Navy To Hold Off On Vieques Exercises
Congress: Trade Incentives For Live Bombings
No Bill To Regulate Noise
Vieques Groundwater Safe
New Push To End Bombing
Navy To Hold Off On Vieques Exercises: Rumsfeld
March 2, 2001
WASHINGTON - The US Navy will hold off on amphibious warfare exercises on the island of Vieques pending the outcome of talks on the use of the range between the Pentagon and Puerto Rico 's new governor, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday.
A battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and an amphibious assault group were supposed to train on the island later this month before deploying to the Mediterranean.
"The navy is going to proceed with some aspect of their training but not using the inner range, pending the discussions that are taking place," Rumsfeld said at a news conference here.
The concession appears aimed at defusing a looming confrontation between the Pentagon and Calderon who campaigned on a pledge to put a stop to the US military exercises at Vieques .
But it marked another setback for the navy, which already had given up live fire training on Vieques under an agreement reached last year between President Bill Clinton and Calderon's predecessor as governor Pedro Rossello.
Congress May Trade Incentives For Live Bombings In Vieques
March 1, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - A spokesman for U.S. Rep. James Hansen (R-Utah) said in published reports that the Congress would consider granting economic incentives for Puerto Rico similar to those provided by sections 936 and 30-A of the Internal Revenue Code, in exchange for live fire training on Vieques.
Bill Johnson quoted Hansen as saying "we are willing to give Puerto Rico the economic incentives they require. We would even agree to improve the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to guarantee the necessary training in Vieques with live ammunition."
Calderon Won't File Bill To Regulate Noise In Vieques, For Now
By Proviana Colon Diaz
March 1, 2001
BARCELONETA - Gov. Sila Calderon on Thursday said she won't file the bill that would regulate sound and noise levels in Vieques while she maintains an open dialogue with federal authorities.
The governor met recently with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Vieques issue.
"We have established a respectful and open dialogue, and I will defer action on that issue in the hopes that the dialogue continues," Calderon said.
Groundwater Said Safe In Vieques
By IAN JAMES
February 28, 2001
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A U.S. health agency has announced that the water supply on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques is safe to drink and has not been contaminated by U.S. Navy bombing exercises.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released the finding Tuesday as the first step in its assessment of whether any health effects might be associated with potential releases of hazardous substances on the Navy's firing range.
Gov. Sila Calderon is urging the U.S. government to halt the bombing exercises, claiming the training harms the environment and the health of islanders.
The Navy vehemently denies the claims, saying its training on one end of the island has caused no harm and is vital for national defense.
Puerto Ricans Start New Push To End Navy Bombing On Vieques
By PAULINE JELINEK
February 27, 2001
WASHINGTON - Puerto Rico 's governor asked the Defense Department Tuesday to delay Navy training exercises on the island of Vieques until some health effects of the bombing are known.
Gov. Sila Calderon made the request to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in an hour meeting at the Pentagon. She said Rumsfeld made no decision, but told her he'd be in contact with her.
On Jan. 15, then-President Bill Clinton ordered federal health authorities to investigate a Puerto Rican government study showing 49 of 50 volunteers tested on Vieques had a thickening of the sack surrounding the heart, a condition called vibroacoustic disease.
The investigation was to be completed this month but wasn't. Calderon wants Rumsfeld to wait for it before he allows another training exercise. There are two exercises planned for March.
Meanwhile, a group of Capitol Hill opponents of the bombing began collecting signatures on a letter to President Bush that asks the exercises be halted on grounds they are harming health, the economy and the environment on the island.
"This is not a national security issue, it's a health and human rights issue," said Anibal Acevedo Vila, Puerto Rico 's Democratic delegate to the House of Representatives.
"What you are seeing on the island of Vieques is abuse," Rep. Jose Serrano, said at a news conference before some 60 people from Vieques , Chicago and Pennsylvania who are lobbying lawmakers this week.
The representatives signed a letter to Bush suggesting toxins from ammunition used by the Navy are causing a mortality rate among islanders that is 40 percent higher, a cancer rate 27 percent higher and diabetes rate 70 percent higher than Puerto Rico as a whole.
"The undersigned urge you to order an immediate and permanent end of the bombing in Vieques," said the letter, asserting that the majority of Puerto Ricans favor the idea.