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“Not as you are, but as you should be”: Revolution, Diplomacy, and the 1999 Extradition of Silvia Baraldini

doc4b05c7b302eb1167622140.jpgThe Department of Comparative Literature together with the Department of Italian Studies at UC Berkeley proudly present:

Ellen Nerenberg, scholar of contemporary Italian culture from Wesleyan University

Silvia Baraldini does not consider herself a terrorist, as she told filmmakers Margo Pelletier and Lisa Thomas in the 2009 documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini. Yet Baraldini’s arrest, trials, and convictions in US federal courts tell of her reception as a dangerous and radical foreign national who supported armed insurrection against the United States. In November 1982, Baraldini was arrested for her role in a 1979 armed bank robbery conducted by members of the Black Liberation Army and meant to finance the efforts to liberate Assata Shakur (also known as Joanne Chesimard), who had been convicted in the death of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973. Convicted on US federal anti-racketeering charges, Baraldini received a 44-year sentence.

Part of a book-length project bearing the working title A Radical Life: Silvia Baraldini, this presentation focuses on the convergence of two criminal incidents, the first of which is the 1979 armed robbery that led to Baraldini’s conviction. The second took place two decades later in Cermis (or Cavalese), deep in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains in February 1998 near the NATO airbase at Aviano, when a low-flying plane piloted by United States Marine Captains Richard Ashby and James Schweitzer severed the cable of a ski gondola carrying 20 people, sending everything crashing into the valley below; there were no survivors. Whereas Baraldini’s guilty verdict generated a 44-year sentence in accordance with RICO guidelines for aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise, and for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury, Ashby and Schweitzer, were tried in closed-door courts-martial in Camp Lejune, North Carolina, and acquitted of charges of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide, though they were subsequently dismissed from the US Marine Corps. The two incidents, distinguished by tenor and actors, come together in unlikely convergence in the summer of 1999. This presentation explores how the Cermis tragedy and its resolution provided the diplomatic leverage necessary for extraditing Baraldini to Italy so that she might serve out the balance of her sentence.

With any questions, contact Ramsey McGlazer

For accommodation/mobility requests, please contact issa@berkeley.edu

Words in Action: A Multilingual Student Performance

 Join us for Words in Action, our Spring celebration of world languages and cultures as Berkeley students present scenes from plays, original acts, songs, poetry, and dance.

Join us in supporting our students and our diverse language community on the UCB campus.

Participation in the event is open to any UC Berkeley student taking a language course at any level.

For more information you may contact Annamaria Bellezza at ambellezza@berkeley.edu