*age Friday, November 18, 1983 The Michigan Daily
How deployment affects one Sicilian city
By Frances T. Farenthold
fifth in a series
tOn March 8, 1983, International Women's Day,
I marched in a peaceful procession of several
thousand women through the winding streets of
Eemiso, past the shuttered doors and windows
of this little town in Sicily. With me to oppose
the planned deployment here of 112 cruise
missiles were Franciscan nun Rosemary Lyn-
ch and Elizabeth Scott of the National Council
of Churches of Christ.
The next day we arrived at the entrance of
tue proposed cruise missile base at the old
Magliocco airport, just outside Comiso. At the
gate, their arms locked together, sat 15 women
from the nearby peace camp.
A line of soldiers stood behind them,
engaging in banter; a few Carabinieri (elite
state police) patrol the area. One of the Women
asked that I report to their embassies should
they be arrested.
: SUDDENLY, several squad cars filled with
additional Carabinieri and plainclothes police
kirived. Without warning, the Carabinieri
Rosemary's camera was jerked from her
ek as she attempted to photograph the
vplent encounter. The police assualted a jour-
,olist, ripping out and exposing his film.: They
'rSiashed his head into the street.
I watched in consternation as the Carabinieri
lunged for the demonstrators. Grabbing
whatever they could - arms, legs, clothes -
They dragged the women 25 feet down the road.
I TURNED toward an officer twisting a
woman's arm and admonished him. To no
:vail. The arm was broken.
paved road. Looking over the wall of the old
airport, we saw a few workmen moving around
in a desultory way. Someone was hammering
in the distance.
Yet very little work had been done. Morale at
CUPID was high. The feeling was that there
was still time to stop the deployment.
March 1983. In a few short months, this
serene community had undergone a fundamen-
tal transformation. Cranes, condominiums,
and high rises have altered radically the lan-
dscape. Tall, hastily erected buildings now
overshadow the vineyards and traditional half-
Rumor abounds about a billion dollar expen-
diture for the base and a 3,500-bed military
hospital. This city of 28,000 is presently served
by a 120-bed hospital.
THE CITIZENS of Comiso have been told
that the new base will bring a boom to their
economy and an end to unemployment. But af-
ter eight months of work, only 60 workers of the
5,000 without jobs have been employed at the
base. None of the contracts recently awarded
have been to local or Sicilian firms, as
First there were whispers. Now it is openly
discussed and mentioned in print that the
Mafia has become a strong _presence in
Comiso. Organized crime stands to profit from
lucrative construction contracts obtained
through ghost companies and kickbacks, and
from the drugs and prostitutes it is ready to
The mafia. intimidates those who would
speak out, and increasingly harasses those who
do. Two Americans attending mass in Comiso
in May were approached by a woman they had
never seen before. "You have no idea what
kind of pressure we're under not to oppose the
base," she whispered to them.
THE MAFIA has also attempted to quell
resistance with their assassination of Pio la
Toree, a dedicated opponent of organized
crime and the missile base.
While the Mafia's response to protest has
been harassment, the government's has been
official silence. Thirty thousand people demon-
strated against deployment in October, 1981
and 100,000 as preparations to clear the base
began in april, 1982. In June, 1982 one million
Sicilians, including 80 percent of Comisco's
voters, signed a petition of protest sent to the
Italian capital. This petition has been doomed
to gather dust in a basement in Rome.
Comiso is not yet a household word in the.,
United States, and yet our government's policy
has had a profound effect on the life of that
community. It might be interesting to know
how many of our elected federal officials are
even aware of it.
Circumstances made it possible for me to see
the disruption that our official policy brings to
a modest Sicilian community. Whereas the
people of Nevada and Utah had the resources to
stop the deployment of the MX in their
backyards, the people of Comiso are simply
pawns of higher authorities.
Time and time again democracy has been
overridden in this struggle. The local
representatives of the people have never been
consulted about the proposed base. And the in-
stallation of the missiles is an unquestionable
violation of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947
which explicity forbids the use of Sicily for
Whatever the official verbiage about
deterrence, the fact is that these missiles'
range is only 1,500 miles. Thus they are in-
capable of reaching either Moscow or
Leningrad. However, they are capable of
reaching Libya and.the Middle East. In effect,
Sicily is being transformed into a nuclear ef-
fensive launching pad.
Who in the name of the American people
made this epic decision, and by what method
was it made, and for what purpose? Unless an
aroused American electorate brings' these
issues to the forefront in the next few months,
we will be accepting one more horrendous step
Farenthold is a Houston attorney. She
has been president of Wells College in New'
York and a member of the Texas House of
The incident was brief and violent on the part
of the police. The women, disheveled and
bruised, regrouped in a circle to plan their next
move. We assured the women that we would
convey information of their experience when
we returned to Rome and the United States.
Upon our return to Rome, we wrote the U.S.
ambassador protesting the treatment. No
response. We held a press conference and met
with Italian reporters and senators. There was
minimal news coverage; two days later the
women from the peace camp were arrested
MY FIRST VISIT to Comiso had been four
months earlier in November, at the invitation
of Giacomo Cagnes, the former mayor of the
city for 26 years. I had come to observe and be
briefed by the United Citizens for Disar-
mament and Peace (CUPID), the local
organization he heads in opposition to the
proposed missile base.
When I arrived the scene had been much dif-
ferent. I was met at the airport in Catania by an
Italian protestant minister and his wife. As we
drove into Comiso, I noted with interest the
relative prosperity of this fertile region. I was
told that until the site was selected for the
missile base, Comiso had been free of Mafia in-
As we drove along a country road, I saw the
olive groves, vineyards, and numerous
greenhouses where tomatoes and strawberries
are grown for export all over Europe. My
guides explained that the half-built houses we
saw signify the local tradition of building as a
family is able to afford it, part by part.
AS WE APPROACHED the old Magliocco air-
port, the narrow lane suddenly widened into a
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
AT'&TusWT AT?'oU'LL sLL
US &OPISTICATED UH TECH
SVARE PARTS CHEATER TNMJ
S OUR iE QuLAR u'?PLIER?
Vol. XCIV-No. 63
4~ , r
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
LETN JUST SAPN
z. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
w New political voices
flF SOMEONE out there doesn't believe incumbent Maurice Ferre, a Puerto
!. that women and blacks finally have Rican, was reelected mayor largely
asserted themselves as legitimate because of the overwhelming support
political animals, the results of local he received from the city's blacks. And
and state elections across the country though Raymond Flynn soundly
;over the past two weeks should change defeated a black, Melvin King, for
'iis mind. From Charlotte, N.C. to San mayor in Boston it was more a victory
Francisco the two groups that have for neighborhood politics over machine
been fighting for their political voices politics. Neither candidate spent vast
inade themselves heard. The noise will sums of money and both rani on platforms
r e mserb esatether.h n eNoeber. aimed at heeling Boston's deep racial
keverberate through next November. divisions.
Not for a long time, if ever, have a Blacks did well because they
group of "off-off year" elections (non- registered and voted; the efforts of
presidential and non-congressional Democratic presidential candidate
lection years) sent a stronger signal Jesse Jackson and of the National
to both major parties. The message was Association for the Advancement of
"lear: The party that best reevaluates Colored People paid off again - just as
,Its priorities toward women, blacks, they did last April when Harold
and other minorities likely will do well Washington became Chicago's first
in 1984. black mayor.
Women showed their political Democrats stand to gain most from
muscle in Kentucky, Houston, and San this show of strength by women and
Francisco. Democrat Martha Layne blacks. But to reap those benefits the
Collins became the bluegrass state's leaders of the party will have to come
first woman governor (four of the to understand that their strength lies
state's eight constitutionally beyond big labor. The party will have
established offices are now held by to find a lot of room in its platform for
women). Kathy Whitmire was-relected these new power groups. The standard
mayor of Houston as was Dianne Fein- line will not do anymore.
stein in San Francisco. Republicans are in trouble if they
Many politicians now feel that the cannot bridge the gender and race
strong showing of these women means gaps Ronald Reagan has expanded
both Democratic and Republican greatly. Republicans might stand even
leaders may have to do more than just more to gain by nominating a woman
talk about running a woman on the for vice president.
presidential ticket. One suggestion had 1984 should be more than
Feinstein as the ideal Democratic vice Democratic labor against Repulican
presidential candidate. business. It is up to the two parties to
Blacks did well also. W. Wilson find a way to use the new powers that
Goode and Harvey Gant were elected have emerged from the shadows. The
hmayors of Philadelphia and Charlotte party that does it best stands the better
respectively. Both become the first chance of calling the White House
black mayor of those cities. In Miami, home for a few years.
LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Dean and Krell: Haunting Daily readers
To the Daily:
Dean or Krell?
The question haunts avid
readers of the Daily Arts page
like that woman you met six
weeks ago at Joe's (you remem-
ber her, "Love your nails ... You
must be a Libra . . ."). The one
with the fine Euclidean Topology.
As the bleary eyes fix on the by-
line each morning-after, Krell or
Dean will undoubtedly appear. You
knew that, like you knew the
monster was waiting for you
behind the closet door. Another
literacy (?) miasma of drug-
induced phantasm set to (and
vaguely recounting) last night's
musical incident, set down in
unedited and misspelled authen-
ticity for a readership too shallow
Even for Larry, the article
strikes a sophomoric tone. True
to form, nothing whatsoever was
said about - what was their
name again? - oh yeah: The
Three O'Clocks. (cute name,
right?). An undegreeduate hero
rises from the debris of a har-
monic maelstrom - that's Dean,
ni? Like Brando, he surveys, then
abstains. Deep. Less really is
Could it be that a new cynic has
risen to challenge the staid farts?
Is it rather, a student of these
proud probes, destined to fill
their graduated vacancies? 'M'
No, such trespass would not be
tolerated by the jealous Gods of
the Old Besmirch. This "King"
character is but a mereticious
pseudonym, and it remains to be
seen who's gonna claim it.
It seems unthinkable that one
of them won't.
- Jim Walsh
We encourage our readers to use this space to discuss
and respond to issues of their concern. Whether those
topics cover University, Ann Arbor community, state
national, or international issues in a straightforward or
unconventional manner, we feel such a dialogue is a
crucialfunction of the Daily. Letters and guest columns
should be typed, triple-spaced, and signed.
by Berke Breathed
u if Ylr!_ en lnnna+ /}1L Cfl f 71