Gov Draws Battle Plan
Visa Denied Cuban Leader
Navy To Evaluate Referendum
Gonzalez To Intercede On Berrios Behalf
Exercises To Resume June 13
Alarcon Plans P.R. Visit
Hispanic Caucus To Hold Hearings On Arrests
Jaime Benitez Dies
Gov Draws Vieques Battle Plan
May 31, 2001
Within hours of receiving notice that the Navy plans to resume bombing practice on Vieques in two weeks, Puerto Rico 's governor dispatched a missile of her own yesterday.
Gov. Sila Maria Calderon angrily called for Puerto Rico 's legislature to schedule a referendum on Vieques "as soon as possible" to seek an immediate end to 60 years of Navy bombing on the tiny inhabited island.
"This is a provocation by the Navy against our people," Calderon said.
The Pentagon's timing couldn't be worse.
Hispanic leaders still have not recovered from the shock of watching the Rev. Al Sharpton and three top Bronx officials slapped with 90- and 40-day sentences for trespassing during the last Vieques protest May 1.
On top of that, the annual Puerto Rican week festival begins Sunday in the city. This is usually the period of greatest Puerto Rican pride. It culminates with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 9. Island politicians traditionally come to the city for the parade, and Calderon is the grand marshal this year.
"These guys [the Navy] just don't get it," said Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano. "I don't remember seeing people anywhere so strong that they don't like what our government is doing, yet the Pentagon in its arrogance keeps ignoring them."
The Navy has virtually guaranteed that the parade will be one huge Vieques protest. Local Puerto Rican leaders launched a recruitment drive for hundreds of New Yorkers to fly to Vieques to risk arrest.
U.S. Denies Visa To Cuban Parliament President
May 31, 2001
Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock announced in a press release Thursday that President George W. Bush's administration denied a visa for the trip to Puerto Rico that Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon had scheduled for the beginning of June.
McClintock described the decision as "an extraordinary triumph for all Puerto Ricans who believe in democracy and do not need political advise from the Cuban totalitarian government."
Navy To Evaluate Validity Of Referendum Proposed By Calderon
May 31, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy said their attorneys will study the validity of the local referendum proposed by Gov. Sila Calderon, according to published reports.
"It will be studied if Puerto Rico has jurisdiction to celebrate that referendum," said Lt. Doug Spencer, spokesman of the Pentagon's Naval Information Center.
The presidential directives provide for the Vieques residents to decide in a referendum if they want the Navy to continue exercises with inert ammunition until 2003, or if they want the Navy to continue their exercises permanently in Vieques using live ammunition.
The federal referendum, scheduled by the Navy for Nov. 6 does not include the option of an immediate cease of the exercises, as proposed by Calderon.
Ex-Premier To Intercede For Vieques Protest Leader
May 31, 2001
San Juan - Former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez has agreed to write to U.S. President George Bush asking him to show clemency to the jailed leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Ruben Berrios Martinez.
The former Puerto Rican senator was sentenced to four months in jail for trespassing on the U.S. Navy's property on the offshore island of Vieques , to protest its being used as a firing range.
PIP executive director Fernando Mart]n Garc]a said he received a fax from Gonzalez, who headed a series of Socialist governments in Spain from 1982 to 1996, saying "I'll send President Bush a letter asking him to undertake to guarantee (Berrios') personal safety and his prompt release."
"Please convey my affectionate regards and solidarity to Ruben Berrios, and my hopes that he will shortly be at liberty" Gonzalez wrote.
Navy To Resume Exercises In Vieques On June 13
By Proviana Colon Diaz
May 30, 2001
The U.S. Navy military practices will resume in Vieques on June 13, for a maximum of 18 days, Gov. Sila Calderon said Wednesday, less than 24-hours after her administration was officially notified.
Calling the Navy's decision a "contradiction" to the public policy of President George W. Bush, Calderon said her administration will continue to fight until "justice is served and the practices end."
The new exercises bring yet another change in Calderon's strategy regarding the issue of Vieques.
Although she had ruled out earlier this year similar legislative actions by both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, on Wednesday, Calderon said she would be filing legislation to hold a local referendum on Vieques.
"The referendum results will show the people of Puerto Rico, the North American people, the President, and the Navy how the people of Vieques truly feel, and I believe that is very important in any decision that might be reached," said Calderon.
During the 18-day period of practices the Navy will only be practicing air to land bombings and not ship to shore, like it did during the last exercises that ended May 1.
Alarcon Plans Visit To Puerto Rico; Visa Not Yet Issued
May 30, 2001
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The head of Cuba's legislature, Ricardo Alarcon, plans to visit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico next month for an event celebrating a Havana-based foundation that promotes ties between the two islands.
Alarcon, the National Assembly president, applied for a visa to visit Puerto Rico for the June 9 event, but had received no word yet on whether the U.S. government would grant the visa.
The Mission of Puerto Rico in Cuba, a foundation established in Havana by Puerto Rican pro-independence organizations to promote better ties between the islands, is celebrating its 35th anniversary at the event and has invited Alarcon to attend.
Although some of Puerto Rico 's lawmakers have said Alarcon should be denied a visa because of concerns about human rights in Cuba, Gov. Sila Calderon has said she will not intervene.
Hispanic Caucus To Hold Audiences On Vieques' Arrests
May 30, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. House Hispanic Caucus invited 10 witnesses and the secretary of the Department of Defense to present a deposition in public hearings on the recent arrests made on Vieques, according to published reports.
The hearings will take place June 5 at 10 a.m. in the 2200 room of the House's Rayburn Building in Washington D.C.
The purpose of the hearings is to investigate the alleged bad treatment suffered by civil disobedience protesters when they were arrested by military authorities on April 28 and 29 in Vieques.
Three Days Of Mourning Declared To Honor Former UPR President
May 30, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon decreed three days of national mourning in memory of former University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Jaime Benitez, who died Wednesday at the age of 93. Benitez also served as Resident Commissioner in Washington D.C. from 1972 to 1976
"Everything in the University, from the oldest campus in Rio Piedras to the most recently established campus in Utuado has his hallmark," UPR Interim President Jorge L. Sanchez said.
The attorney, professor, essayist, and politician Benitez Rexach was born in Vieques on October 29, 1908. He was married to Luz A. Martinez.