[News] Next Target Puerto Rico? - the Pentagon's Operation Borinquen

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 12 13:58:36 EDT 2015


March 12, 2015
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/
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The Repressive Message of the Pentagon's “Operation Borinquen Response”


  Next Target Puerto Rico?

by CARLOS BORRERO

The significance of a recently divulged plan of the Pentagon to carry 
out military exercises in Puerto Rico under the name “Operation 
Borinquen Response” between the 14^th and 21^st of this month must not 
be underestimated. On the pretext of the need to prepare for a natural 
disaster, US imperialism has cynically prepared a series of military 
maneuvers for Puerto Rico in which more than 1,000 troops from the 
island, National Guard troops from West Virginia, Washington, Tennessee, 
Vermont and Nebraska, as well as international observers from Honduras 
and the Dominican Republic are slated to participate.[1] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_edn1>

This military deployment does not represent an isolated phenomenon. 
Rather, it is an extension of the policy of increased militarization of 
US society to its colony in anticipation of an intensification of mass 
discontent. In the past several years there have been a number of 
similar military simulations based on urban warfare scenarios carried 
out in US cities such as Houston, Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul. These 
exercises have included the deployment of military aircraft such as 
Blackhawk helicopters as well as heavily armed paratroopers into 
residential areas. Indeed, Obama added a key piece to the legal 
architecture for this militarization of US society with the signing of 
the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which essentially 
repealed what remained of the Posse Comitatus statute that made the 
deployment of US armed forces on US soil illegal during times of peace. 
In this way, this Nobel Peace laureate has expanded the militarist 
policies of the previous administration both domestically and abroad.

Another critical component of this militarization of US society in 
recent years has been the supply of military grade equipment and weapons 
to urban police forces through the Department of Homeland Security. The 
brutal repression unleashed upon protesters in Ferguson, Missouri last 
year, as well as the recent revelations by /The Guardian/ of the 
existence of secret prisons or ‘black sites’, such as the now infamous 
Homan Square[2] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_edn2>, 
maintained by the Chicago Police in which the torture of civilians has 
been carried out are just two patent examples of this tendency.

In an age of the historical decline of its system, the only solution 
proposed by the capitalist class is war, both against the working masses 
within national borders and foreign rivals abroad. In fact, the practice 
of domestic military exercises is consistent with the recommendations 
made in a recent Pentagon study[3] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_edn3> 
that warns of the need to revise military doctrine in preparation for 
the eventuality of future interventions by the US Army in large urban 
areas. According to military theorists, the social and economic crises 
within so-called /megacities/, which they describe as ‘petri dishes’ for 
radicalism, will be particularly acute. The incipient wave of working 
class resistance, which is evidenced by recent strikes by west coast 
longshoremen and US refinery workers, coupled with the massive protests 
within working class communities of color subjected to brutal police 
repression, appear to be just the beginning of a new phase of intense 
class struggles within the center of world imperialism. As such, despite 
their rhetoric to the contrary, the strategists of US capitalism know 
very well that they are not immune to the type of social convulsions 
that have recently rocked other countries.

The objective conditions for popular opposition to the system have 
become particularly acute in Puerto Rico. Massive structural 
unemployment as well as economic stagnation over the past 8 years has 
highlighted the complete bankruptcy of the economic solutions imposed by 
the capitalists and their acolytes in the colony. In a recent report by 
the US Bureau of Labor Statistics it was revealed that in 2014 Puerto 
Rico registered the lowest labor participation rate in last 22 years, 
seeing a reduction of 37,000 people employed. It is a well known fact 
that this prolonged unemployment crisis has provoked a massive exodus of 
Puerto Ricans from the island, many of which are highly skilled, in what 
can only be described as /brain drain. /All of this is taking place 
within the context of a $70 Billion public debt, which represents almost 
70% of GDP, and serves as a pretext for a campaign of austerity measures 
carried out against the mass of working class Puerto Ricans. And in an 
effort to guarantee the steady transfer of wealth to the financial 
parasites of Wall Street as well as their junior partners in the colony, 
the colonial administration has recently proposed an increase to the 
consumption tax as part of what it cynically calls ‘tax reform’.

This panorama of social and economic crises increasingly provokes a 
popular questioning of all the political institutions within the colony. 
As such, the planned military exercises represent a policy of 
psychological intimidation being carried out in anticipation of a new 
wave of popular protests within a colonial society that is crumbling 
from within. From the perspective of US imperialism and its defenders 
within the colony, there is a concern that any political change that 
takes place within its colony be carried out under terms that are 
acceptable and consistent with its strategic interests.

Notwithstanding, the military exercises planned for Puerto Rico cannot 
only be understood within the context of a response to the deepening of 
the social crisis in the colony. It must also be understood as an 
imperative of US imperialism within the context of the sharpening of 
geopolitical conflicts. Undoubtedly, the recent rapprochement between 
Washington and Havana as well as the destabilizing campaign carried out 
against Venezuela form part of the same strategy of the US ruling class 
to reassert its hegemony in the hemisphere against the threat of 
emerging rivals like China.

There exists in recent Puerto Rican history a powerful precedent for 
popular opposition to US militarism in the struggle to remove the US 
Navy from the island of Vieques. The task of assessing the strengths and 
weaknesses of this experience now falls upon those popular forces most 
committed to the working masses. Their capacity to foster the 
reorganization of popular resistance and international solidarity 
against this most recent example of US militarism is more urgent than ever.

/*Carlos Borrero* is a New York-based writer./

* Notes.*

[1] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_ednref1> 
http://www.primerahora.com/noticias/puerto-rico/nota/anuncianmasivosimulacromilitarenpuertorico-1069556/

[2] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_ednref2> 
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/27/chicago-abusive-confinment-homan-square

[3] 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/12/next-target-puerto-rico/#_ednref3> 
http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/downloads/351235.pdf

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