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Ecumenical Coalition Does Not Rule Out Civil Disobedience

Calderon Visits Florida

Navy Debuts Radio Show On Bombings

Vieques Girds To Protest Exercises

Navy Rapped By 'Disappointed' Pataki

Archbishop: Renewal Shows A Lack Of Respect


Ecumenical Coalition Does Not Rule Out Civil Disobedience

April 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Leaders from the Pro Vieques Ecumenical Coalition didn't rule out the idea to carry out civil disobedient acts when the U.S. Navy resumes its military exercises on the island municipality, schedule for April 27.

The religious leaders made the announcement as part of a series of actions to reject the Navy's announcement that they will in fact, resume the exercises.

"Our moral commitment is very firm. From a moral perspective, it is a rejection of the bombings on Vieques. And for us it is a matter of human rights," said Wilfredo Estrada spokesman for the Coalition.

According to Estrada, among the actions agreed is a letter that will be sent to President George W. Bush and to high ranking Navy officials as well asking the immediate and permanent cessation of all military activity in the Isla Nena.

"Civil disobedience is a very personal, it is sacred decision," said San Juan Archbishop Roberto Nieves Gonzalez, who made clear that for him it will be the last option.


Puerto Rico's Governor Visits Florida

by David Cox, Tallahassee Bureau

April 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

TALLAHASSEE -- Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon spent a whirlwind day in the state capital Monday meeting Gov. Jeb Bush and other leaders and promoting greater cooperation between the two governments.

Florida is home to the second largest population of Puerto Rican nationals in the United States with most of them living in the Orlando metropolitan area.

"It's only natural that Puerto Rico have a close relationship because we have so many common issues," Calderon told House Speaker Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo. "Your people are my people too. There is like an invisible bridge between Puerto Rico and Florida."

Calderon signed an agreement with Secretary of State Katherine Harris that could lead to future cooperation in economic development issues, including increasing joint efforts to lure high tech jobs to Florida and Puerto Rico.

The governor also raised the issue of the U.S. Navy's plans to resume bombing exercises on a range on the island of Vieques. Calderon said she wants to resolve the Vieques controversy in a "mutually agreeable" way with President Bush's administration. Gov. Bush wouldn't commit to intervening on Puerto Rico's behalf to ask his brother the president to stop the Navy's plans.


Navy Debuts Radio Show On Bombings

April 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The Navy went on the air Saturday with the first in a series of radio shows aimed at convincing Puerto Ricans that it needs to resume training on the island of Vieques.

Vieques residents are to vote Nov. 6 on whether they want to expel the Navy following a fatal bombing accident in April 1999 that touched off massive protests in the U.S. Caribbean territory.

Four officers speaking in Spanish spent much of the paid, hour-long show explaining why the practice range was the ``perfect location'' for the Atlantic Fleet to safely practice its shelling, bombing and amphibious invasions.

The Navy said more shows were planned this week and next.

``The range is the perfect location for these types of operations,'' said Navy pilot Capt. John Rodriguez, speaking on-air. ``Since it is separated from population centers and it is in an area with no air traffic congestion it makes the exercises secure.''


Vieques Girds To Protest Return Of Navy Exercises

by John Marino
Special to The Washington Post

April 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Washington Post Co. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN -- Vieques residents vowed today to reoccupy the bombing range where the Navy says it will resume war games on April 27, and Gov. Sila Maria Calderon pledged to introduce legislation next week in an effort to halt the maneuvers.

Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano vowed to join residents, as well as supporters from the main island, in trying to stop the maneuvers by invading the range.

"I'm ready to pay any price, including being jailed, for the liberation of my town," said Serrano, a member of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party. Protesters occupied the range for a year after the April 1999 death of security guard David Sanes Rodriguez during a botched Navy bombing run.


Navy Rapped By 'Disappointed' Pataki

New York Daily News With News Wire Services.

April 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Daily News, L.P. All rights reserved.

After a temporary ceasefire, the Navy's announcement that it plans to resume controversial war games in Vieques set the stage for a renewed battle over the 33,000-acre island that the U.S. has used as a bombing range for more than 50 years.

The decision was immediately blasted by Calderon and aides to Gov. Pataki, who toured the island this week, pledging to flex his political muscle to end the exercises."We're extremely disappointed," said Pataki spokesman Mike McKeon. "It's clear the Navy bureaucracy is more interested in protecting the status quo."

Calderon said she would try to stop the training by introducing legislation that toughens noise regulations on island beaches and surrounding waters. The legislation will be crafted in a way to effectively ban ship-to-shore shelling of Vieques , a key element of the training there.

If the governor does enact such a bill, it could undermine an accord reached under president Bill Clinton and former governor Pedro Rossello, which calls for a Nov. 6 referendum in which Vieques residents will decide the future of Navy training on the island.

Navy and federal officials have warned that any moves by Puerto Rico to hinder training would break the deal, which also limits training on Vieques to inert ordnance or "dummy bombs."


Archbishop: Renewal Of Navy Maneuvers Shows A Lack Of Respect

April 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001 EFE News Service (U.S.) Inc. All rights reserved.
Source: World Reporter (TM)

San Juan - San Juan's archbishop, Roberto Gonzalez Nieves, on Friday criticized the announced renewal of the U.S. Navy's maneuvers on the island of Vieques , calling the decision a "lack of sensitivity and respect for the religious feelings of the Puerto Rican people."

The prelate urged President George Bush to reconsider and call off the exercises on the island municipality set to begin anew in two weeks. Gonzalez Nieves suggested the United States should wait to review the findings of a study on the impact on health ordered by former President Bill Clinton.

He added that Puerto Rican authorities, whatever their constitutional and legal duties may be, have the obligation to protect everyone from acts of violence.

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