At the recent International Penal Law Symposium held by the Puerto Rico Bar Association between March 10 and 12 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, attorney Aleida Centeno Rodríguez lectured on unaccountability regarding violations to legislation protecting the island’s environment, including people’s health, since the enactment of the commonwealth Constitution in 1952. She spoke about evidence that chemical, electromagnetic, and nuclear radiation experiments were conducted extensively in Puerto Rico during the past 50 years, producing lethal results that have gone unpunished.
She presented recently disclosed Veterans Affairs Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documents indicating that between 1956 and 1968, the U.S. Department of Defense not only sprayed dioxin-powered herbicide Agent Orange on plants at El Yunque Rainforest, but used similar chemicals in experiments involving vegetation throughout the island in the 1950s and 1960.
The U.S. military sought to test effective herbicides and defoliants to be used in warfare, as was the case with Agent Orange, which was used by the U.S. military in South Vietnam and Cambodia during the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in thousands of illnesses and deaths among soldiers and civilians. Apparently the Agent Orange compound and other chemicals (herbicides and defoliants to be used in warfare) were tested in Luquillo and Las Marías. Herbicides and defoliants were also applied in “highly concentrated solutions” to vegetation in such locations as the Cerro Las Mesas and La Jagua experimental areas in Mayagüez, Joyuda Beach in Cabo Rojo, and Guánica Forest in 1956 and 1957. In 1967, the Dow Chemical Company was awarded a defense contract to test herbicides and defoliants on varying vegetation situations near Río Grande and Cerro Las Mesas in Mayagüez in 1967 and 1968. The chemicals included picloram, bromacil, pyriclor, and terbacil.
According to Centeno Rodríguez the chemicals were found to cause such illnesses as leukemia, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and prostate and respiratory cancers. She stated that without information, it is difficult to identify an environmental problem and the violations to the laws if “you don’t know about these situations?” These experiments have been carefully hidden from the public. For example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission tried in 2006 to get El Yunque off of the list of locations where nuclear radiation experiments were conducted, arguing that the radiation has dissipated since they took place in 1966.
Centeno Rodríguez cited the legislation for protecting the island’s environment and its people. As another example of unaccountability and defiance of these laws, she offered the example of electromagnetic contamination caused by experiments on the island, which produce more than 40,000 megahertz of energy at electromagnetic-generating facilities in Cayey, Aguada, and at the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope facility; the recommended exposure limit set by the U.N. is 10 megahertz for six minutes.
In Arecibo, the U.S. Department of Defense is operating HAARP ionospheric heater experiments generating energy ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 megahertz, a frequency that has been scientifically proven to cause long-term health problems to the surrounding population, including predisposition to suicide, according to the attorney. She does not think that it is a coincidence that 57 residents of Arecibo’s Barrio La Esperanza had committed suicide last year noting that the link between suicides and electromagnetism has been well-documented. In her lecture, Centeno Rodríguez stressed the need for an international tribunal to prosecute such environmental cases.
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Photo of the Arecibo Observatory (courtesy of the NAIC – Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF) from http://www.naic.edu/