Italy, busy celebrating the 16th anniversary of the March on Rome, last week made two moves to bind what Italians call their ''fourth shore," the African colony of Libya 350 miles across the Mediterranean, closer to the mother country. The Fascist Grand Council decreed that Libya is henceforth part of Italy proper. Its four provinces, organized in 1934, are now political equals of the Italian provinces and will be represented at Rome.
The second move was to dispatch 18,000 peasants, mainly drawn from congested rural districts, to new Government-improved farms on the Libyan coast. The Government intends to transfer 50,000 peasants to Libya by 1942, at a cost of $100,000,000.
Last week the 18,000 peasants, made up of 1,800 families, each of which was required to have a minimum of eight members, sailed to the Libyan coast on steamships which had seen heavy service shuttling troops and wounded from Italy to Spain and Ethiopia and back. Heads of the families were either veterans of the Ethiopian campaign or stanch Fascist Party members. Many of the women were big with child. Three infants had been delivered on the Genoa docks. Trucks, provided for each family by the Government, rumbled each family to its new home. These were 25-to-75-acre farms, laid out by Government engineers, completely equipped with a fire on the hearth, food on the shelves, cattle and poultry in the yard and a picture of Il Duce on the farmhouse wall. The farm, valued at $2,250, and the truck must be paid for over a 35-year period. The Government has guaranteed to purchase all the crops. When asked why electric light has not been more widely installed in Libyan villages, Governor General Italo Balbo explained: "The birthrate is always highest where there is no electric light."