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Puerto Rican antiwar protest

By Roberto Barreto | December 7, 2001 | Page 10

Some 100 protesters blocked the main gate of Fort Buchanan in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on November 19 to demonstrate against the war in Afghanistan and the presence of the U.S. Navy on the island of Vieques.

The demonstration was called by the Open Committee Against the War, a recently formed group that opposes the U.S. slaughter, rejects racism and calls for an end to the use of Puerto Rican soil and waters by the U.S. military.

A group of 40 counterprotesters organized by the Navy turned out to try to intimidate activists, but the antiwar demonstrators were not deterred.

While the protest was in progress, a military spokesperson in Fort Buchanan announced that base commander Gen. Alfredo Valenzuela has recommended the relocation of the U.S. Southern Command away from Puerto Rico because of a rise in "anti-American sentiment."

The announcement was a cause for celebration among the antiwar activists. The fact that the recommendation is being considered is testimony to the strength of the movement for the demilitarization of Vieques.

Activists feel that two years of marches, demonstrations, land occupations, civil disobedience and confrontations with soldiers and federal marshals are finally paying off.

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