Friday, September 27, 2013
Does Viesques have a right to blame the US?
The United States and its close commonwealth, Puerto Rico, have existed fairly harmoniously for the past several decades; however, the several residents of the island of Viesques have filed a petition via the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by the National Lawyers Guild and many other groups reporting humans rights violations that have occurred from past activity by the Navy, who previously used the island for nearly six decades conducting a number of bomb tests. The Navy left the island in 2003 after an incident in 1999 when a 500-pound bomb killed a security guard. Since the United States’s departure, the Navy has been cleaning the island by removing scrap metal and destroying munitions. However, the locals of the island do not believe that the cleanup efforts of the Navy have been sufficient enough as ten residents with relatives with cancer or some other illness had the petition filed on their behalf.
In this case, the source of all these problems doesn’t only derive itself from human rights, but science plays a significant role in this case. The source of these illnesses is not 100% known. If there was some way to scientifically identify the exact cause of their illness, only at that point could we determine whether or not it was a human rights violation of the US not thoroughly enough holding up their end of the bargain to clean the damage caused by these bomb tests or not.
Assuming that indeed the US did not carry out the plans as well as the island had hoped, one could possibly consider this a definite violation of the rights of the Viesques locals. Although the United States has championed trying to better the lives Americans by providing welfare and other benefits, they seem to be neglecting those from within their boundaries. On the flip side, if the illnesses cannot be directly linked to the chemical fallout of the bomb tests and instead stem from genetics, one could say that these Viesques residents are completely overreacting to their situation because even normally healthy people, with the wrong genes, sometimes have to deal with these genetic disorders that may turn into cancer and other deadly diseases.
In the end, the case of the Viesques chemical fallout is an ambiguous subject. Although it is true that the fallout may be the root of the rising amounts of disease, which entails that the United States isn’t doing enough to protect their fundamental rights of living in a safe environment, the aftereffects of the bomb tests may not even have any real consequences if the United States enacted on their promise to the islanders to clean up the damage done.