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When the news of an anti-drug radar in Puerto Rico first came out about three years ago, I expressed in this space a warm welcome to this project, based on the fact that our island is sinking in a sea of drugs.

I pointed out that a July 21, 1995, New York Times article said that Puerto Rico "is reeling under a scourge of drugs and rising gang violence." It further said that "Puerto Rico, which since the late 1980s has grown into a major gateway to the United States for South American drugs, now functions as the Caribbean’s drug-smuggling hub, transforming the island into a place that is experiencing the waves of violence and social ills associated with the drug world."

In proposing a $16 billion program to crack down on drug trafficking, President Clinton linked the anti-drug radar system as a principal means to break the foreign and domestic drug source supply and disable drug trafficking in the Caribbean, which is considered the second most significant smuggling route into the U.S. mainland. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the White House report, are being devastated by drugs. The U.S.-Mexican border is considered to have the greatest flow of illegal drugs into the United States.

The above being the case–and we well know it is–the anti-drug radar system should be more than welcome now that the U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to have the system operating in Puerto Rico (with the transmitter on Vieques and the receiver at Fort Allen in the municipality of Juana Díaz) by September 1998. All efforts are being made to bring the facts regarding the system to the people of Puerto Rico and put an end to the misinformation and disinformation on said system. Unfortunately, the separatist sectors, which oppose anything American (except dollars from Washington), have been advocating that U.S. Army and Navy installations on the island be closed, as well as calling for the elimination here of the federal court and other federal agencies. They will continue to misinform, and will never accept the facts surrounding the anti-drug radar system. It should be noted that these sectors which have been advocating independence for Puerto Rico, have obtained for decades at the polls, at the most, only 5 percent of the votes out of a voting population of about 1.5 million. But there are people who are genuinely concerned about the possible damaging effects of an anti-drug installation and it is to them that this is addressed. It is with them that I wish to share the following information I have received recently from reliable sources on the anti-drug radar system, called Relocatable Over-the-Horizon Radar, referred to as ROTHR.

The following are the four main points to keep in mind:

1. ROTHR is the third leg of national counter narcotics over-the-horizon radar system, and the most important piece because it covers the drug-producing countries. When the complete system is in place, drug-carrying aircraft will be tracked from shortly after takeoff. This will permit early identification of suspect tracks, longer tracking, and therefore more time for law enforcement agencies to react and get in position to intercept and seize contraband drugs. The returning aircraft will be tracked back to their point of origin, which will assist in obtaining arrests and aircraft seizures in collaboration with national forces.

2. The users of the information will be law enforcement agencies. The information from the radars is integrated at the operational center in Chesapeake, Virginia. Known tracks are eliminated there. Suspect tracks are sent to the Joint Interagency Task Force East (JIATF East) in Key West, where intelligence from all the participating agencies, such as the FBI, Customs, etc., is introduced and appropriate law enforcement agencies are notified. JIATF East is commanded by a U.S. Coast Guard Admiral, who coordinates with national and local law enforcement agencies to effect seizure and arrest.

3. The two-radar system in place now is not as efficient as it can be. Nevertheless, it has played an important role in the seizure of over $6 billion worth of cocaine being moved by air. With the third leg in place, the movement of drugs by air to Puerto Rico and through Puerto Rico to the United States will become exponentially more difficult for the narcotraffickers.

4. There is absolutely no negative impact from ROTHR on health or the environment. The system will comply (and has to comply) with national standards set by the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and accepted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and adopted by NATO countries.

At the receiver site at Fort Allen there is no emission of energy. The antenna is only a receiver, just like a radio is only a receiver.

At the transmitter site, energy outside the fenced area of the transmitter antenna will be 50 times less than the maximum level of energy set by IEEE. Even inside the fence, technicians working on the system will receive 10 times less energy than the maximum set by IEEE. There are not two different standards of safety. Both levels are completely safe.

Under the aforementioned undeniable facts, those in Puerto Rico who are concerned about the health of our people, especially our youth, and who wish to put an end to the agony, suffering and mourning in the homes in Puerto Rico–on an almost daily basis–brought about mainly by drug-trafficking and consumption, should more than welcome the proposed anti-drug radar system. This is the stand to be taken by all law-abiding people of Puerto Rico and by those who have the best interests of this island and its society at heart.


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