Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2007
International Symposium


Andrea Licata

Phd, Vicenza, Italy
Committee of Inhabitants and Workers of East Vicenza - Against the construction of a new base in Vicenza- For the conversion of Camp Ederle to civil uses


Comitato degli abitanti e dei lavoratori di Vicenza est
- Contro la costruzione di una nuova base a Vicenza - Per la conversione della caserma Ederle ad usi civili -

Comitato Unitario contro Aviano 2000
United Committee against Aviano 2000

Centro Studi e Ricerche per la Pace dell- Universit
University Peace Studies and Researches Centre of Trieste

My name is Andrea Licata, I have a degree in International Politics and international PhD in Environmental sociology, I come from Italy and I have studied the impact of military bases, but also the civil alternatives.

I would like to thank all of you for this important invitation that I hope is the beginning of a new important international collaborations in favour of peace. What you are doing here is very important and I am sure critical discussion will be interesting.

When I will be back to Europe I intend to give a contribute to support the demilitarization of Okinawa in public conferences, books and articles, because I know how much is difficult the situation in these islands and it is useful to internationalize the struggle that has a local/global importance in same time. We are trying to do the same in anti military base struggles in Italy not to be isolated. Vicenza and Okinawa situations look similar, I am here to express you our solidarity and I will bring yours back to Italy. Thank you.

As a researcher of conversion processes also in concrete terms, I hope I can give you information now and in next days. Do not hesitate to ask questions or contact me now or later. Let me say again that I would be really happy to do establish a strong collaboration: one personal note, my mother is from Sardinia, a very nice island in the south Italy that was much militarized as Okinawa. A US navy base is finally closing there in north of island, but after an accident, years of pollution and years of protests against the military presence.

Close military bases is possible and also to convert them successfully, (as I say in university to students mentioning hundreds of examples and data), so it is better not to wait to start a conversion process (that always start with the environmental controls and clean up), strongly opposing in same time to all expansion projects and diminishing the hospitality to existing bases. This is the positive message I would like to start with and it is based on facts.

I am now going to talk about the characteristics of militarism today, the struggle going on in Vicenza against militarization of town - in February 200.000 demonstrated against the construction of a new US base - and the civil alternatives, what I like call pre-emptive conversion versus the pre-emptive war.

The new military projects as the new US base planned in Vicenza (or in Germany, Middle East or here in Okinawa) are war projects, very dangerous for all of us. These new bases do not have defensive characteristics but offensive and aggressive, addressed against the civil life in many places, the nature here and elsewhere, the future... As we all know global war is no return project and majority of victims are civil, war refugees, children ...

We all know here how dangerous is the impact of new bases for the environment (destruction of water, sea, soil, natural common resources ...I have a lot of data about it), the society, the culture, the future of new generations. The political and ecological impact of these authoritarian projects is not acceptable.

Military bases are also an economic problem and as you well know they live with enormous amount of public funds that go to military economy and not to social uses. The military propaganda from this point, the "economic advantages", is strong but according to our studies and experiences it is false, just an instrument to start constructions.

The price that Vicenza (as well as Okinawa) risks is very steep. The city, which already has a heavy military footprint, will lose a large green area and the prospect of having projects that are favorable to a sustainable civilian economy. It also risks becoming the capital of new wars rather than a world-renowned city of art.

A lot of studies (for example the Bonn International Conversion Centre) show the concrete effects of converting military bases in different job activities, that, I would add, we could imagine immediately in a "pre emptive" ecological and social oriented.

Between 1989 and the mid-nineties, over 8 000 military installations and facilities covering over one million hectares were handed over for civilian use. Conversion processes and projects involved ten of thousands of workers, sometimes in poor areas.

With alternative energies (solar, wind energy and other forms) for example it is possible to create an important number of jobs and we all know the importance of these activities. Also in Aviano and Vicenza we are discussing these issues. According to some studies the closure of the existing base in Vicenza would be economically an advantage for the town from all point of views.

According to my researches jobs number can increase and also the job condition as well as of course social, ecological, cultural, political ...The conversion in Europe regarded tens of thousands of workers and in general terms we can say it was successful.

Militarization and conversion are two different project with different consequences on life. Militarization processes seem today the intention of governs of solving with force the next social global issues (Water, Oil, Energy, Migration...).

Military projects today are addressed especially against civil people and innocents (women, children, animals...) We have different confirmations from this trend in which speed and war are dangerously creating more and more offensive attacks (Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003...).

People in Vicenza understood that we are living in a very bad political moment, full of risks and under the doctrine of pre-emptive war. I remember one of first conferences there with more than 500 people very interested in understanding the impact of the new base and its characteristics. I told them the new base was offensive and that the water of town could be polluted. The 17th of February we were 200.000 people.

Protest is going on in different forms: public conferences, demonstrations, strikes, blocks ... town is full of anti base groups. Public meetings like this are very important and we are organizing tens of them there. We are also supporting US deserters of Afghanistan and Iraq wars (see Powerpoint).

The only realists are those within the movement for peace. The real extremists are clearly those who support the pre-emptive wars of the Bush Doctrine, which runs through the construction of these camps in a "war-base war-base" logic that risks seeing civilians trapped in a military economy. Despite the unexpected negative news that comes from Rome, the game is not over. If one of the criteria for a base is hospitality, it seems that Vicenza doesn't qualify. Through mass economic boycotts and non-violent actions today we can achieve interesting results. The Vicenza Movement has studied the problem and is mature; it well understands that these bases have a steep price and it is preparing to support policies to convert Base Ederle from military to civilian uses, which would have diffuse benefits, including for employment, as so many precedents in the world have demonstrated.

I will show you now some slides ...