Vieques, Puerto Rico: No to criminalization of people’s struggles

Given the participation of Canada in the militarization of the Caribbean and its participation in sea-to-shore bombing exercises in Puerto Rico (code-named Caribops), using for one period DU shells from the Phalanx artillery system, we are reproducing the following item on the resistance being waged by the islanders and the role of the U.S. Navy in attacking their just struggle. – TS

(August 7, 2001) – ON AUGUST 2, US Navy personnel attacked protestors opposing the continued US wargames on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Security personnel fired rubber bullets, metal-filled bean bags and tear gas at protestors and journalists outside the US military base on the island.

Navy officials have sought to justify the attack. Navy spokesperson Katherine Goode said, “There were people cutting the fence, throwing rocks at the security force and vehicles and pushing on the fence. As a result, the security forces perceived this as a threat to harm military personnel.” She added that security forces only “retaliated” after protestors fired a flare toward the base, “shone bright lights at the officers and tried to break into the fence.”

The Navy’s account of events has been vehemently denounced by those present, including an Associated Press photographer who was hit by a rubber bullet. The photographer said protestors only shook the fence and yelled at the Navy when security personnel fired a flare, canisters of tear gas and rubber bullets. Protestors at the site of the attacks had no tools for cutting the fence and fired no flares, he said, and the only lights he saw were those from his and other journalists’ cameras.

Arguments to justify the US’s attacks against the people of Vieques seek to divert from the question of what it just and what is unjust. It is the US whose wargames threaten the health and well-being of the people of Vieques. It is the US which for over 60 years has stood in contempt of the unequivocal demand of the people of Vieques for an end to military occupation of their land. And it is the US which requires Vieques to train for imperialist military aggression worldwide. TML Daily vigorously denounces these latest attacks against the people of Vieques whose courageous and just struggle against the US Navy stands as inspiration to all those opposing US imperialism.

 TML Daily, August 7, 2001

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