Caribops: Support the demand for clean up and reparations for Vieques

By TONY SEED

Vieques Will Win, September 15, 2002

HALIFAX (November 1, 2002) – ON OCTOBER 9, the U.S. Department of Defence admitted to running chemical and biological weapons on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques which the U.S. Navy has used to conduct war games for more than 60 years.

According to Inter Press Service, the experiments “using biological and chemical weapons, were performed by the U.S. military in the 1960s and 1970s at various locations in the United States and beyond, including the Puerto Rico town of Vieques.”

Vieques has been a US military base for 59 years, and is the site of yearly military exercises by NATO’s immediate-reaction naval force. This use is in clear violation of the aspirations and rights of the inhabitants.

Every year, Canada sends an Iroquois-class destroyer with the immediate-reaction naval force to take part in the environmental and human destruction of the island. Each is armed with standard missiles, MK46 torpedoes, and various gunnery, all of which are tested. For a number of years, these tests featured the Phalanx artillery system using Depleted Uranium coated shells in ship-to-shore shelling exercises. The range of years has never been disclosed.

In the 1980s, Canada deployed as many as eleven destroyers and 2,500 sailors in the annual exercise code-named Caribops. It was during one such “fun in the sun” exercise, Ocean Ventures 82, that the invasion of Grenada was perfected.

Other locations included Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Canada, the Marshall Islands and Britain.

Fifty-five veterans who were part of the experiments have made health claims and said that they were used as guinea pigs in the tests. Various experiments were performed including outdoor experiments, which means civilians may also have been exposed to harmful chemical and biological agents.

The tests were all part of a major U.S. military program to test chemical and biological weapons. The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time earlier this year that some of the tests used real chemical and biological weapons and were not designed to target human beings but test the capacity of the equipment. To date it denies past and present use of these weapons in Korea, Cuba and elsewhere. About 5,000 members of the U.S. armed forces were involved in tests at sea and an additional 2,100 involved in the tests on land. On repeated occasions such tests have been conducted over cities or used on the Native, African-American and prison populations within the United States. The consequences of damage to the human and natural environment as a result of unsafe storage and refusal to clean up testing ranges is only beginning to reveal itself.

Shunpiking Magazine supports the just demands of the peoples for full disclosure of these experiments and other such activities of the U.S. military – including off the coasts of Atlantic Canada – in which Canada and Britain fully participated and redress for all those affected, including full clean up, proper disposal and compensation and reparations.

With files from Inter Press Service and TML Daily

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Filed under Caribbean, No Harbour for War (Halifax)

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