Puerto Rican doctors want Obama to clean up military contamination

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Thursday October 31, 2013 – Doctors in Puerto Rico have sent a letter to US President Barack Obama requesting him to launch by executive order the decontamination of Vieques and Culebra islands and provide adequate treatment for those harmed by the pollution.

The remedial work in the islands, used for decades as testing grounds by the US Army, would “be the best substantiation of your many times expressed concern for the wellbeing of all the Latino people living in the United States,” wrote Eduardo Ibarra, head of the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The professional body said it had communicated this same request to President Obama on previous occasions, without receiving an appropriate response.

The latest communication reminded the president that an adequate and permanent clean-up was never carried out on Vieques, which was used for experiments with live munitions and as a practice bombing range, and which left significant contamination.

“As is well known around the world, our pristine Islands of Vieques and Culebra were during more than half a century utilized by the armed forces of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to practice air to land, water to land and land to land live bombing and also as dumping grounds for military materials,” the letter says.The letter adds that a number of scientific studies have shown that “the population of those thin paradisiac islands have been the innocent victims of high exposure to extremely dangerous contaminants, particularly and conspicuously Mercury.

“As a direct consequence of such contamination of their environment, its population has shown unacceptable higher incidence and prevalence of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, cirrhosis and epilepsy,” the letter states.

The US Navy left Vieques a decade ago, and since then only five percent of the contaminants are said to have been removed. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)