Judge Refuses To Halt Exercises
Calderon Will Pursue Lawsuit
Stars Protest Bombing
Vivoni Begs Protesters Not To Break Law
Battle Group Sets Sail For Vieques
Noise Law Signed
Puerto Rico Sues
Navy Details Exercises
Judge Rejects Injunction To Stop Vieques Shelling
April 26, 2001
WASHINGTON -- A federal judge rejected Puerto Rico's request for an emergency injunction to stop the U.S. Navy's training shelling on the island of Vieques.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler made the decision Thursday.
With little time remaining before the Navy plans to resume the shelling of Vieques as part of a four to seven day training exercise, lawyers for the Puerto Rican government sought an emergency injunction to block the drill. They say the shelling would inflict irreparable harm on people living near the range.
"I cannot find that [the exercises] would cause irreparable harm to the residents of Vieques ," declared Judge Kessler.
Justice Department attorneys argued the United States has the right to continue the drills while broader questions over noise are resolved.
Tuesday, Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon signed into law an anti-noise act that prohibits activities that produce noises of 190 decibels or greater along the island's shores. Based on that law, Puerto Rico Attorney General Anabelle Rodriguez then filed a complaint, seeking the restraining order to block the shelling.
Kessler Thursday asked Justice Department attorney Angeline Purdy whether the shelling would violate Puerto Rico's new statute on noise pollution. "Yes," Purdy replied.
But Purdy said there was no alternative but to continue. "If training is not allowed," Purdy told the judge, the military would "send out relief forces to some hot spot not fully trained." Or, she continued, forces already at these spots wouldn't be able to come home.
Puerto Rican Governor Will Move On Lawsuit Against Bombing
April 26, 2001
San Juan, Apr 26 (EFE).- Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon said she is determined to move ahead with the lawsuit against the U.S. Navy to block its military maneuvers on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques .
In an address to the nation, aired on both television and radio, Calderon asked Puerto Ricans for "peace, calm and firmness" to back the lawsuit, while the opposition party seeking statehood, the New Progressive Party, says the suit is meant as a challenge to the U.S. Armed Forces and government.
"I will move forward with these legal proceedings in whatever forum necessary," Calderon said, adding that she plans to exhaust every legal resource to put an end to the military maneuvers on the island.
Puerto Rican Stars Protest Navy Bombing At Vieques
April 26, 2001
MIAMI - Puerto Rican entertainment and sports stars, including Oscar-winning actor Benicio del Toro and pop heart-throb Ricky Martin, on Thursday urged President George W. Bush to halt U.S. navy bombing exercises on the island of Vieques.
In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers, the stars said the bombing was a violation of human rights which endangered the lives, health and safety of Vieques residents.
" Puerto Ricans have gladly accepted their share of responsibility for the common defense of the principles of democracy and freedom," said the advertisement, sponsored by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.
"But to continue to put the health of the people of Vieques in danger is asking too much."
"Mr. President, we have faith that you as a man of compassion, a believer of civility and a leader of democracy, will put a stop to the bombing Vieques , now."
The advertisement carried photographs of the 11 stars, who also included Grammy-award winning singers Marc Anthony and Jose Feliciano, All-Star baseball player Roberto Alomar and undefeated World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation middleweight champion Felix "Tito" Trinidad.
The government of Puerto Rico , a U.S. Caribbean territory of nearly four million people, is fighting in U.S. federal courts to stop the bombing exercises.
By Proviana Colon Diaz
April 25, 2001
SAN JUAN - Police Superintendent Pierre Vivoni made a public plea Wednesday to those planning to protest against the resumption of the U.S. Navy military practices this weekend on Vieques not to engage in violations of the law.
However, he was clear in saying that the police do not expect violent incidents, since it is his understanding that the demonstrations will be peaceful ones.
Violators of the law within the local jurisdiction, however, will be apprehended, Vivoni said.
"I will be there to provide safety for all those who decide to peacefully exercise their right to protest. However, I urge them not to violate the law," said Vivoni, adding that it is not within the powers of local authorities to arrest anyone trespassing on federal land.
Enterprise Battle Group Sets Sail For Vieques
April 25, 2001
Washington - The Enterprise battle group set sail Wednesday from the Norfolk Naval Station, in Virginia, for the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to begin controversial training exercises.
Officially, the vessels are headed for the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, but several destroyers plan to stop in Vieques to use the firing range there.
Whether they complete their mission depends on the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Puerto Rican government in federal court in Washington, D.C., that could result in a court order stopping the maneuvers.
Navy: Has Good Case To Defend Themselves Against PR Government
April 25, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Naval Information Center spokesman Doug Spencer said the U.S. Navy has a good case against the interdiction filed by the Puerto Rico government to try to halt the military practices on Vieques, according to published reports.
A federal source said the U.S. government's position on the new Noise Prohibition Law and the injunction is that the military exercises are a matter of national security, and because of that, the government can't force the Navy to stop their maneuvers or the bombings on Vieques.
Puerto Rico Sues Navy
April 25, 2001
SAN JUAN -- The Puerto Rico government sued the U.S. Navy and Pentagon on Tuesday in an effort to block this weekend's military training in Vieques.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., calls for the Navy to follow local environmental noise regulations that Gov. Sila Maria Calderon signed into law just minutes before going to court. The new rules prohibit the sonic boom and certain noise levels generated by ship-to-shore shelling during land, air and amphibious training exercises. Some experts have linked the noise levels to heart abnormalities known as vibroacoustic disease. Local doctors found signs of this disease in Vieques fishermen.
After filing the lawsuit, Calderon wrote to Navy and Department of Defense officials asking them to stop the bombing exercises scheduled to begin as early as Friday. If she doesn't get an answer by this morning, Puerto Rico's government will seek a temporary restraining order.
"They have left me no other choice," Calderon said.
Public Document Details Navy Exercises On Vieques
April 24, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy sent a document to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior announcing that they will be launching approximately 600 to 1,500 inert ammunition during the upcoming military exercises on Vieques. Ammunitions weigh between 25 to 2,000 tons.
The maneuvers, according to the report, will last from four to seven days and are part of a multiple unit exercise like the one called COMPUTEX or the Joint Task Force Exercise, in which ship-to-shore ammunition maneuvers are used.
The document stated that four to 10 ships will be used to launch no more than 300 bombs a day. Thirty five percent of the ammunition will be launched in the evenings no later than 11 p.m.
The information provided by Navy official K.T. McCarthy is required to protect endangered species during military maneuvers.