Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy

2 May

Cross Posted from Democracy Now!:

“While the cleanup has taken 10 years so far, the U.S. military is only scratching the surface.” – Vieques activist

 

On the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, thousands are commemorating the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Navy stopped using their home as a bombing range. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. At the current cleanup rate, the Navy says, it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. A fisherman recently discovered a giant unexploded bomb underwater. The island of about 10,000 people also lacks a hospital to treat illnesses such as asthma and cancer that may be attributed to the military’s former bombing activity. “We believe the military is really not interested in cleaning up Vieques and rather interested in continuing to punish Vieques for having thrown the U.S. Navy out in 2003,” says Robert Rabin of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. “This is a process that we believe is happening with no real supervision, no genuine community participation.”

Will new anti-protest laws in Puerto Rico benefit the Energy Empire?

13 Aug

compiled by panagioti, Earth First! Journal collective

Last week, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s police chief and justice secretary, saying the island’s new penal code violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

The lawsuit came a week after Governor Luis Fortuno approved the new code that restricts certain types of protests and establishes a three-year prison sentence for violators.

Demonstrators march on May Day 2011 in a protest against the proposed construction of a gas pipeline in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Photograph: Ricardo Alcaraz/AP

“The statute is evidently intended to suppress speech, to stop people from protesting against government policies,” William Ramirez, local ACLU director, said Tuesday.

These policies include the push for a new gas pipline, the so-called Via Verde (Green Way), through environmentally sensitive areas, which has seen mass opposition over the past year. Opponents of the government-owned project, proposed by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) call the project “el tubo de la muerte” (the tube of death).

A provision in the new code restricts protests that block public buildings and interfere with government, presumably including agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers, who was exposed for failing to release a Spanish version of a draft environmental assessment in late 2011 Continue reading

Puerto Rican Pipeline Protests Extend to New York

10 Jun

NEW YORK—Local Puerto Rican leaders and activists gathered outside Federal Plaza on Thursday to demand that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deny the permits for a proposed gas pipeline requested by the Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority (PREPA).

“This gas pipeline project being proposed for Puerto Rico is very destructive, very costly, and it’s unnecessary,” said David Galarza, organizer of the protest. Mr. Galarza organized a group called NY Against PR Gas Pipeline to rally support from New York City Puerto Ricans.

The protest comes days before the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which has been dedicated to the country’s natural environment. The parade will march up Fifth Avenue in Midtown on Sunday, June 12, beginning at 11 a.m.

“This 92-mile gas pipeline project is going to run through the central mountain range, up and down rivers, up and down mountains, through communities, by the schools, by homes, [and] near the beachfront. It’s going to displace thousands of people from their homes,” Galarza added.

The 24-inch diameter pipeline would cut through 92 miles of the roughly 100-mile-long island. Dubbed Via Verde (Green Way) by the Puerto Rican government, but referred to as Via de la Muerte (Death’s Way) by those in opposition of the project, the proposed pipeline traverses Puerto Rico from the EcoElectrica Liquid Natural Gas Terminal to the northern thermoelectric power plants, affecting some 200,000 Puerto Ricans.

“The people of Puerto Rico have already decided that this is not what they want in their yard, in their home. President Obama is about to visit Puerto Rico. He’s looking for alternative energy sources. What better source of alternative energy than the island that has sun, that has air, [and] that has water. There are so many different ways that energy can be produced and this is what they have decided to do,” said Martha Loriano, representative from the New York City Chapter of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights.

President Obama will be the first U.S. President, since John F. Kennedy, to visit Puerto Rico in half a century next Tuesday.

The project faces fierce public opposition in the mainland. A May 1 protest this year drew over 30,000 protesters, despite torrential rain. According to a March 11 poll by El Nuevo Dia, 70 percent of the citizens of Puerto Rico oppose the project.

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