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26 Feb, 2009 11:08

Italians furious over US base on their soil

The US is reorganizing its presence in Europe. It plans to close down a base in Germany and relocate some 3,000 troops to Vicenza, Italy. However, locals there are against having a US army base in their backyard.

The Italian government has approved the new base without asking the local population. After numerous requests, the government had denied them a chance to hold a referendum on the issue.

Vicenza’s mayor Achille Variati says he is powerless:

“These are military pacts Italy signed at the end of WWII, now the issue is under the competence of Rome. As a result the citizens of Vicenza have no influence over these agreements in 2009.”

It comes as no comfort to the local community. Alarmed at the environmental and economic impact, as well as the risk of becoming a terrorist target, they began a grassroots campaign

“This was imposed on us. The people of Vicenza said no. This, excuse the term, is fascism. It isn’t democracy,” local resident Emanuele Rivellino said.

The protesters managed to delay the construction, but they remain powerless to alter old deals.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old Vicenza already houses as a retreat to some 3,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. RT tried to put the locals’ concerns to the US military, but they refused to comment on the matter.