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February 28, 2006

tomorrow at noon: U.S Military out of El Barrio

courtesy of my inbox:

Rally/Resist!!! - U.S Military out of El Barrio! - Wed, March 1st @ 12noon!

No more Boricua Body Bags! Come join the people of El barrio/East Harlem to demand the removal of the u.s. military from our community(s):

Wed, March 1st, 12noon
103d St. (between Lexington & Park aves)
(Take the number 6 train to 103d Street and then turn/walk left)

Boricua Body Bags

"This is a war that's been going on since the invasion of North America." - Pedro Pietri

In Puerto Rico and in Puerto Rican ghettos in the u.s, military recruitment of boricua bodies is
big bizness. While inferior inner-shitty schools mis-educate young people (or don't educate at
all), social programs are cut, and decent job opportunities dwindle (or don't even exist)
"careers" in the military are promoted as the only way out of a life of poverty for Puerto Ricans

Until the so called "Korean War" in the 1950s, soldiers from the island of Puerto Rico were
grouped in their own unit, the 65th Infantry Regiment. Used as cannon fodder by u.s.
commanders in that war against Korea, the regiment argued against this treatment and was
dissolved, and the Puerto Rican soldiers were dispersed into other units.

There are no "Puerto Rican armed forces," besides independentista ones like the Ejercito Popular
Boricua, a.k.a. Los Macheteros, but they are classified as "illegal" by the u.s. government
and therefore exist only in clandestinity. So the only "legal" armed force in Puerto Rico
is the u.s. military, whose commander in chief, the president of the united states, is elected
without the input of the people of Puerto Rico who do not have the right to vote for u.s.
presidents or u.s. congress either. In spite of this fact, since 1917, when the united states
government imposed u.s. citizenship on the people of Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans have fought and
died in all u.s. wars. And since World War II, Puerto Rico has suffered more casualties per
capita than any other US jurisdiction, and the rate is among the highest in the ongoing
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon statistics.

In the so called "Vietnam conflict", Puerto Rican draft-aged men were con-scripted into service
with the u.s. military even though Puerto Rico did not have a voting representative in Congress
and most of the PR draftees did not speak English. More than 100 men were tried in Puerto
Rico for refusing to comply with draft laws during the so called "Vietnam War". If they
appealed, their appeals court was in Boston, where the appeal was heard in English. Puerto Ricans from the island and in the u.s. were also disproportionately represented in front-line combat units. They, like other poor people, also bore the brunt of casualties, during that war, as they continue to do today.

Besides the available use of expendable Puerto Rican bodies to fight and die for the united states, the u.s. has always considered Puerto Rico a strategically important military position in the Caribbean, even before invading the island in 1898. Puerto Rico's location gives the u.s. military access to North, Central, and South America, as well as a perfect location to train troops, test and store new weapons and defend u.s. interests in Latin America.

With the closure of u.s. military bases in Panama after the canal was transferred to Panama in 1999, Puerto Rico now has the highest concentration of u.s. military forces in Latina America and has the 17th largest National Guard among the 50 states and other "u.s. territories", and the percentage of reservists in P.R. exceeds the national (u.s.) average. Also, components of the u.s. Southern Command (USSouthcom), responsible for u.s. military activity in Latin America and the Caribbean, and United States Army South (USARSO), have relocated to Puerto Rico and the u.s. military occupies 25 percent of the land in Puerto Rico.

Currently there is no draft system, so the u.s. military is considered "all volunteer".
However, the ability to change this law resides with the u.s. government, which, of course Puerto Ricans have no control over.  So, if the u.s. should need to reestablish obligatory military service, Puerto Ricans, who have no voice in diplomatic discussions, or in u.s. foreign policy, would have to fight u.s. war(s) against their will, just as they did in the past.

Also, we see that although there is no "draft", the u.s. still sends a disproportionate number of non-white troops and other poor people to fight (and die) in its wars. The Pentagon's personnel records reveal that in East Harlem in 2004, over 90% of the enlistees into the u.s. military (not including the marines who did not provide sufficient data) were Latino and the percentage of recruits from East Harlem was 15 times higher than that of the wealthy (and largely white) Upper East Side which is located right below East Harlem in Manhattan. In the South Bronx, which has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in New York City, the number of recruits into the u.s. military last year was 38 times higher than that of the Upper East Side. Aggressive recruitment in ghetto schools, combined with advertising geared specifically towards the inner-city "hip hop generation" show clearly that the u.s. military continues to target poor non-white youth to fight its war(s).

In the last century, the only nation that has ever threatened the Puerto Rican people or
invaded P.R. is the united states itself, so the u.s. military presence in the island, and the use of so many Puerto Ricans by the u.s. military is both harmful and destructive to the Puerto Rican people or the Puerto Rican nation.

An independent Puerto Rico would reclaim the land on which u.s. military bases sit and use it for P.R. economic development, and provide futures for Puerto Rican youth that do not involve killing and dieing for colonialism. A real Puerto Rican armed force would be dedicated to protecting Puerto Rico's freedom and sovereignty, not to invading countries in the Middle East or anywhere else.

Posted by Joshua Breitbart on February 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack

February 02, 2006

Out of Jail, Into the Army

From Salon.com:

    Facing an enlistment crisis, the Army is granting "waivers" to an increasingly high percentage of recruits with criminal records -- and trying to hide it...

    Through the use of a little-known, but increasingly important, escape clause known as a waiver. Waivers, which are generally approved at the Pentagon, allow recruiters to sign up men and women who otherwise would be ineligible for service because of legal convictions, medical problems or other reasons preventing them from meeting minimum standards...

    According to statistics provided to Salon by the office of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, the Army said that 17 percent (21,880 new soldiers) of its 2005 recruits were admitted under waivers. Put another way, more soldiers than are in an entire infantry division entered the Army in 2005 without meeting normal standards. This use of waivers represents a 42 percent increase since the pre-Iraq year of 2000...

    [E]xamples from the Air Guard files suggest a wider problem:

    • After his parents filed a domestic-abuse complaint against him in 2000, a recruit in Rhode Island was sentenced to one year of probation, ordered to have "no contact" with his parents, and required to undergo counseling and to pay court costs. Air National Guard rules say domestic violence convictions make recruits ineligible -- no exceptions granted. But the records show that the recruiter in this case brought the issue to an Air Guard staff judge advocate, who reviewed the file and determined that the offense did not "meet the domestic violence crime criteria." As a result of this waiver, the recruit was admitted to his state's Air Guard on May 3, 2005.


    • A recruit with DWI violations in June 2001 and April 2002 received a waiver to enter the Iowa Air National Guard on July 15, 2005. The waiver request from the Iowa Guard to the Pentagon declares that the recruit "realizes that he made the wrong decision to drink and drive."

    • Another recruit for the Rhode Island Air National Guard finished five years of probation in 2002 for breaking and entering, apparently into his girlfriend's house. A waiver got him into the Guard in June 2005.

    • A recruit convicted in January 2004 for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and stolen license-plate tags got into the Hawaii Air National Guard with a waiver little more than a year later, on March 3, 2005.

    Taken together, the troubling statistics from the Army and anecdotal information derived from the files of the Air National Guard raise a warning flag about the extent to which the military is lowering its standards to fight the war in Iraq. The president may be correct in his recent press conference boast that "we're transforming the military." But the abuse of recruiting waivers prompts the question: In what direction is this military transformation headed?

Posted by MikeBurke on February 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (57) | TrackBack