By LUIS ALBERTO GONZALEZ
The local chapter of Mothers Against War called on Puerto Rico residents Wednesday to join worldwide protests on the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on Saturday to denounce that war and the one in Afghanistan.
Psychologist Sonia Santiago, a spokeswoman for the group, said its members will hold a protest in front of the Army recruitment center on Georgetti Street in Río Piedras starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday to denounce the negative effects of the wars on soldiers and their families.
"We have seen how our [sons and daughters] have had to serve more than one tour of duty in Iraq and the heavy toll this has claimed on their physical and emotional health," said Santiago, whose son served in the Iraq war. "Some soldiers return with a guilty conscience and stress problems because the Iraqis remind them of their families in Puerto Rico due to the ethnic, genetic and cultural [similarities]."
She noted that 101 Puerto Rican soldiers, 5,000 U.S. mainland soldiers and 1.3 million civilians have died since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2003 and 2001.
Santiago said the protest will be held in front of the military recruitment center because "it is at these places where our youth are fooled."
"Recruiters receive bonuses and a salary to sign up these young people, but they do this with deceit, not telling them the reality of what they will find," she said. "They even tell them they would not go to Iraq, but weeks later, with crash-course training, they are taken to war."
Santiago said she is disappointed with President Obama, who she noted has gone back on his pledge to end these wars. "Obama continues with the military agenda [of former President Bush] in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending $3 trillion to solely benefit war corporations," she said.
Several soldiers and their relatives will testify on their experience in the war zone. Such is the case with Mabel Hernández, who for weeks has not heard from her son who is stationed in Iraq. He has served in the military for three years, she said.
Apart from the physical and emotional injuries inflicted on soldiers and civilians, Santiago said, the human cost of the war has included the mass migration of 3 million people and the looting and destruction of museums, schools libraries and universities.http://www.prdailysun.com/news/Mothers-Against-War-urges-PR-to-protest-Mideast-wars