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The insular Cases and American Empire

The insular Cases and American Empire - CHAPTER 8 The...

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CHAPTER 8 The Insular Cases and American Empire Take up the White Man's burden— Send forth the ben ye breed— Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captive's need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild— Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child. R UDYARD K IPLING, "The White Man's Burden," 1899 Today, employees of clothing manufacturers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands may receive less than $3.05 an hour for their labor. That comes to about 6o percent of the U.S. minimum wage. Yet persons working for the Gap, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, Sears, Calvin Klein, the Limited, Liz Claiborne, Target, J. Crew, and other clothing manufacturers sew "Made in the U.S.A." labels into their garments. If the Northern Marianas is a ter- ritory of the United States and if the Northern Marianans, known as Chamorros, are U.S. citizens, though, how can labor policy in the Northern Marianas defy U.S. federal law? On July 7, 2003, Hector "Gordo" Acosta Martinez and Joel Rivera Alejandro, both Puerto Ricans, were brought to trial for kidnapping and killing Jorge Hernandez Diaz on the evening of February 1 r, 1998. The two men kidnapped Mr. Hernandez and then, when they found out that authorities were investigating the kidnapping — con- trary to their demands— retaliated by shooting Mr. Hernandez, cut- ting off his head and limbs, and leaving his head and body parts on the roadside. U.S. prosecutors in Puerto Rico invoked the 1994 Fed- eral Death Penalty Act and asked that both men be put to death. Had Mr. Martinez and Mr. Rivera been found guilty, they would have been executed by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Indiana. Yet the Puerto Rican Constitution of 1952, which established Puerto Rico as a corn- 1 212 } monwealth of the United States and represents a compact between Puerto Rico and the United States, prohibits the death penalty. How, then, can U.S. attorneys ask for the death penalty? As of May r, 2006, thirty-six troops from the United States' terri- tories have died in Iraq while serving in the U.S. armed forces: twenty- two from Puerto Rico, three from the Virgin Islands, three from Guam, three from the Northern Marianas, and five from American Samoa. This total number of deaths comes to more fatalities than that of twenty-six of the fifty states. Yet in the summer of zoo+ well after the war started, athletes from Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa — although not the Northern Marianas—for a little more than a two-week period competed against the United States in the Olympic Games. If residents of the U.S. territories are U.S. cit- izens, and American Samoans are U.S. nationals, who are fighting and dying for the United States of America, how can they, at the same time, be playing against the United States as foreign athletes in international competitions?
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