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Health Risk To Vieques Kids

Groups Seek To Stop Practices In Court

Noise Law Aimed At Bombing

DOD: Vieques Accord Valid

PIP Ready To Re-Enter Restricted Areas

USS Enterprise Battle Group To Train April 27th


Navy Bombing Risk To Vieques Kids' Health-Study

April 19, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN - Stepping up pressure to end U.S. Navy war games on Vieques this month, Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon released preliminary results of a new study on Thursday alleging that military bombing poses a health risk to the island's children.

The study, which examined 48 Vieques children as well as a sample group of 50 children from the south coast city of Ponce, found that the Vieques group had "a significant statistical difference" in the thickness of their carotid artery, which could indicate a heightened risk of coronary disease.

The study is a follow-up to one performed on Vieques fishermen and their family members which found thickness around the outer lining of the heart in the Vieques group, compared to a sample group from Ponce.

The Calderon administration say these studies show symptoms of "vibroacoustic disease" among Vieques residents, which could be tied to noise from Navy ship-to-shore shelling. The recently identified condition results from sonic booms causing damage to internal organs, such as the heart or lungs.

The Navy would not immediately comment on the latest study. Officials have previously said there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that Navy training causes the condition or other health damage.


Anti U.S. Navy Groups Seek To Stop Practices In Court

April 19, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Vieques Conservation and History Trust, the Union for the Protection of Vieques' Environment, and other plaintiffs resumed their petition to halt the U.S. Navy military practices scheduled for April 27, according to published reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Juan M. Perez Gimenez had previously turned down the legal recourse.

The motion states that the Navy hasn't been practicing on Vieques for months, and instead, has been practicing elsewhere. The plaintiffs also claim that announcing the resumption of the military exercises violates the orders from President George W. Bush and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to halt the bombings until a study on the military exercises' effect on the residents of Vieques is concluded.

The plaintiffs also said the resumption of the military practices on Vieques is against Gov. Sila Calderon's official position on the issue.


Puerto Rico Noise Law Aimed At Navy Bombing

April 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN - Puerto Rico's government presented legislation on Wednesday to set strict noise limits over beaches and surrounding waters, a move aimed at ending ship-to-shore shelling at the U.S. Navy's disputed Vieques bombing range, the island's justice secretary said.

The bill, which is expected to be passed by the legislature this week, sets noise levels far below that normally generated by Navy guns during war games.

The noise legislation threaten to undermine an accord reached between former President Bill Clinton and former Gov. Pedro Rossello.

The administration of current Gov. Sila Calderon, who opposed the Navy bombing, argues that under the federal Noise Control Act, federal entities including the Navy must abide by regulations set by states and other jurisdictions.

Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez said the move will not break the Clinton-Rossello pact.

"There is absolutely nothing in the presidential directives that impedes Puerto Rico from doing this," Rodriguez said. "This is compatible with the directives, the Congressional legislation and the responsibility of the government of Puerto Rico to protect the health of its residents."

Under the Noise Act, the Navy could seek a waiver from the White House, according to officials on both sides.


Defense Department Assures Validity Of Vieques Agreement

April 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Pentagon reinstated that an agreement regarding Vieques does exist and is confident that Gov. Sila Calderon will respect it, according to published reports

Pentagon spokesman Adm. Craig Quigley sustained that the agreement was signed by former State Secretary Angel Morey and former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Danzing, among others.

The Pentagon official added that the agreement was later signed into law and was also endorsed by the Puerto Rican Legislature.

"There is an agreement. Our intention is to comply with the terms of that agreement, and we expect the Commonwealth to do the same," Quigley indicated.


PIP Ready To Re-Enter Restricted Areas

April 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios Martinez announced Wednesday that he's ready to re-enter the restricted areas in Vieques, along with other PIP leaders, if the U.S. Navy insists in the renewal of its military exercises.

"Today, more than ever, we have to maintain the pressure," said Berrios, who protested for more than a year in the firing range area.

The PIP leader warned that as in other instances, he would not recognize any jurisdiction of the federal courts in case he is arrested again.

"The United States government will have to learn to respect our people. The federal government will be, once again, the jailer of those who express how the majority of its citizens feel," Berrios added.


US Navy To Resume Training On Vieques, Pentagon Tells Puerto Rico

April 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Tuesday said it has notified Puerto Rico that an aircraft carrier battle group will train at the end of the month on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques , setting the stage for a confrontation with the US commonwealth's new governor.

The training by the carrier USS Enterprise and its battle group would be the first since Governor Sila Calderon took office in January, vowing to halt US amphibious warfare training on the island east of Puerto Rico .

"We have notified the secretary of state of Puerto Rico of our intention to train for about a week commencing on the 27th of April," said Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman.

Quigley said the Pentagon would abide by an agreement reached with the previous Puerto Rican governor that allows the US military to train on the island with nonexplosive ordnance.

But Calderon has disavowed the agreement, threatening to withdraw protection by local police and to pass anti-noise regulations that would effectively bar the Navy from conducting ship-to-shore gunnery practice.

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