09:12 GMT +314 October 2019
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    In this July 24, 2016 file photo, a US military personal stands guard during a graduation ceremony for Afghan troops, in Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand province, Afghanistan.

    Young Puerto Ricans Are 'Meat Shield' for US Troops - Activist

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    Puerto Rico is not only experiencing tough financial control by the US, but it has a disputable status with regard to its sovereignty. Due to insufficient employment and a lack of information, young Puerto Ricans are being recruited by the Pentagon.

    Sonia Santiago Hernández, the founder of the group “Mothers Against War”, which has risen against the practice, shared her story in an interview with Sputnik.

    15 years ago, her son, a student of a pedagogical university, became a part of the US military, without letting his parents know, and who previously voiced a negative approach to the US’ presence in Puerto Rico. It happened in 2003, when shortly after the occupation of Afghanistan, Washington decided to set its foot in Iraq under the pretext that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction.

    “My son was one of the first batch of servicemen, who entered Iraq on 19 March 2003 in order to gain possession of oil. He spent 18 months in Iraq, and I chose to turn my sufferings into action, to issue a warning for young Puerto Ricans”, she noted.

    After the Middle East campaign, Sonia’s son became “absolutely crippled”. The battlefield experience triggered post-traumatic stress syndrome, characterised by such symptoms as insomnia, perpetual nightmares, anxiety, and nervousness. Sonia, who is a qualified psychologist, underscored that those who come back with such symptoms frequently have “no learning and emotional ability to study and concentrate on certain things”, with many choosing to commit suicide.

    Separately, her son suffers from “a musculoskeletal injury, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis” due to non-compliance with protocols for the Siberian plague vaccine.

    Others suffer from craniocerebral injuries caused by proximity to explosions. When they return, sufficient medical assistance is not provided for them. There is only one hospital that serves the needs of all veterans of all wars all over the Caribbean, and it has no “traumatological room”, which renders it impossible to treat those who have sustained neurological injuries, the activist explained.

    READ MORE: Yankee Go Home: Iraqi Lawmakers Demand US Withdrawal From Their Country — Report

    According to different estimates, as many as 60,000 Puerto Ricans partook in World War II as part of the American troops. Citizens of the Caribbean island also fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

    “They used us like a meat shield. Thousands of Puerto Ricans died. And many of those, who ultimately survived, return crippled by war”, the campaigner stressed.

    On 10 December, the US military reserve set up a new Caribbean geographic command in Puerto Rico, which will unite five battalions. The decision to join them and simplify the system of command is justified from the point of view of speeding up reactions to emergencies, like the hurricane Maria in 2017. Local media also stressed that the build-up of the command will make it possible to inject as much as $285 million annually into the Puerto Rican economy.

    “I have no doubt that this is the US army’s agenda – that Puerto Ricans, who are fluent in Spanish, would participate if necessary in the aggression against Venezuela”, Ms Hernández made a point.

    Views and opinions expressed in the article are those of Sonia Santiago Hernández and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's official position.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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