This is a video in English, by Beppe Grillo from Italy, against plans to expand the US military base in Vicenza.
From Italian news agency ANSA:
Spotlight back on US military base
Consumer group steps up campaign against Vicenza project
Vicenza, September 3 – A top consumer rights’ group on Monday stepped up its battle against the controversial expansion of a US military base in northern Italy, filing suit against Premier Romano Prodi and several ministers for allegedly failing to release documents it says are crucial to its cause. Codacons has turned to the regional administrative appeals court TAR (which is often called on in legal tangles involving private citizens or companies and the State) in its bid to prevent the enlargement of the base in the northwestern city of Vicenza.
Codacons wants the TAR to annul the government’s recent green light to the expansion plan, arguing that the Prodi administration has failed to assess the full environmental impact of the project on the UNESCO-listed city.
The association began legal proceedings on Monday against Prodi, Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato and several local politicians saying they had omitted to hand over documents relating to the expansion project which Codacons needed for its case.
It accused the ministers of breaching the law on the transparency of administrative documents.
TAR judges will begin examining Codacons’ case on Tuesday.
The Vicenza base currently houses some 2,750 troops.
The expansion project involves building barracks at the Dal Molin airport on the other side of the city to accommodate 2,100 more US soldiers who are at the moment stationed in Germany.
Washington’s aim is to unite its 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is divided at the moment between Vicenza and two bases in Germany.
Prodi announced in January that he would not object to the base’s expansion, arguing that it was diplomatically impossible to go back on the informal consent given to Washington by the previous, Silvio Berlusconi-led government.
The decision sparked a series of protests including a massive demonstration by residents who fear that the enlargement will strain the city and its resources.
Critics are particularly concerned about the impact on a city which boasts a host of buildings and villas by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, who settled in Vicenza and practically rebuilt the city. For this reason, Vicenza is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Environmentalists also stress that the base’s enlargement will involve the destruction of one of the city’s main green areas.
Surveys show that some 70% of Vicenza’s 115,000 residents are against base expansion.
The Vicenza council has thrown out proposals to hold a referendum on the issue even though local polls have shown that 84% of locals would like to have a say on the matter.
The problem has also created divisions in the centre-left, nine-party governing coalition.
Three of Prodi’s allies, the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), the Italian Communists’ Party (PDCI) and the Greens, have demanded that locals be given the chance to express their views via a referendum.
But Prodi says there can be no backpedalling on his decision.
In the meantime, the government has approved procedures inviting bids from construction companies interested in carrying out the enlargement. According to Codacons, the base’s expansion violates Italy’s constitutionally enshrined pacifist principles. It also says the project requires the approval of the European Council, an executive body of the European Union.
Codacons chief Carlo Rienzi said recently that “our initiative has nothing to do with politics. Our only concern is to protect the resident population, which is entitled to live in peace and safety. The fact is that the city could become a military target if this goes ahead”.
Rienzi said his association also wanted an assessment of the environmental impact of the base’s depleted-uranium stockpiles, electricity plants and fuel stocks.
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