|“Fix it again, Tony”|
Other charges levied included “fabrication of weapons of war” and “subversion of the democratic order”—this last being a rather interesting way of viewing a group that organized a referendum on something that the central government refused to put to a vote. Those arrested included Franco Rocchetta, a former parliamentary who founded the Veneto League (Ligo Veneta, or L.V.), which in the late 1980s split away from the more geographically broad Northern League (Lega Nord) to launch the movement for a revival of the old republic, a movement called “Serenissimism.”
|Franco Rocchetta (right, holding a Venetian flag) was among those arrested.|
|Serenissimists are shown here pulling off a similar stunt in St. Mark’s Plaza|
in 1997. There were no injuries or violence.
After the referendum held last month, organizers announced at a rally in Padua a turnout of 2.36 million voters out of Veneto’s 5 million residents and 73% of all registered voters. 89% of these voters ticked the “yes” box for independence. Far more concretely, the ballot elected ten “delegates” designated to begin implementing moves toward secession. In the same ballot, Venetians opted to retain membership in the European Union (E.U.), the Euro Zone, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with majorities of 55%, 51%, and 65%, respectively.
Gianluca Busato, the referendum’s organizer, was ecstatic, telling reporters, “Rome treats us as the edge of the empire, good only to pay taxes,” and already discussing details for an independent Veneto’s tax system.
Veneto region’s separatist president, Luca Zaia, celebrated the results but said that there was still “some way to go” along the road to an official referendum whose results the Italian government and the international community would accept.
The arrested of the alleged terrorists may dampen enthusiasm for the movement and test its seriousness. On the other hand, it may just make Venetians—many of whom feel that their region pays in too much to prop up the currency-crisis-ravaged Italian state—only angrier. That seems to be the case for at least one of those arrested, Luigi Faccia, who, in his arraignment in Vicenza on April 4th, would only give his citizenship as Venetian, and told the judge, “As head of the Venetian Liberation, servant of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, I declare myself a prisoner of war.”
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. Look for it some time in mid 2014. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]