Crimes against peace, Palm Sunday and Vieques

Crimes against peace, Palm Sunday and Vieques

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By P. Luis Barrios

The United States drops all its ammunition in a populated place regardless of adverse consequences. And what the hell is the United States doing with the Vieques population, when we know they used reduced uranium, napalm, and chaff?

In the midst of all this hubbub, presuming that the United States "won the war against Iraq" and that they "managed to institute democracy" by dethroning Saddam Hussein from his dictatorship, on a day like today, Palm Sunday - the day we remember the entrance triumphant of the companion and brother Jesus to Palestine to denounce and condemn the Roman Empire which colonized their homeland- I wonder; Where the hell is the democracy that George W. Bush and his administration talk so much about when we see the reality of Vieques and the rest of Puerto Rico? For example, Bush's great concern regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - a war crusade that has demonstrated its ability to both overwhelm defenseless peoples and use weapons of mass disinformation - should be viewed in the context of what the Navy does. War the United States has made in Vieques.

Once you undertake this mission of identifying the relevance, logic and seriousness of Bush's warlike actions, you have to necessarily recognize that this President is a person with little or perhaps no morality, seriousness or honesty towards the democratic processes that he they favor the people. And I specify democratic processes that favor the people because I have no doubt that President Bush is very moral, serious and honest when he defends tooth and nail the interests of the ruling class. That is one of the reasons why the Supreme Court of the United States - not the people by direct vote - chose him to be President. What a shame, and then he fills his mouth saying that Saddam Hussein was in power illegitimately. Go see which of the two governments is more fraudulent. But returning to the issue of chemical weapons and concerns for life, I would like to know why Bush, like his predecessors, is not interested in recognizing and intervening in the Vieques issue, where more than 9,000 Puerto Ricans have had to suffer. in raw the warlike maneuvers of the United States Navy - and from time to time also of its allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - leaving as a result crudely impacted ecological systems, the extermination of resources natural and the decline of the biotic community.

To this painful reality must be added what was reported in the report to the Vieques Special Commission where it was declared that in 1997 the risk of dying from cancer in Vieques is 55% higher when compared to the mortality rate of the rest of the population of Puerto Rico. This has not changed. Another matter of great seriousness is infant mortality in Vieques, which reflected an excess of 70% when compared to the rest of the population of Puerto Rico. All this terrifying picture where human, botanical and animal life is attacked is the result of the use of weapons of mass destruction by the United States Navy, the same that at this precise moment is supposedly liberating and democratizing to Iraq. Until now, the investigations and analyzes carried out in Vieques have shown that in violation of the regulations of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, for its acronym in English-EPA, 11 metals such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper , lead, nickel, tin, vanadium and zinc, have been spread in the Viequesense territory seriously affecting the environment. The concentration of metallic compounds is palpable on the Island of Vieques and the violation can be detected in the levels of these metals used and their accumulation without a serious analysis of their environmental impact and on the health of the people.

What is implausible in all this is the lack of sensitivity of these people when throwing all their ammunition in a populated place without caring about the adverse consequences of these maneuvers. And what the hell is the United States doing with the population of Vieques, when we know that in addition to the aforementioned pollutants they also dared to use reduced uranium, napalm and chaff. Hence all this reality that the level of contamination in Vieques is cruel. These human and civil rights violations committed by the United States government are war crimes. Why war crimes? Because the presence of the Navy in Vieques is due to the colonial relationship that exists between Puerto Rico and the United States.

This is why I constantly affirm that Vieques is a symptom of a serious problem that we call colonialism. Let's not forget that it was in a military invasion that the United States took control of our homeland, on July 25, 1898.

They are doing the same with Iraq right now. Since they arrived in Puerto Rico, they planted a flag, put up their government, made us second-class citizens and gave us a Constitution in which our political, military, and economic powers as a Nation were subordinated to Congress and the President of the United States. In this matter of colonization, subordination and violation of national sovereignty, Congress and the President of the United States make decisions about the people of Puerto Rico and the latter, on the one hand, does not have the right to vote for the President, and who represents us. in Congress - Resident Commissioner in Washington - has a voice but does not have the power to vote. To this core we can add the reality that our children have to go to fight those wars in which the United States is involved. An example of this is the current war against the people of Iraq. In other words, you have to put on the military uniform of the country that has colonized us. All this injustice is what confirms to me every day that despite the claims of victory, I believe that both in Puerto Rico and in Iraq the United States government lost the moral war.

The media wants us to believe the demagogue discourse of President Bush and his administration that the fight for democracy and the implementation of freedom are the only two reasons why they invaded Iraq. If this charlatan speech is correct - which I don't think so - then let them begin by democratizing Puerto Rico in a way that we achieve our decolonization and independence. Let them leave our homeland starting with Vieques and continuing with the rest of the Nation. Now, and I say this without sounding pessimistic, those who are celebrating the departure of the Navy from Vieques, Puerto Rico for this May 1, who sit down so that they do not fall flat. This matter of "Shooting Polygons", "Internal Polygon", "Conservation Zones" and "National Security" is to tie dogs with sausages. Especially when, on the one hand, the supposed memorandum of Admiral Robert Nader, certifying the closure of the Internal Polygon, does not establish the conditions for the return of all occupied lands, the decontamination and cleaning of these lands and the socio-economic development of Vieques.

Added to this is the ñangotamiento of the colonial governor Sila Calderón and the culipandeo of the Mayor of Vieques Dámaso Serrano, for whom their main concern is how to achieve the political re-election of the Popular Democratic Party. Faced with so much hypocrisy, malice and falsehood on the part of President Bush, his administration and the colonial administration in power in Puerto Rico, our triumphal entry for this Palm Sunday must be in honor of peace with justice. Let's shake the bouquets and shout at the top of our lungs that the creation of a different world is essential and possible. We will of course achieve this by praying and working for peace. I prefer the combination of these two ingredients. But let us not forget, if you have to choose between one of these, better not pray but hell work for peace. If you just choose to pray you suffer from laziness, idleness and apathy. By thinking global and acting local, we are going to begin building a better world. Peace with justice

* Father Luis Barrios
Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas New York,
New York Palm Sunday; April 13, 2003



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