From: "Workers World" <email@example.com> Date: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 22:53:45 EDT
March 21 is the 59th anniversary of the Ponce Massacre, one of many events that reveals the true nature of U.S. colonial oppression in Puerto Rico.
That day in 1937, U.S.-trained police forces and national guard troops opened fire in the town of Ponce. They were shooting on a march organized by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, whose leader was the famous Pedro Albizu Campos.
Twenty-one people were killed and 150 were wounded--simply because they demanded their right to independence and self- determination as a nation.
While this day continues to be remembered as another episode of tyranny, it has served to instill revolutionary traditions and reaffirm the necessity to resist colonialism and imperialism. This tradition helped beat back the U.S. government's most recent attempt to impose its will on the Puerto Rican people.
Because of its strategic location, Puerto Rico--and its sister island Vieques--has historically been used as a base of military operations against the liberation struggles in the region, including Washington's continuing efforts to shatter the revolutionary will of the Cuban people.
Under the pretense of "national security" and the "war on drugs," U.S. generals have been stepping up the use of electronic intelligence gathering from Puerto Rican soil.
The U.S. Marine Corps had designated 150 acres of land--in Vieques and along the coastal shore around the Bay of Lajas--to install an antenna that would communicate with military satellites. This was in addition to the U.S. military's occupation of 14 percent of the country's territory.
This plan involved forcibly relocating many poor working-class families in the district.
A mass movement developed in opposition to the Pentagon's plans. The people of the area organized themselves into the United Front in Defense of the Bay of Lajas. Protest demonstrations took place, including a hunger strike of several native-born men who had formerly been in the U.S. military.
The protesters also pointed out their medical concerns. In other areas of Puerto Rico where military electronic installations have been established, suspicions have grown that the installations are linked with an increase in cancer cases. Moreover, the people in those areas have witnessed a gradual deterioration of their agriculture.
The masses' anger forced the Pentagon to withdraw its plans.
This successful act was in solidarity with other Latin and Caribbean workers and peasants. The day will come soon when Puerto Rico will no longer be used as a spy station or a launching site for military interventions in these countries.
It will be a day when the most sacred words--Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!--will be a reality.
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