Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Puerto Rico

On July 25, 1898 thousands of US troops stormed the beaches of Puerto Rico lead by General Nelson Appleton Miles

"A reliable servant of U.S. capitalist expansion in the western U.S. states. Miles was infamous for his role in the suppression of the Pullman strike and other labor struggles. He was also known for his capture of Native leaders like Geronimo and Sitting Bull after hard fought resistance battles waged by Native people. But Miles’ most outstanding crime was the Dec. 29, 1890, massacre of 300 Indigenous men, women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota."

What was this anti-union, Native American murderer doing in Puerto Rico?

The United States' invasion of Puerto Rico and Cuba spawned from the a desire to take direct control of the economic interests in the Spanish controlled colonies. US investments in these colonies amounted to over 50 million dollars in 1897. As history has shown us, the United States has a trademark wam-bam-thank you ma'am style of justification for war: discover economic interests, establish ideological superiority, conquer the 'inferior government', and then plunder resources for the profit of America; all the while throwing the locals some scraps.

There was no problem applying this formula to Puerto Rico and Cuba in the era of 'Manifest Destiny.' After all, America has had some significant practice. Remember all those Native Americans the US massacred? or all that land we stole from Mexico? (cough*California*cough)
With a winner takes all attitude, the US began the colonial process by harassing Spanish vessels off the coast of Puerto Rico and Cuba, often seizing the cargo off of their ships. At this point in Spanish history, Spain was too weak militarily and economically to stop America's bullying.

Now the catalyzing event. On February 15, 1898, the battleship USS Maine exploded while docked on the shore of Havana, Cuba. 266 sailors were killed, yet the ship's Captain and close officers were unharmed. While there was no evidence to prove who was responsible for the explosion, the US government quickly blamed the Spanish government (despite Spanish efforts at diplomacy and compensation) and declared war. Do you see a familiar formula here? Economic interest, 'terrorist attack' leaving top military officials unharmed, hasty and unproven blame, invasion (cough*9/11*cough).

Puerto Ricans make up approximately 2.5% of the U.S population
Puerto Ricans are not allowed to vote for president
They have no representation in Congress
Yet they can be drafted and forced to fight in the US military
Puerto Rico's economy and politics are dominated by US politicians and corporations

The magazine Socialism and Liberation describes Puerto Rico's contemporary struggles:

"The big business mass media make every effort to disguise the foreign subjugation of Puerto Rico. But events take place that push the truth about the U.S. occupation to the surface. The FBI assassination of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios in September 2005 and the struggle to stop U.S. Navy bombing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in 2000 were two recent cases. The recent wave of demonstrations denouncing the colonial government’s closing of public schools and services in May was another."

When considering who you vote for, find out their stance on Puerto Rico.
This is a great litmus test issue.

Sources: Socialism & Liberation Magazine, Democracy Now!

1 comment:

Leslie A said...

Only another affirmation that indeed, we are the enemy. and I like the *cough* inserts. Alex, you should post that Racing the Clock essay you wrote on racism.