Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico

By Paul Lewis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 18, 2007; Page A01

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The political activists, brown envelopes tucked under their arms, staked out the high school gates just after sunrise. When students emerged from the graffiti-scorched streets of the Rio Piedra neighborhood here and began streaming toward their school, the pro-independence advocates ripped open the envelopes and began handing the teens fliers emblazoned with the slogan: "Our youth should not go to war."

At the bottom of the leaflet was a tear sheet that students could sign and later hand to teachers, to request that students' personal contact information not be released to the U.S. Defense Department or to anyone involved in military recruiting.


"If the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, it's more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war," said Juan Dalmau, secretary general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). His efforts are saving the island's children from becoming "colonial cannon meat," he said.

As someone who has very close ties to Puerto Rico (waves hi!) and very strong feelings about the PIP, I'm glad to see that this subject is at least getting some play in the media.

It's a variant on the theme of "You can send him to die in the war, but he can't have a beer at the PX" chestnut. "You can send him to war, but he had and has no say in the representation of his "commonwealth" under the United States"

Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in the form of a Resident Commissioner, a nonvoting delegate, and the current Congress had returned the Commissioner's power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.[24] Because no federal elections are held in any of the unincorporated territories, Puerto Rico does not have electors in the U.S. Electoral College.