On the 25th of September Italians, including those living abroad, are called to vote for the 2022 general elections. It is an important opportunity for citizens living outside of Italy to make their voices heard and choose their representatives for the Italian parliament.
The Movimento Associativo Italiani all’Estero (MAIE) is one of the options available to voters in North America, where the movement is coordinated and represented by recently-appointed Italian American businessman Vincenzo Odoguardi. Odoguardi, whose companies operate in the US and Canada, strongly supports MAIE’s main ideology, that of “safeguarding the interests of Italians around the world.”
MAIE is a cultural, social and political movement that operates in complete autonomy, and is not affiliated with any Italian political party: this is an essential factor because it allows the movement to act freely and efficiently to meet its main political aim, that of promoting the identity of Italians abroad, and protecting their rights and those of their descendants.
It is important to understand that MAIE is not a traditional political party, as political ideals are not at the heart of its mission. On the contrary, MAIE and its representatives want to embody and protect fundamental values and principles, themselves at the heart of Italy’s very own Costituzione: respect for the Italian Republic's institutions, democracy, and all its principles. These are the mainstays upon which the whole philosophy of MAIE is built, and which can be summarized in three points: 1) safeguarding Italian migrants at a social level; 2) promoting Italian culture and language around the world; 3) contributing to the strengthening of Sistema Italia internationally. These principles are rooted in the awareness that Italians around the world, and their contribution to the growth of commercial, social, and cultural relationships between Italy and other countries, is key in the current climate, and represents an immense opportunity for Italy and its people.
Essential points, upon which more can be developed, including the strengthening of the cultural and personal connection between Italians abroad and their Motherland: giving all Italians, including those born already in North America, the opportunity to discover their roots is key for MAIE. This is why the turismo delle radici is strongly supported by the movement: “root tourism,” a proposal of Italy’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is a type of tourism that wants to help Italians from abroad to get in touch with their roots and learn more about where they come from. With more than 80 million people around the world who consider Italy their country of origin, the offer is of interest to a very large community.
In this context, MAIE wants also to underline the essential role of AIRE, the Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero (Register of Italians Living Abroad), and the importance for all Italians who call North America home to register: it is not only a matter of keeping track of the growth of the community but also to be an active part of it and to enjoy Italian citizenship to the full. Registration with AIRE is a citizen’s right and duty (Article 6 of Law 470/1988) and is necessary to take advantage of the services provided by Italy’s consular network in North America, as well as to exercise essential citizen rights such as voting, or for the renewal of identity and travel documents.
The ultimate goal of MAIE is, to put it simply, to make Italians abroad an even more important part of the Italian nation and, by extension, to help Italians around the world – and in Italy, too – to feel truly and fully “citizens of the world.” Vincenzo Odoguardi said it clearly when discussing MAIE’s mission: “We focus on Italians around the world and their needs: they are at the heart of our political, social and cultural action” because MAIE wants to “build and strengthen their global network with the aim of making them integrant part of the Italian nation as a whole and, therefore, a great resource for the Italian Republic.”
Odoguardi, who is of Calabrian descent like many other Italians of North America, is known for his work in public relations and volunteering, as well as his profound respect for institutions: “ I am already at work – he explains – to develop MAIE further in North America, thanks to the many connections I have here and the many Italians who, just like me, understood how traditional Italian parties cannot give concrete answers to the North American Italian community.”
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