|No MUOS activist armed with his hammer before climbing the US military satellite dish|
Dave Webb, Josi McIntire and I arrived in Sicily just after
noon yesterday. We landed at the Comiso
airport that during the 1980’s was a US military base and a deployment site for
more than 100 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles when Ronald Reagan made the move in October 1983
to position these nuclear-capable weapons in England and in Sicily. He also deployed the Pershing II nuclear
missile in Mutlangen, Germany all aimed at the former Soviet Union. (The Pershing II was built in Orlando,
Florida where I was living at the time and I organized a statewide
demonstration there in October of that year as part of an international day of
protest against these provocative deployments.)
Currently the Comiso base is an airport but you can see the
remains of the nuclear bunkers just across the street from the main airport
After being picked up at the airport by our hosts they took
us to nearby city of Ragusa near the southern coast where the owners of a
lovely Bed & Breakfast have offered their place for the three of us to stay
during our time here.
In the late afternoon just as the sun set two of the men
from the local No MUOS
(Mobile User Objective System) committee in Ragusa took us for a walk down the hill
into the ancient part of the town called Ibla that was built in the 1400’s,
devastated by an earthquake in the late 1600’s, and was rebuilt by the Spanish
who occupied these lands at the time.
These days we heard speculators from the US, Germany, England and China
are buying up many of these very old homes.
At 8:00 pm we were taken to the home of one of the local
activists in Ragusa who hosted a dinner for 14 people and the several courses
revealed the great hospitality of these wonderful new Sicilian friends.
During the coming days here we will be shown the sites,
treated to more such dinners, and we will speak twice in different towns. We’ll also visit the military space
communications relay base on Saturday being constructed by the US. The No MUOS campaign has been fighting
against this expansion of an existing US space communications base and they
have successfully got a Sicilian regional court to temporarily stop
construction of the base. The US
government though has demanded that the Italian government ignore its own
judicial process in order to force the finalization of the MUOS installation. In response to pressure from Washington a
five-person committee was formed by the Italian government to make the final
decision about the base expansion taking the case away from the Supreme Court
which was supposed to rule on whether the US base expansion had followed all
So organizing and protests will continue and things are
expected to heat up in the coming month as the five-person appointed committee
is set to meet in Palermo this December.
I’ll write in more detail on all of this in the coming days.
Update: As we were taken on a drive today to visit the historic town of Modica our host received a call saying that one of the key No MUOS activists had climbed onto one of the US military satellite dishes and took a hammer to it. Above you can see photos of him on the dish. No word yet as to what will happen to him.