Governor of Florida proposes state military force under his direct control
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday proposed the creation of a 200-member Florida State Guard, a military force that would be under his direct control. Announcing the $ 3.5 million proposal, DeSantis asserted that the force would be used to support “emergency response efforts in the event of hurricanes, natural disasters and other state emergencies.”
The State Guard, a revival of the force created during World War II to replace deployed National Guard troops and disbanded in 1947, will undoubtedly serve as an auxiliary force to suppress protests and strikes by workers and youth.
DeSantis has deployed more than 1,000 members of the Florida National Guard to help quell protests that erupted statewide in response to the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. On June 3, two days after heavily armed military police, on orders from Donald Trump, violently attacked protesters gathered in front of the White House, DeSantis sent 500 more guards to Washington DC at the behest of the Secretary of Defense of the United States. era, Mark Esper.
Under Florida’s “military affairs” statute, DeSantis could deploy state guard “to assist civilian authorities in maintaining law and order.” And unlike the Florida National Guard, the State Guard would escape federal control and could not be deployed by the President of the United States. Currently, 22 states and Puerto Rico maintain state defense forces that operate largely as auxiliaries to the National Guard.
DeSantis’ call for the rebirth of a military force under his sole command is in line with the fascist strategy pursued by the governor. On April 29, the day before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case was announced, DeSantis enacted the “Combating Public Unrest” bill, declaring it to be the “anti-riot measure”. and the strongest pro-law in the country ”. The bill contains a series of undemocratic punitive measures designed to intimidate people and prevent them from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
On the same day, DeSantis enacted a series of undemocratic attacks on voting rights. The changes will make voter registration more difficult, restrict the ability to provide snacks to queuing voters, restrict the length of time a voter can remain on the state’s mail-in list, and restrict availability. and access to ballot boxes.
This summer, in response to a request from far-right Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, DeSantis sent about 50 Florida National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to arrest migrants. desperate. Upon deployment, DeSantis proclaimed, in Trump-like language, “We are witnessing a disaster on the southern border under the Biden administration.” In recent months we’ve seen people on the terrorist watch list, known sex offenders and a flood of fentanyl cross the border. This is a national security crisis, and we must bring it under control. “
DeSantis, a close ally of Trump, has also been a major proponent of the homicidal policy of “herd immunity” of letting SARS-CoV-2 tear people apart without even minimal public health measures. As a result of this policy, Florida has one of the highest per capita death rates in the country.
Like t he South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted in late 2020, “DeSantis, which owes its work to President Donald Trump’s early support, has imposed an approach consistent with the views of the president and his powerful base of supporters. The administration suppressed adverse facts, spread dangerous disinformation, sacked public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissidents who supported the governor’s approach to the disease.
On July 30, DeSantis issued an executive order banning mask warrants for students in school and threatened to withhold funding to districts that have implemented such measures. In late August, DeSantis followed through on this threat, denying funding to two school districts with mask mandates.
DeSantis has also sought to hide the true extent of the spread of COVID-19 in the state. When whistleblower Rebekah Jones, an employee of the Florida Department of Health, denounced the state’s attempts to manipulate data, she was fired. Immediately, Jones launched an independent website, COVID Action, to monitor the spread of the disease in the state.
Last December, DeSantis responded to Jones’ revelations by dispatching police to raid her home, with guns pointed at her husband and children. Police seized his phone, computers and other equipment used to maintain the COVID Action website.
At the time of the raid, Jones tweeted, “It was DeSantis. He sent the Gestapo. This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak the truth to power.
In September, DeSantis appointed Dr. Joseph Ladapo as state surgeon general. Ladapo is a supporter of collective immunity, opposes mask warrants and downplayed the effectiveness of vaccines, saying: “There is nothing special about them [vaccines] compared to any other preventive measure. It also undermined quarantine procedures for people exposed to the virus, issuing an emergency rule allowing parents to decide whether their children should be quarantined if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
On September 16, DeSantis awarded the Governor of Liberty’s Medal to former CIA officer Felix Rodríguez, who led the operations of the Bolivian army unit that captured and murdered Che Guevara in Bolivia in October. 1967, participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and later formed South Vietnamese paramilitary units for Operation Phoenix during the Vietnam War, which killed over 80,000 people.
Awarding this criminal, DeSantis said, “Felix’s life has been dedicated to fighting communism, supporting freedom, supporting freedom, and we appreciate Felix as a brave and courageous freedom fighter. . From his service as a paramilitary officer at the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bay of Pigs invasion to that of a US Army colonel at the height of the Vietnam War, Felix has marked his legacy as the one of the bravest freedom fighters in history. “
Workers, faced with dire economic and health conditions dramatically exacerbated by the pandemic, increasingly come into open conflict with the policies of the ruling class, embodied in DeSantis’ unwavering support for letting the coronavirus tear the population apart. The Florida governor’s latest move to create a military force under his command, to be deployed against protesters and strikers, poses a grave danger to the working class and must be fought.