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Show More Concern For Vieques Residents

Step In on Vieques

(Copyright 2001)

Show More Concern For Vieques Residents

The Herald articles on the Navy's practice bombing on Vieques, Puerto Rico, remind us of the United States' responsibility to its inhabitants.

At the same time these Vieques articles have appeared, so have news stories on the use of depleted uranium (DU) in Yugoslavia. Governments all over Europe are protesting their soldiers' serious health problems caused by the use of DU by the U.S. military in the recent conflict in the Balkans. Is it because soldiers began to die of cancer and leukemia after their return from Kosovo, Yugoslavia and Bosnia, where large quantities of uranium 238 projectiles were launched?

If the use of DU is such a health concern for the military who participated in the Balkans, then why isn't it a major health and environmental concern for Vieques residents? They experienced the same thing as innocent victims of the Navy's practice bombing.

Eighty percent of the ships and jets that participated in the attacks against Yugoslavia, where large amounts of uranium shells were used, practiced first in Vieques. In 1990, Navy representatives admitted that their jets had launched hundreds of uranium projectiles on Vieques during maneuvers, while practicing for the war in Yugoslavia. The uranium oxide (dust) that results from the impact of the projectiles can travel more than 20 miles, which means it would affect Vieques residents.

The Navy even admits that it could not recover all the uranium-tipped shells shot at the eastern end of Vieques, yet it continues to bomb the island, which means what wasn't exploded previously could be during the present bombing.

Why does it take other governments thousands of miles away to remind the United States of its health and environmental responsibility to the inhabitants of Vieques?



January 18, 2001
(Copyright 2001)

Step In On Vieques

To the Editor:

Re: "Puerto Rico Governor Seeks a Ban on Vieques Bombing" (news article, Jan. 14):

It is no surprise that a new study offers further evidence that Navy target practice on Vieques causes devastating health problems. Studies already document that Navy-launched napalm, uranium and cluster bombs have caused increasing cancer and infant mortality rates and have collapsed the island's fishing, agriculture and tourism industries.

Our lawsuit against the Navy documents numerous instances when the Navy needlessly exposed Viequenses to toxic materials to which it did not expose its own personnel.

We agree with the governor of Puerto Rico: President Clinton should immediately step in with an executive order to ban further bombing.

President and General Counsel
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

New York, Jan. 14, 2001

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