base led a four-mile march, chanting, “We who are women have no fear. We don’t want the base, we don’t want the base.”
Dal Molin would be the second base in the city of Vicenza, and residents believe the increased military presence would strain the city’s resources and threaten historic monuments. “It will destroy our community,” said Cinzia Bottente, a housewife who has come to symbolize the movement, in a February interview with CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. Benjamin traveled to Italy to participate in the demonstration. Critics also fear the base will implicate Italy in the war on Iraq and Afghanistan, and make Vicenza a target for terrorist attacks.
The women of Vinceza have gathered thousands of signatures, blocked traffic, banged pots and pans at local city council meetings, and organized vigils and rallies to demonstrate their opposition to the base. This week, a delegation of movement leaders came to Washington in the hopes of engaging American support for their fight and to gather signatures on their online petition. On May 2, movement founder Thea Gardellin appeared on Democracy Now to say, “[We] decided to come to Washington, not only in representation of the entire city of Vicenza, but in representation of those more than 200,000 people that did come to Vicenza to say no to this new project.”
LEARN MORE Women throughout history have played an important role in peace movements. Read “War Through a Feminist Lens,” an article by feminist scholar Patricia McFadden in the Winter 2007 issue of Ms. magazine