|From:||Robert Rabin <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:33:29 -0700 (PDT)|
|Subject:||New York in Vieques|
New York in Vieques Robert Rabin, Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques Nine members of the New York City Council made a commitment to support, from their trenches in the Big Apple, the struggle to demilitarize Vieques. They participated in several activities in Vieques on Friday, September 16 and on Saturday, September 17. The activities were coordinated by the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CPRDV). During the month of August, CPRV delegates Ismael Guadalupe and Robert Rabin and representative of the Coordinating Committee-All Puerto Rico with Vieques (Ché Paraliticci and Ramón Figueroa - CTPRV), participated in several meetings in New York with councilman José Rivera and councilwoman Margarita López, to coordinate the activities recently celebrated in that city and those of this weekend in Puerto Rico and Vieques. The purpose of the visit was to collect information related to Resolution Number 945, submitted to the NYC Council by councilwoman Margarita López on August 11 this year. The resolution mentions the serious dangers to life and to the ecology of Vieques, and the obstacle to socio-economic development caused by the presence and activities of the U.S. Navy in Vieques. The resolution emphasized the death of David Sanes last April 19 and calls for the Navy to pull out of the island of Vieques. On Friday morning the nine councilmen and their support team arrived on the first ferry from Fajardo and were transported from the port of Isabel Segunda to the restricted Navy area to visit the four resistance camps. There they had the opportunity of seeing the terrible destruction caused by more than half a century of bombardment in that part of Vieques. They had lunch at the Teachers´ Camp on Yayí Beach, where a chapel and school have been built. They visited Carlos Zenón at Mount David, Carlos Ventura at Yayí Key and Rubén Berríos at the camp of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. They were shocked by the devastated landscape, which they toured in the company of Ismael Guadalupe, Nilda Medina, Jenny Benítez and Stacie Notine, all members of the CRDV, representatives of the Coordinating Committee-All Puerto Rico with Vieques, and with environmental scientist Dr. Neftalí García. Friday evening, the council members participated in a march and vigil organized by the CRDV and the Vieques Women's Alliance (AMV). The march left from the Public Plaza after a benediction by Father Nelson, of the Catholic Church of Vieques. Among the participants were religious leaders, fishermen, several councilmen from NYC and political leaders, including gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera (PNP). An act of reflection took place in front of the entrance to Camp García. It began with a message of the minister of the Methodist Church of Vieques. Council members José Rivera and Margarita López, spoke eloquently of solidarity and commitment with the struggle of the people of Vieques. Pablo Connelly, one of the founders of the Mount David encampment, spoke of his arrest for trespassing and his citation to Federal Court in Hato Rey on September 23. With the help of viequense photographer Geigel Rosa, the Women's Alliance and the Vieques Conservation Trust, a 12 feet high cross was unveiled. The cross had been "planted" that afternoon at the entrance to the base, crowned with a peace dove and decorated with the map of Vieques. In a short ceremony the meaning of the cross was explained: a symbol of those who have suffered from military violations and an expression of people's hope at this historical time of union of all the community in favor of peace and for a Free Vieques. Nilda Medina, one of the organizers of the ceremony, announced that the CPRDV was donating two thousand dollars to each one of the resistance encampments- Mount David, Key Yayí, and the teachers' camp at Yayí Beach. These six thousand dollars are part of the $10 thousand donated by individuals who attended the concert "From the Valley to Vieques" celebrated in the Valley of Lajas on August 14. On Saturday the council members held public hearings at the Punta Mulas Lighthouse. A broad spectrum of the Vieques population was represented. Dr. Rafael Rivera Castaño, a Viequense epidemiologist who is part of the CPRDV, described the high incidence of cancer among the inhabitants of Vieques and the relationship of this and other diseases to military pollutants. Mrs. Carmen Valencia of the Vieques Women's Alliance spoke of family suffering, and in particular, of the viequense mothers, daughters, wives and workers who have suffered the infringements of the military against the right to live in peace and with dignity in this island-municipality. Myrta Sanes Rodríguez, sister of David, indicated, in tears, how the soldiers let David bleed without offering him medical assistance the night of the tragedy. She thanked the members of the New York City Council for their support to end this horrible situation. One of the most moving depositions was that of Migdalia Rivera Camacho, who shared her family's experiences of distress at the hands of the soldiers. "When they marched through with their monstrous troops they would take over our streets. On one occasion, a helicopter landed accidentally in our backyard, destroying the bathroom of our house. It collapsed upon impact and we remained without water for several days. My mother suffered a lot and the soldiers repaired nothing. With the coldness that characterizes them, the troops passed in front of my house and threw rations at our feet so as not to feel guilty for the emotional and physical damage that they had caused our family." Each of the 9 NYC Council members reaffirmed their commitment and solidarity with the struggle of Vieques. Margarita López made a commitment to return with one hundred members from her Manhattan district. They will bring a flag of the city of New York to Mount David as a symbol of the unity of the Puerto Ricans and Latinos of the Great City with the people of Vieques. "We are not alone" , said Lucia Carambot, one of the speakers, referring to the clear and consistent expressions of support from the members of the New York City Council. At the end of the conferences, the representatives of the NYC Council gathered with members of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques and the Vieques Women's Alliance to deliver a framed copy of the Counci's resolution in favor of the withdrawal of the Navy from Vieques.
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