PUERTO RICO: THE REVOLUTION AT OUR DOORSTEP In August, of 1987, the United Nations Committ
PUERTO RICO: THE REVOLUTION AT OUR DOORSTEP
In August, of 1987, the United Nations Committee on
Decolonization voted to ask the United States to immediately remove
itself from Puerto Rico and to recognize the Puerto Ricans' right to
self-determination and independence. This was the 11th time the U.N.
committee made this request. And, each time the request was ignored by
the United States government and by the U.S. press.
In 1898, Puerto Rico won its autonomy from Spain and was well on
its way to becoming an independent nation. That is until July 25,
1898, when the United States invaded the island. After three years of
resistance by the Puerto Rican people, the U.S. military might
prevailed and Puerto Rico became a U.S. colony. In 1952, it became a
"commonwealth," but the colonlial pattern, with 90 percent of the
country's industry in U.S. hands, continues to this day.
Puerto Rico is rife with social and environmental problems, many
of them stemming from its status as an American colony. One
independence group claims that "forty percent of Puerto Rican woman
have been sterilized as part of a deliberate U.S. strategy to
depopulate the island." Unemployment drives many Puerto Ricans to
seek work in the U.S. Many others left their homes in order to
accommodate the seven military bases there. Military recruiters prey
on desperate youth experiencing 75 percent unemployment. Bombing
practice on the island of Vieques destroyed the local fishing industry
there. And while Puerto Rico has eight federal "emergency list" toxic
dump sites, no U.S. environmental laws apply there. The U.S. is in
violation of the Treaty of Tlateloco, which prohibits the storage of
nuclear arms in Latin America, by storing nuclear weapons in Puerto
Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, its importance to the U.S. is not
limited to its industrial development but rather to its critical
position as a U.S. military base. Currently 13% of Puerto Rico is
controlled by the U.S. military. Roosevelt Roads, the largest U.S.
naval base outside the continentnal U.S., is located in Puerto Rico.
And, when the U.S. military is forced to leave Guantanamo, Cuba, and
Panama, in the 1990's, the military importance of Puerto Rico will
The Puerto Rican people are resisting by every means they can
from demonstrations protesting U.S. war games, to protests over plans
to strip-mine mineral-rich Puerto Rico, to militant occupations of
U.S. military controlled-land, to armed actions.
As a result of the growing independencestruggle, the U.S. has
intensified its repression. FBI surveillance, the use of grand juries
to imprison activists, and a deliberate media portrayal of Puerto
Rican independistas as terrorists are all designed to destroy the
movement for self-determination. It was recently revealed that the
Puerto Rican Intelligence Division, a unit known for its closeness to
the FBI, maintains a 74,000-person "subversives list" which includes
not just those affiliated with armed actions but lawyers, writers, and
others who engage in serious dissent.
Given the ongoing repression and the increasing dissension, it
may well be that our next Vietnam is not Nicaragua, but our very own
"Commonwealth" -- Puerto Rico.
SOURCES: NORTHERN SUN NEWS, October 1987, "Puerto Rico: A long
freedom struggle," by Melinda Power, p 5; UTNE READER, Jan/Feb 1988,
"Puerto Rico: Revolution at doorstep?," by Chris Gunderson, pp 13-14.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank