1999 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Robert Rabin <bieke@coqui.net>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:33:29 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
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 

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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