8.18.2007

Independentistas Tap Puerto Rico's Anti-War Sentiment

Today's Washington Post article, Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico, reports on how the island's Independentistas are effectively campaigning against school-based recruitment for the Iraq War--and, in the process, renewing themselves as a political force.

"If the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, it's more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war." Juan Dalmau, PR Independence Party
Unbelievably, President Bush's education act, No Child Left Behind, includes a provision allowing U.S. military officials to directly recruit 16, 17 and 18 year olds enrolled in high schools receiving federal aid. Since the schools targeted for the federal aid enroll the bulk of the nation's disadvantaged and children of color, military recruiters have disproportionate access to such children, including almost all of Puerto Rico's high schoolers.

However, the law does contain an 'opt out' clause. That is, a parent wanting to keep military recruiters away from their child can do so by completing an 'opt out' form. As you can imagine, it's a right few parents of disadvantaged high schoolers know about.

However, the Independentista Party of Puerto Rico, in alliance with Madres Contra La Guerra (Mothers Against War), have made it their business to inform parents of Puerto Rico's highschoolers of this right and to encourage them to opt out.

The result thus far is that the U.S. War Recruiters are officially barred from soliciting 57%, or 65,000, of the island's 10th, 11th and 12th gradeers.

The Independentistas are mining a rich vein of discontent as fully 75% Puerto Rico's residents are now opposed to the US-Iraq War.