Friday, December 19, 2014

Statement of S. A. Cotillo on Fiume

Here we have the statements of S. A. Cotillo, a United States senator who spoke before the United States senate on September 5, 1919, on the Italianity of the free city of Fiume and how the people of the free city of Fiume chose to be part of Italy, but their right to self-determination was rejected:
Now, in reference to Fiume, permit me to quote what an Italian, who fought for 20 years for the redemption of Fiume, says:
Fiume is Italian by the blood that flows in her veins, by the words of her mouth, and the burning desire of her heart.”
Fiume has always fought against foreign oppression. ... I feel it my duty to protest in this exalted House and before the whole world against anybody who may intend to hand Fiume over to the Croats. Because Fiume has not only never been Croat, but has on the contrary always been Italian in the past and must remain Italian In the future. ...

The city of Fiume sent 70 or more telegrams to the peace conference, asking unconditional annexation to Italy, and the municipality and national council sent the following dispatch, which is signed by President Grossich:
The national council, which on October 30, 1918, solemnly claimed the union of Fiume to Italy and placed its plebiscite under the protection of America, expects from the conference the vindication of its right, justice, and liberty, that they be made inviolable according to the unanimous wish of the people of Fiume. In these hours, when the fate of Flume is being decided, the national council appeals to the sense of justice of the conference, expressing its firm faith that the plebiscite, based upon the cardinal principles of President Wilson, will be ratified by the conference. Fiume, which in 1720, 1779, in 1867, and in 1918, decided its own fate of itself, reaffirms by a plebiscite vote its indestructible right to self-determination and its unalterable will to belong to Italy.

President Grossich.”
...the representative of Fiume, the national council of Fiume, on learning of the subject of the conference, adopted a resolution, as follows:
To a council who refuses the right of men we answer “No.” We are Italian and not a savage tribe, and, above all, we are men who can not believe that nations of a Washington, of a Victor Hugo, of a Gladstone dare to shoot their cannons against a little indefensible town, and we are now and forever more proud of our liberty and our Italianity.”
... The people of this country, Mr. Chairman, can not let go unnoticed the appeal of Fiume on October 30, 1918, by proclaiming their right and long desire to be annexed to Italy, because if we did we would betray our own traditions of liberty and humanity that the American Nation so well typifies. ...

Fiume is by population Italian, by language, geographically and historically, and by all that makes up a nation. Its Italian character was even recognized by the Austrian-Hungarian empire. In Fiume, all the mayors, all the deputies, the members of the municipal council, members of the chamber of commerce and of the courts have always been Italian. Therefore, it is self-evident that they can think for themselves; they can dispose of their own fate, and who ran deny them the right to join their mother country? ...

Italy can not be betrayed by the United States. One can not ask Italy to renounce the Italianity of her children. It has been said that Italy must relinquish all her rights to Fiume if she expects to obtain coal from us. It would be cruel and unjust to offer to her, in exchange for this betrayal, food and coal.
—S. A. Cotillo, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 4, 1919