Via Workers World News Service
Puerto Ricans mark 100th anniversary of U.S. bombing
By Monica Somocurcio, Workers World, 28 May 1998
On May 12, Puerto Ricans marked the 100th anniversary of the United States' bombardment of San Juan during the Spanish American War. Juan Mari Bras, a leading pro-independence and socialist leader, led a silent march through the streets of Old San Juan.
This event is part of a series of actions taking place this year marking 100 years of U.S. colonization and occupation of Puerto Rico.
The United States took Puerto Rico as war booty after its victory over Spain, which had ruled the island for four hundred years. Shortly before Spain was defeated, Admiral William T. Sampson, commanding the "Iowa," bombed the island's capital with 160 cannons and 1,362 projectiles.
The defending forces, most prominently Puerto Ricans, managed to keep the invaders at bay and did not surrender the city. It was a defeat for the U.S., albeit a temporary one.
Today, 100 years after the U.S. invasion, a series of events marking this anniversary will take place all over the island, culminating with a mass demonstration of all the pro-independence forces and progressive people in Guanica on July 25. The Hostos National Congress and the Puerto Rican Independence Party are both mobilizing for these actions.
For example, on July 4, Puerto Ricans will demonstrate against the U.S. Navy's occupation of Vieques. The U.S. military has been using Vieques Island as a testing ground for bombs and other weaponry, leaving the local population without land, peace or jobs. Fishing, the main industry, is no longer possible.
In addition to the independence movement's efforts to build the Guanica action, broad segments of the population are mobilizing against right-wing, pro-annexation Gov. Pedro Rosello.
University students are getting ready for a struggle against the government, which is threatening to cut education funding by $40 million. Instead, the money would go to "vouchers" for private schools. This is viewed as an attempt to raise tuition, eliminate faculty jobs, and at the same time privatize education. University of Puerto Rico students have also been supporting labor union actions against the government's attempts to privatize Puerto Rico's state-owned industry.
On May 17, the general congress of the Trade Union Unity Committee (CUS) met to discuss the unions' strategy. "The time has come for the workers to establish effective strategies to counter the changes and situations that affect them," said Ramon Luis Fuentes, spokesperson for the CUS, "without discarding the possibility to again call for a national strike if the government goes ahead with its plans against the people."
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