Après Maria, c’est à l’U.S. Army d'envahir Porto-Rico

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Après Maria, c’est à l’U.S. Army d'envahir Porto-Rico

Le début de la saison des ouragans a soulevé bien des émotions catastrophistes dans les Caraïbes et aux USA, soulevant par conséquent bien des hypothèses complotistes chez les climatosceptiques. Ces derniers noteront que la suite montre par contre un certain désintérêt, ce qui tendrait à prouver que le complot est assez mal bidouillé. Personne ne prête donc véritablement attention à l’île de Porto-Rico, qui est rattachée aux USA sans en faire partie, et où les dévastations et la situation d’insécurité générale suivant l’ouragan Maria ont conduit le gouvernement fédéral à ordonner une véritable invasion militaire. En fait, il s’agit de forces de renfort puisqu’il y déjà 1.500 soldats de la Garde Nationale de Porto-Rico qui sont déployés en situation opérationnelle.

Les renforts portent sur plusieurs milliers d’hommes, tant de l’US Army que de Gardes Nationales d’autres États. L’ensemble est placé sous le commandement du Brigadier General Richard Kim, actuellement adjoint au chef du commandement militaire du territoire national (Northern Commandant) et qui vient d’assumer des commandements opérationnels en Irak et en Afghanistan. On peut considérer que l’île est placée dans une situation d’état de siège militaire puisque Kim est nommé commandant de toutes les forces disponibles contribuant à l’effort en cours, – selon une autorité qui le place au-dessus du gouverneur de l’île, y compris des agences militaires comme le détachement de la FEMA à Porto-Rico, –et en situation d’autorité absolue exerçant tous les pouvoirs en régime d’état de siège.

L’article de WSWS.org du 29 septembre 2017 qui analyse cette mesure qui vient d’être décidée par Trump la présente comme une véritable “invasion” de l’île, et la plus considérable de son histoire. La situation de l’île est marquée par de considérables à-coups, et notamment une histoire complexe depuis que l’Espagne a abandonné sa tutelle en 1898 après avoir été vaincu par les USA dans une guerre essentiellement centrée sur Cuba. Le statut par rapport aux USA est toujours resté incertain, cette situation complexe étant souvent l’occasion de conflits et d’interventions militaires US. Le dernier acte en date est celui du référendum aux résultats étonnants : « En 2017, un référendum non contraignant sur le statut de Porto Rico a lieu, alors que le territoire, toujours lourdement endetté, subit une politique d'austérité. Le rattachement aux États-Unis est choisi par 97 % des votants portoricains, mais le référendum est largement boycotté : le taux de participation est de 22,7 %. »

Pour WSWS.org, cette intervention est donc bien une “invasion” dont le but est d’abord de prévenir une explosion sociale. La situation économique et sociale est caractérisée par un énorme chômage et une extraordinaire disparité de revenus entre l’“élite“ locale et la population ; les dégâts terribles et la situation de chaos créés par Maria ont exacerbé la probabilité de troubles. Les forces armées US y jouent donc leur rôle de stabilisation par la force armée agissant de manière totalement arbitraire, mais appuyées parr toutes les autorit »s locales qui sont complètement acquises au Système et à la corruption washingtonienne.

dde.org

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As popular anger builds, US sends military to Puerto Rico

On Thursday, September 28, the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, was dispatched toward Puerto Rico as part of the plan for military intervention in the island. Although the move has been presented by the Trump administration as a necessary response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, it is chiefly aimed at containing potential civil unrest.

In addition to the 1,500 troops of the Puerto Rican National Guard already involved in rescue efforts, Governor Ricardo Roselló announced that thousands more US Army and National Guard soldiers will be sent. This will be the largest US military intervention in Puerto Rican history, according to government officials.

The ostensible purpose of the military operation is to make up for the collapse in logistics and physical infrastructure that has left vital supplies sitting in Puerto Rican ports with no means of getting to the people in the island’s interior. Adding to the shortages of fuel and trucks, damaged roads and a totally destroyed electrical grid, there is also a shortage of truck drivers.

Some 15,000 people are currently in shelters, and thousands more are being sheltered by their families or are virtually homeless in what remains of their homes, lacking water, food and medical care.

There is growing concern of epidemics in the coming weeks, from highly toxic sewage, contaminated floodwaters and an exploding mosquito population.

Even before Hurriance Irma and Maria struggle, there existed widespread anger among Puerto Rican workers from the effects of the profound recession and financial crisis affecting the island. On August 30, 20 days before Hurricane Maria, hundreds of Puerto Rican workers marched, denouncing austerity measures, layoffs, and attacks on pension rights mandated by the Financial Oversight and Management Board appointed on behalf of Wall Street by the Obama administration, and currently in charge of the island’s finances.

Puerto Rico ranks as one of the five most socially unequal societies on the planet. While less than one-third of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million inhabitants have formal jobs, there were more luxury Porches than in any other country in the Americas, according to a United Nations study. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans participate in the informal job market (by some estimates the informal sector represents one-third of Puerto Rico’s economy) and depend on food stamps and other forms of welfare.

Alongside destroyed homes and apartment buildings destroyed by the hurricane there are empty homes and luxury apartments owned by the very wealthy.

The military effort includes several high-ranking military officers and is under the command of Brigadier General Richard Kim, whose previous tenure includes combat tours in Iraq, and, most recently in Afghanistan. He is currently Deputy Commanding General of the United States Army North division. He will be in charge of the entire US “recovery” operation in Puerto Rico, with responsibility over the military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other government agencies, and the private sector.

Kim effectively will rule as proconsul over Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló and civilian authorities.

The decision by the Trump administration to send in the military follows a more than two-week delay by the US Congress to provide material aid to the US colonial territory. The hurricane wreaked its destruction on September 20 and 21, and in place of promised assistance from FEMA, the US Department of Defense is putting together an operational command center for General Kim in San Juan luxury hotels.

In the manner of a banana republic, Puerto Rico’s political leaders responded almost in unison to praise President Trump for his decision to militarize the recovery effort. Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon, leader of the ruling New Progressive Party (pro-statehood) hailed the operation and assured her listeners that President Trump had pledged himself to the reconstruction of the island even before hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

Gonzalez Colon, the current representative of the Rosselló administration in Washington, lavishly thanked Trump for his “support” during this crisis and for appointing General Kim.

Alejandro de la Campa, who heads FEMA in Puerto Rico, promised that the US military would also be assigned to the restoration of electricity throughout Puerto Rico, and that within the next few days Puerto Rico’s electric authority (AEE) would coordinate with the military to carry out this task. The state-owned utility has been the target of privatization and suffered from years of layoffs, budget cutting and lack of maintenance, leaving it vulnerable to the storms.

As with Haiti in 2010, what is surely guiding the decision to impose military control over Puerto Rico is the concern that the desperate conditions that Puerto Ricans now confront will trigger a social explosion. The military presence serves to contain the masses and to protect the profit interests of banks and corporations.

With every passing day, conditions become ever more desperate. Adding to the shortages of essential and vital supplies, water, food, fuel, and medicines, there is also a shortage of cash: banks are closed; long queues form at the few working ATMs that are still functioning and have not run out of cash. CNN spoke to Edna Escabi, a visitor from Phoenix, Arizona, stuck at the San Juan airport, who tried to use two ATMs that were out of cash. “I am very upset, very uptight; I have been crying a lot. Not even a movie could produce what we are going through.”

The militarization of the relief efforts in Puerto Rico bring to mind the military occupation of Haiti, in the aftermath of the earthquake of January 2010. Its main purpose was to buttress and protect the government of President René Préval, and safeguard the interests of US imperialism in that impoverished nation.

That expeditionary force in fact was an obstacle to relief and reconstruction efforts and left Haiti six months later

Rafael Azul (WSWS.org)

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