2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: vozvieq@coqui.net
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 12:44:10 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Vieques
Vieques is an offshore municipality of Puerto Rico. Its population has been
squeezed into less than one third of its original territory. The other
two-thirds are employed by the Navy to stockpile weapons, including tactical
nuclear warheads, and for target practice. The effect of the war exercises,
many conducted with experimental weapons like reduced uranium ordnance, has
been the high degree of contamination of soils and waters, with the
concomitant surge in infant mortality, cancer deaths, and deaths in general,
statistically all the highest by far in comparison with the rest of the
population of Puerto Rico. Savage harm has been done on the environment, to
the extent that Sen. Murkowsky (R-Alaska) has stated that "there's not
enough money in the United States Treasury to pay for the cost of

Of course, Vieques and Roosevelt Roads (in mainland Puerto Rico, just
offshore from Vieques) have been used extensively as a military platform for
actions in the Caribbean (Haiti, Santo Domingo, Granada, etc.).

Puerto Ricans in Vieques are presently locked in a literal life-and-death
struggle with the Navy. Hundreds of Islanders presently occupy the poisoned
lands the Navy uses for target practice in a successful campaign of civil
disobedience. So far, battle-group Eisenhower (December 99), and
battle-group Washington (February 00) have had to exercise elsewhere.

A complex web of political and economic interests has been spun around this
issue, with the puppet government of Puerto Rico and Clinton concocting a
byzantine "deal" which allows the Navy to continue its bombing on a limited
basis, subject to a bizarre referendum that is to take place, with a
Congressional allocation of $90 million for the Navy to wage a publicity
campaign to persuade the less than 4,000 Viequean voters to allow them to
have unrestricted use of their land.

The "deal" has been so repugnant to the general population of Puerto Rico
that a council of churches recently called for its massive rejection. More
than 150,000 people showed up (the pro-government police commissioner
counted only 85,000, as he admitted being baffled by the size of the
crowd. "The largest ever in Puerto Rico", he admitted.)

Everything seems to be at a standstill, but federal moves seem to reenact
the Waco episode (without the weapons, at least on the demonstrators' side,
made up of fishermen, church leaders, students, and leaders of two of the
three legal political parties).

This is not at all a "national security" issue, as the Navy is trying to
present. Vieques is just a convenient, distant place to test experimental
weapons, and to dump tons of ordnance that keeps, Raytheon, Northrop,
General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin and other corporate warriors (where most
Navy top brass retire to) happy and rich.

Some of us involved in this struggle are trying to grab a handle on the
legal environmental exposure of the Navy (all federal environmental laws
apply in Puerto Rico). We would appreciate guidance along this path. 

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