The second experiments, using biological and chemical
weapons, were performed by the
The military’s revelation of those tests more than a week
ago has added fuel to local demands that the
The U.S. Department of Defense admitted having conducted chemical and biological warfare experiments after complaints of ill health from 55 veterans, who claim to have served as guinea pigs in these tests.
The experiments were performed outdoors, meaning civilians
might also have been exposed to harmful chemical and biological agents, say
observers. Apart from Vieques, tests were also
In Vieques, the military sprayed trioctyl phosphate on troops at a firing range in May 1969. According to the local Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV), the substance can harm the skin, eyes and respiratory system, and is known to cause cancer in animals.
Since April 1999, Vieques has been the site of a prolonged and massive civil disobedience campaign against the U.S. Navy presence there.
Well over 1,000 activists have been arrested and imprisoned
for trespassing on the firing range, including actor Edward James Olmos, environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr., Reverend Al Sharpton and
Roosevelt Roads naval base in the town of
”This new evidence of the grave danger that the Navy and its training manoeuvres pose to the health of our people calls for an epidemiological study,” said Rafael Rivera Castano, a retired epidemiologist in Vieques.
”An executive order from (
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Anabelle
Rodriguez was to hold meetings last week with the government’s lobbyists in
The military tests came to light just as the independence movement began a campaign to persuade the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to change the name of an award named after a scientist that the movement accuses of conducting unethical medical experiments on Puerto Ricans.
The prize in question, the Cornelius P. Rhoads Scientific
Achievement Award, is given yearly to outstanding young cancer researchers. In
the 1930s, Rhoads worked in the
”In 1931 (Rhoads) used the Puerto Rican population as
guinea pigs, injecting patients with cancer cells without their knowledge”,
”At least 13 people died as a result of these experiments.”
In a letter that was prominently displayed by the local media last week, Rhoads openly bragged about killing Puerto Ricans. ”What the island needs is not public health work, but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population,” said the letter.
The letter also contained this opinion of Puerto Ricans, ”they are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere”.
According to the Internet newsletter ‘CounterPunch’, “Rhoads went on to head the U.S. Army Biological Weapons division and to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, where he oversaw radiation experiments on thousands of US citizens”.
In an Oct. 16 letter to the AACR,
”Clearly, establishing an award in honour of Dr. Josef Mengele would be a monumental insult to Jews, regardless of Dr. Mengele’s contributions to medicine,”, added Cumpiano, who represents the CRDV, a group of Vieques residents.
”Accordingly, regardless of Dr. Rhoads’ contributions in the field of cancer research, your organisation’s establishment of the ‘AACR-Cornelius P. Rhoads Memorial Award’ is either an unfortunate oversight or an egregious insult to the more than 8 million Puerto Ricans.”
You can blow out a candle,
but you can’t blow out a fire.
Once the flame begins to catch,
the wind will blow it higher.
· Peter Gabriel
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