by Mary Anne Grady Flores
Ithaca, NY 14850 1-607-280-8797
Ithaca Catholic Workers / Los Obreros Catolicos de Ithaca
“If you think one person can’t be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito” -War Resister’s League
“Si usted piensa que una persona no puede ser eficaz, nunca haz estado en la cama con un mosquito” Liga de Opositores de Guerra
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it” Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
“La protesta más allá de la ley no se aparta de la democracia, es absolutamente esencial para ella” Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness…
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction…And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” – Howard Zinn
Aljazeer a- look it up on line
The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gaza
Hon. Chairman Xavier Mendoza
Special Committee of 24
U.N. Hearings on Puerto Rico
United Nations, New York
Monday, June 22, 2015
Translators, please read only the large BOLD print.
Delegate members, I have 6 page copies for each of you, but will only read the bolded portion for the sake of time.
Honorable Chairman Mendoza and members of the U.N. Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization, I’m honored to join the distinguished delegation from Puerto Rico for the seventh time. I begin by stressing that the committee continue to demand that the General Assembly consider the question of decolonization of
Puerto Rico, as we near the 117th year of Puerto Rico’s struggle for independence. Through the UN General Assembly, the world will voice its support on this question of nationhood for Puerto Rico, as was done on behalf of the Palestinian State on Nov. 29th, 2012. Please continue to press for the liberation of Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera, held for 34 years!
I am Mary Anne Grady Flores of the Ithaca Catholic Workers Vieques Support Group, a faith based solidarity group supporting all Puerto Ricans the right of self determination and independence from the US. Our group has worked in Puerto Rico with the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, the Socialist Front, and the Convent of Jesus the Mediator in Bayamon, P.R..
This year marks the twelvth anniversary of the US Navy ending its bombing practice in Vieques. I thank this committee for past resolutions acknowledging
the 4 demands of the Vieques people:
1 -DE-MILITARIZATION –That the Navy stop detonations of unexploded ordinances and call for the complete removal of all ordinances from the bombing practice zone.
2- DE-CONTAMINATION – We urge the immediate removal of all hazardous materials, including radioactive depleted uranium dust and shells, and demand an end to all burning in the impact zone.
3-DEVOLUTION – We call for the immediate return of the lands now occupied by the Department of Fish and Wildlife to their rightful owners, the people of Vieques.
4- DEVELOPMENT – We call for the inclusion of the citizens of Vieques at the table for the planning and development of their island. We demand a moratorium on sale of the Vieques lands to big developers.
Please bear with me as I cite previously shared information.
Roosevelt Roads US military base in Puerto Rico became the US point of control in the western hemisphere and 6 miles away, Vieques became the testing ground and jump off point for every US invasion throughout Latin America since 1945.
Every weapon system created by the US was tried and tested in Vieques. This included napalm, agent orange and chemical cocktails, left behind in the soil, with detonations redistributing the dust up into the air by 2,000 meters. The latest was depleted uranium (DU), prized for its density. DU used against soldiers and civilian populations had been condemned by the UN’s Sub-Commission on Human Rights.
During the 1990’s, the A-10 Warthog plane fired 3,900 rounds DU tipped munitions in ONE MINUTE! In 2001, preparing for the Afghan attack, 20,000 US troops trained in Vieques, including using 500 lb Bunker Buster Bombs, non-fissionable nuclear weapons; bombs coated with DU designed to tear through mountains and destroy “the enemy” in Afghanistan.
D.U. turns into a fine radioactive dust, with particles becoming smaller than 1/100th to 1/1000th of a micron, causing leukemia, nerve damage, cancers, and many forms of illness. It changes the genetic code causing deformities that will effect every generation into the future.
The people of Vieques are suffering today because of detonations of unexploded bombs left after 60 years of military practice of war games. Combined trade winds and continued detonations carry poisons to the residents living downwind, leaving behind a yet unknown legacy of death from the radioactive and heavy metal dust of D.U. with a half life of 4.5 billion years, along with other munitions.
The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry or ATSDR Report issued on December 8, 2011 states that no new data was collected in relation to military
contamination in Vieques. It reviews 42 previous studies conducted on contamination and health in Vieques, recognizing the high incidences of many illnesses in Vieques including 30% higher cancer rate than P.R.
There is still no hospital in Vieques to provide cancer treatment, and no records of birth defects. Women travel 1 1/2 hours to the main island to give birth. Viequense Luz Rivera calls the ferry “the hospital ferry”, shuttling people to hospital and doctor visits.
Ironically, as Viequenses suffer high cancer rates, as many Puerto Ricans do, there are very lucrative sales of cancer drugs being exported to the U.S. and Europe. According to a pilot of one of the 2 massive shipping lines, Horizon and Sea Star, US pharmacuticals, Pfier and Lilly, ship cancer drugs from Puerto Rico in massive quantities. One high V.I.P. ship container (placed on the back of a 40 ft. tractor trailer truck) can be insured for up to $130 million! One syringe containing the crème de la crème cancer drug can cost up to $1,600 per injection. Each cargo ship carries tens, or hundreds of containers.All this medicine is produced by Puerto Rican labor and exported, with practically no profits or drugs made available for Puerto Ricans.
I was in Vieques in 2013 for the 10th anniversary of the US Navy ending its practice bombing. It was a time of celebration of defeating the strongest military in the world, but the reality is that Vieques has not had it’s four demands fulfilled. The trip was bitter sweet.
1,500 people put their lives at risk, going into the impact area during bombing practice, forcing the Navy to stop bombing by the nonviolent collective will of the Puerto Rican people.
On May 4th, 2013 a group of us went to a tiny key island across from the bombing zone called Cayo La Yayi, to commemorate the struggle of civil resistance which we had participated in.
As our small fisherman’s boat rounded the shore line we were shocked by what we saw! Approximately 22 yachts, some 3 tiers high, anchored along the north shore of the bombing zone with a beach party in full swing. It was an insult knowing that the Vieques fishermen are prevented from fishing there by the US Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, yet made available as playground for the rich.
As we neared our destination, we smelled something aweful coming from inside the bombing area. I joined two journalists in
the impact area, Humberto Trias and Carlos Perez. Humberto Trias photos are here. This is the Youtube video of the bombing zone by Carlos Perez. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEyFjgxmETg&feature=em-share_video_user
My lungs and eyes burned as I quickly walked along a road opening into a field the size of 4 baseball diamonds. A huge mound of tires burned, the source of smoke. Bombs were scattered in piles under and near the burning tires and elsewhere littering the ground. Some bombs were hollow, but some had solid interiors.
My eyes took in the burnt landscape and perimeter hills with charred trees that no longer greened. My lungs filled with the acrid smell of burning rubber mixed with contaminants. A policy of slash and burn is used to find bombs left behind in the landscape and then detonated.
By 2013, only 5% of the bombs and contamination had been cleared! 95% of the toxic mix sits in the soil and decomposing bombs contaminate the waters.
According to U.P.R. Dr. Jorge Colon, the Navy is not being truthful about the availability of technology for clean up of bombs left in Vieques’ waters, saying they must wait another 5 years! Dr. James Porter, a Yale trained coral reef expert’s video shows his instrument invented to lift 2,000 lb bombs from the sea bed, called the Underwater Ordinance Remover.
(The Georgia University Professor Porter’s TED talk and video is A MUST
SEE, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdTFo0nxdTc )
According to Dr. Porter, there is a direct corralation between T.N.T. found in coral reef of Vieques, in sea urchin, and the people of Vieques. This is ONLY found in one source. MUNITIONS! This is called point source pollution.
According to U.P.R. epedimiologist, Dr Cruz Maria Nazario, data from the Department of Health of Puerto Rico concludes that: 1st – Excess cancer was significantly higher than expected in Vieques compared to Puerto Rico; 2nd- The trend of increased risk of cancer in Vieques was correlated to the intensification of the practices of the US Navy and 3rd- Vieques children 10 to 19 years had an excess risk of 250% compared to children in Puerto Rico. We recommend an
investigation to identify the cause or causes of excess cancer in Vieques since the observed risks exceeded alert levels.
The people of Vieques say: “For us, environmental protection is a matter of human rights.”
All the abuses you have heard today are but a tiny portion of examples of the crime of U.S. colonialism.
I close now, urging this committee once again insist that the US Navy pay restitution, including medical expenses and MEET
THE FOUR DEMANDS OF THE PEOPLE OF VIEQUES
3- DEVOLUTION –
4- DEVELOPMENT – and someday soon this will be done with Viequenses and Puerto Ricans at the table, in the context of a free and independent nation!
Thank you for your attention!
Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
Mary Anne Grady Flores
Ithaca Catholic Worker
Vieques Support Group
Ithaca, NY 14850