Thursday, March 4, 2010

con mi M-16

I've been really busy recently trying to keep up with all the news coming out of Puerto Rico about the recent activation of the National Guard to fight "crime" on the island.  Anyway, this song has been playing on a constant loop in my head as I ponder all ways in which the Puerto Rican National Guard is deployed as an answer to high levels of crime among the island's idled youth population.  Rather than real reform aimed at providing social and economic opportunities for Puerto Rico's youth sector, the commonwealth government tries to push kids into military service as a way to make money or stay out of jail.  Those "civilian soldiers" are then deployed on the streets of Puerto Rico's urban centers to intimidate and police their peers, or perhaps worse are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

It's incredible to me the way that the National Guard is repeatedly offered as a solution to the problem of youth involvement within the informal economy and the crime associated with it.  The current administration is following in the failed footsteps of its predecessors by not addressing the lack of employment and educational opportunities for many Puerto Rican youths.  Instead, the Fortuño administration is trying to ram more neoliberal reforms down the throats of the people, only exacerbating the problem. 

This is of course not to say that the National Guard was deployed to only manage youth populations.  As union leaders have pointed out, the Governor signed the executive order to mobilize the National Guard, shortly after the unions announced their intention to strike (although they weren't activated until recently).  Clearly, the Guard is an attempt to manage these ruptures caused by Fortuño's neoliberal agenda, but nonetheless it is important to remain vigilant of the ways the National Guard is in this moment targeting youth, either on the streets or as a get out of jail free card.

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