Arcobelli: “We will defend citizenship and the Italian language abroad”
TORONTO – This is not his first attempt at elected office. The first time was preparation round, he says. Given the complexities associated with the Italian electoral system, especially as it pertains to becoming elected as a representative of the Italian Diaspora in the Italian Parliament, many random factors have to fall into place to secure election, not least of which is the position of the party whose colours in the electoral premises of the electorate in Italy.
Vincenzo Arcobelli (in the pic above, from his Twitter profile @VinceArcobelli), Sicilian by birth, education and professional training – at least initially – is seeking election as member of the Giorgia Meloni group in the Centre Right coalition currently the favoured political formation for the September 25th election.
There is only one Senate position set aside for Italians living in the North American constituency that comprises Canada, the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and most of Central America. Corriere Canadese caught up with candidate Arcobelli at an event in Woodbridge. He is neither shy nor presumptuous, but he exudes self confidence.
Welcome to Canada. You are a long way from home…
“This is the home I have chosen to represent, yours and mine. It is a vast territory Italians like the ones present here in Toronto (Canada) today, in the USA, Mexico and elsewhere have been instrumental in building and bringing into the 21st century. With all due respect, we Italians who live around the world want individuals who are familiar with the sacrifices they have made (some would say, continue to make), the willingness to travel on their behalf is a small price to pay for the privilege to serve them. Every Italian Canadian who has left Italy in the last one hundred and twenty years would feel the same”.
Not to be provocative, but are the Italians enrolled in the AIRE, the ones eligible to cast a ballot, not simply voting according to party lines, thus making that qualifier unnecessary?
“Even it were true, and it is not, I would consider myself a less worthy candidate if I did not go where my constituents are. My leader Giorgia Meloni thinks enough of Italians in North America to accept an invitation to speak to our fellow citizens and others. I can do no less”.
Fair enough. Before we go further, what makes you, on a personal basis, as qualified as another to seek this office? Better still who is Vincenzo Arcobelli?
“I think an office holder has to present a background of public (volunteer) service, a history of professional and entrepreneurial undertakings and a willingness to learn, be that learning academic or skills-based. Without appearing immodest, my curriculum vitae reveals all three. Briefly, I have earned diplomas and degrees in aeronautics and applied them in my professional career with the military and military related industry in both Italy and the USA. Secondly, I have made time to be engaged, both front and centre and as part of a team, in COMITES committees throughout the USA and in social-community activities designed to advance the Italian community presence and contribution. Finally, my transoceanic business activities have made me more acutely aware of the challenges to maintaining productive continuity between us and our motherland”.
What are the three goals you have in mind for your mandate, should you win?
“Citizenship and the accompanying passports. Those of us who emigrated, for whatever reason, never wanted to abandon our birthright, our Italian citizenship. The countries we now inhabit still see us as Italians. Only bureaucratic rationale has stripped us of our birthright. In an age where an Italian passport gives almost automatic right to a European passport and the mobility for business and personal travel this is unacceptable. With Giorgia Meloni, who is seized of this, we should be in a position to re-energize the initiative. I believe in this, and I consider myself part of her team”.
And the second?
“It is part and parcel of the first: the maintenance of our language abroad. It is the means of communication irrespective of the platform used that most defines who we are, the culture we nourish the values we hold dear. It is what keeps us close to our roots and facilitates our connection with each other, directly and intergenerationally. It is indispensable to the spread of our “Made in Italy” strategy from a commercial and cultural point of view. If we lose our language, we become something else. Italy’s cultural agencies (like the Editoria) need to be given the tools to pursue those goals more aggressively”.
We at Corriere might be accused of self-interest for agreeing with the concept. What is the third?
“Let me first conclude the language issue. We need to be more engaged in the education of our children and grandchildren with school authorities abroad if our language policies are to succeed. That requires resources and aggressive voices to free them up. As to the third goal, it too is service related and requires additional resources to meet the needs of local consulates to provide the services requested by Italians abroad in a timely and efficient manner. I recognize that some Consuls general are already doing what they can in this regard. I will work to ensure that the necessary funds will flow to meet the need”.