by Jesus Davila
(IPS) NEW YORK -- August proved to be a difficult month for Latinos with 12 dead reported from the war in Iraq. The number of soldiers wounded is not known at present.
The most recent casualty is from New York, where Congressman Jose Serrano and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, representing Puerto Rico, have been insisting on a full report of casualties from the Pentagon.
A young man who celebrated his 19th birthday while deployed in Kuwait, Luis Perez was killed in an explosion on the 27th of August, just days after he was transferred to the city of Fallujah in Iraq. Perez, who graduated from high school last year, was a resident of Theresa, a small hamlet with 353 families near Watertown, NY.
Perez's death closed the month of August. Now, Latinos greet September with the death of Armando Hernandez, from California. Hernandez, who was in the Fourth Cavalry, First Division of the U.S. Army and died in Samara when the site he was guarding was attacked.
So far this year, the Pentagon has identified 63 soldiers with Latino names among those who have died in Iraq. This represent close to 13 percent of the total fatalities for the year thus far, a disproportionate number when compared to the Latino population of the United States, which does not reach 10 percent of the total population.
The Latino casualties form part of a larger picture; in the 531 days since "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was launched, occupation forces headed by the United States have lost 1,200 lives. Of these, 975 were U.S. soldiers, 131 from countries allied to the coalition, and more than 100 from private -- or contract -- armies. These figures, however, do not include casualties suffered by allied Iraqi soldiers.
The Pentagon admits that there are close to 3,700 wounded and it is known that there are thousands of additional medical losses.
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