IT and US: December 2021, the elections of Com.It.Es, the Italian Committees Abroad

Oct 16, 2021 277

On the 3rd December 2021 the elections of the Italian Committees Abroad, known as “Com.It.Es.” will take place. The Com.It.Es. are the representative bodies of the Italian communities abroad and were established by a bill passed by the Italian Parliament in 2003. 

The Italian citizens resident abroad directly elect them in each consular district, counting at least 3.000 resident compatriots. In the US they are based in New York, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami. 

The Com.It.Es. give voice to the overseas Italians by representing them in their relation with the diplomatic-consular authorities. Therefore, their primary task is to connect with the Italian community and to share their needs to our Embassies and the Offices of our diplomatic-consular network. The purpose is to cooperate to implement together initiatives aimed at achieving a full social, cultural and economic integration of the Italian communities. 

In recent years, also thanks to special projects sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, many Com.It.Es. have paid particular attention to young people and to the new mobility, through the implementation of information desks or first reception, both physical and virtual. They significantly supported the convey of helpful information relevant to the relocation and the integration in destination countries. It is worth mentioning the “Sportello Unique” by the Montreal Com.It.Es., active since 2017 in the assistance of recently migrated Italians. A large number of compatriots turned to such desks and reported highly positive feedbacks, especially women who have been supported and guided to strengthen their positions in host countries. 

To the benefit of both local and Italian public opinion, the Committees foster cultural initiatives aiming at valuing the historical role of Italian migration by means of dedicated studies, exhibitions, conferences and successful publications. Among such a wide variety of initiatives, the following stand out: the documentary about the “Italians of the Bay Area”; the “Silicon Valley” photo book produced by the San Francisco Com.It.Es. that describes the successful stories of the Italian migration in the Silicon Valley; the comic book titled “70 years of migration in Belgium and beyond” published by the Bruxelles Com.It.Es. Other initiatives contributing to the same narrative communication thread are “Italians of Père Lachaise”, published by the Paris Com.It.Es. which tells the stories of the Italians buried in the well-known cemetery of Paris, as well as the comic book by the Berna-Neuchâtel Com.It.Es. about the story of the Italian migration in Switzerland over the past 50 years, to be published soon. 

Furthermore, the Com.It.Es. have paid particular attention to the promotion of equal opportunities. During the last administration, many projects focusing on the efforts of women were delivered. Among them, I would like to mention the book published by the Com.It.Es. in Dortmund titled “A scream will save us”. This is a collection of experiences from women who displayed their desire to live and contribute to society during the pandemic. An additional significant initiative that I would like to highlight is the creation of the “pink network” by the Com.It.Es. of San Francisco. By means of interpersonal contacts, workshops and meetings, it aims to value the development of women’s entrepreneurship within the Italian community.

In this context, it should be acknowledged that women represent around the 36% of the Com.It.Es. presidential chairs. This is certainly an added value that we all are committed to augmenting by further promoting the participation of women’s candidates in the next electoral appointment. 

It is especially during the current pandemic that we have had the opportunity to appreciate the engagement of the Com.It.Es. They have played an active role in providing support and assistance to our communities abroad. They activated and converted the former information desks into Covid assistance desks helping in disseminating information on the measures adopted at local level to tackle the emergency via web and social media. Not only they advertised the welfare initiatives promoted by local institutions, but they also actively engaged in delivering a series of supporting activities. They targeted the Italians who suffered the most from the effects of the pandemic surge by fostering the re-training, the continuing education and the provisioning of psychological assistance to compatriots. Without such an aid from the Com.It.Es., these Italians would have faced serious difficulties in accessing such services locally, because of the language barriers and the high inherent costs. 

For all these reasons, we must acknowledge that the Com.It.Es. are an invaluable resource to our communities and an effective tool to value the efforts of our compatriots abroad and to voice their needs. The next elections in December represent an appointment of key importance to renew and enhance their role. It is therefore essential that all compatriots resident abroad take part in the elections. To stress it even more, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation started well in advance a wide-ranging information campaign through its Embassies and Consulates focusing on the importance of voting and on the relative procedures and deadlines. We promoted the circulation of thematic videos to facilitate the dissemination of information in the reference languages of our overseas communities as well as in English. The website of each Italian Embassy and Consulate provides detailed information on voting procedures.

I therefore hope that the next Com.It.Es. elections will record a broad participation to actively contribute to the promotion of the interests of the Italians abroad! Lastly, let me remind you all that in order to vote, you shall first sign up by your Embassy and Consulate of reference before November3rd, 2021. This can be done either in person or through the FAST IT system, as well as through certified e-mail (Italian PEC), standard e-mail or even paper mail. Please notice that in the last three cases, it is required to enclose a copy of an identification document. For any further information, please refer to the websites of the Italian Embassies and Consulates.

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