Ten years after a United States War College report identified the Puerto Rican Independence Party for being the main opposition against using Puerto Rico as an island fortress, not only has that force not disappeared, but now this nation has transformed into more of a threat than a defense.
However, these new difficulties arise from the obvious failure to meet the strategic objectives that were assigned to Puerto Rico, destabilizing measures promoted by the very pro U.S. political elite and the structural problems of an artificial border established over one thousand kilometers from the real one for the surveillance of the maritime traffic routes towards Latin America.
Left behind were the “goals and objectives” referred to in the report – of The Strategic Investigation Project - that, in the face of the regional instability, Puerto Rico would have the triple function of “enhancing security at Home and abroad; promoting democracy and human rights; promoting prosperity.”
The first objective was neutralized by overreaching corruption as well as drugs and weapons smuggling, the later to such extent that Puerto Rico has become a paradise for smugglers from Texas, Florida, Georgia and even Ohio, according to the government’s own admission. The problem is of such magnitude that when NCM News asked for the reports on illegal weapons that leave from Puerto Rico, coronel Reinaldo Bermudez, chief of strategic operations, responded that the National Police does not deal with the problem.
However, so many millions of bullets are sold or disappear in the country annually as to be able to kill the entire population of the Antilles in just a few years.
The second objective came crashing down with the complaints of the assault on civil liberties.
These include the court cases about systemic abuses against the population by the National Police and the legislation to curtail civil rights. The measures range from jail sentences for peaceful protests to the jailing those who “disturb” individual legislators.
The measures to criminalize social protests do little to alter the perception that the parties and their leaders are not dignified to govern. Such is the discredit by the public that voter registration for the general elections in November increased by less than 33, 000 between January and June 30th _from 2,273,789 to 2, 306,769- which means that there would have to be over 100,000 new registrations in a little less than two months if the lists are to reach the level of 2,458,033 in the 2008 elections.
The third objective, the one about “prosperity”, slipped away first with the economic stagnation and later with the prolonged mind boggling free fall economic crisis during which the country has been de-capitalized, sources of employment shrink, the government avoids bankruptcy with questionable financial transactions and the financial press describes this island nation as the Greece of the Caribbean or just barely in a better position than Haiti
The report “The Role of Puerto Rico in the United States National Security Strategy” highlighted the “vital” use of this colony for naval installations, Army bases and even an information receiving center for the Central Intelligence Agency. It also pointed out that many of the protests against the Navy in Vieques, as well as the U.S. military presence in Puerto Rico is attributable to the Independence Party
That point of view was not able to dissuade the White House from closing the Navy base and Army reductions while the U.S. embassy in the Vatican paid homage to the PIP delegate Manuel Rodriguez Orellana and escorted him to a Rosary prayer ceremony with Pope Benedict XVI.
In recent years, the White House has closed the door to the PIP and the new strategies developed during the long period of the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) are the framework for the argument to remilitarize Puerto Rico by the present pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuno. The idea has at least partial support of the autonomist Alejandro Garcia Padilla, main opponent and favorite of President Barack Obama.
The consistency of this proposal, which seems to have the support of the Department of Homeland Security, with the new military doctrines and strategies, is at the same time its main controversial aspect.
For instance, the Army reports received by Congress this past June highlight the Southern Alliance Station, a floating installation in the Caribean, with the components of “irregular warfare” operations of the Special Forces, which constitutes a cornerstone of naval strategy for the Caribbean frontier.
Some of the same occurs with the global system of concentration camps and prisons developed by the Army. This system is based on a strategic vision about the alleged need of operations to stabilize countries in the Third World, impacted by overpopulation, the absence of legitimate mechanisms for law enforcement, insurrections and the competition for control of routes and scarce resources.
Those are military products for use in external war zones, but not within the U.S. Any fear about its application within its national boundaries has provoked concerns about political and legal consequences
Proposals consistent with such military focus, such as the new restrictions of the Penal Code and the elimination of the absolute right to bail has had the effect of strengthening the convening power of the PIP, which has unleashed a campaign under the slogan “Now it’s the people’ s time”. Likewise the new parties- Movement Sovereign Union, Party of the Working People and Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico- and even sectors of the very autonomists, have united to face off against such proposals.