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ACU Board Expresses Concern Over Bush Administration's Decision on Vieques; Resolution of Concern
June 22, 2001
ALEXANDRIA, VA -- American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene today released a "Resolution of Concern" from the ACU Board of Directors, calling attention to the decision by the White House to terminate U.S. Naval training at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico . The Resolution -- in English and Spanish -- was sent to the president earlier today.
"Conservatives can't help but think our government is more concerned with the requests of a lightweight Republican governor and opportunistic celebrity protesters in this case than the need to 'provide for the national defense,'" said Keene. "We strongly urge the Bush Administration to reconsider and reverse the decision to halt the training exercises."
The ACU Board of Directors' "Resolution of Concern" is attached, and can also be read online in English and Spanish at http:// www.conservative.org.
To request a copy of the "Resolution of Concern," or to schedule an interview or comment from David Keene, contact Ian Walters at 703- 836-8602 x16.
Resolution Of Concern; Regarding the Decision by the Bush Administration to Terminate Naval Training at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
Whereas, since 1898 the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have been joined in a free and voluntary association of mutual benefit to both the people of the United States and the people of Puerto Rico;
Whereas, the benefits of such association to the people of Puerto Rico have included United States citizenship; the protection of the Constitution and laws of the United States; the right of free and unrestricted travel to and from the United States; exemption from United States income taxes, conscription, and other burdens generally associated with citizenship; high levels of prosperity and economic development derived from inclusion within the economy of the United States and the American domestic free trade zone; and the protection of the Armed Forces of the United States;
Whereas, the benefits of such association to the people of the United States have included the use of Puerto Rican territory for the location of air and naval bases, Coast Guard stations, and other military and security installations, there situated for the defense of the United States, Puerto Rico , and their allies; for the safeguarding of the Panama Canal; for the encouragement of commerce among the peoples of the Americas; and for the protection of the world's aviation and navigation in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea;
Whereas, the majority of the people of Puerto Rico , out of friendship for the people of the United States and out of self- interest, including interests in their own security and economic well- being, historically welcomed the American military presence in and near Puerto Rico;
Whereas, the welcoming and support of such American military facilities in and near Puerto Rico , especially including on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico , is a primary way in which the people of Puerto Rico can contribute their fair share in bearing the burdens of defense of the United States and Puerto Rico;
Whereas, in 1941, during World War II, the United States Navy purchased two-thirds of Vieques Island for use as a staging and training area;
Whereas, although the Navy has since sold part of its original land-holdings on the island, and has confined its activities to the eastern end of the island, naval and marine operations on and near the island have been conspicuous and continuous since 1941;
Whereas, for nearly 60 years the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps have conducted training exercises on the eastern tip of Vieques Island, including aerial bombardment, ship-to-shore shelling, and other live-fire training;
Whereas, in all that time, no civilian living or working off the Navy's training range on Vieques Island has ever been killed, injured, or placed at risk by reason of the American military activities there;
Whereas, according to experts in the Armed Forces of the United States, as well as independent experts on military affairs, Vieques Island is an ideal location for the Navy's training exercises for many reasons, including the facts that it is outside the paths of commercial aviation, well removed from the corridors of civilian shipping, and it allows military pilots to deliver live air-to- ground ordnance from the same altitudes at which they would conduct such operations in actual combat;
Whereas, further according to official and private experts, the Vieques Island firing range is the finest facility of its kind in the Atlantic Ocean, and no superior alternative exists for the training of the Navy's Atlantic Fleet and the Marine Corps units attached to it;
Whereas, the Bush Administration today announced its decision to terminate the Navy's training operations on Vieques Island in 2003, without having located a satisfactory alternative site for such operations;
Whereas, the curtailment of Navy and Marine operations on and near Vieques Island, without the establishment of a satisfactory alternative facility, seriously jeopardizes the national security of the United States and of Puerto Rico , and places at risk the lives of American servicemen and servicewomen who are placed in combat without adequate training;
Whereas, referenda to the people of Vieques Island on the question of whether or not the Navy should continue its training operations at their current location had previously been scheduled, in a unilateral, non-binding referendum to be sponsored by the Government of Puerto Rico in July 2001, and a referendum jointly sponsored by the United States and the Government of Puerto Rico in November 2001;
Whereas, the Bush Administration has shown its contempt for the people of Puerto Rico and of Vieques Island by failing and refusing to make the case to them for continued Naval operations on the island; by rendering the scheduled referenda nullities; and by thus depriving the people of Puerto Rico and Vieques Island a voice in the matter;
Whereas, it appears that the Bush Administration has capitulated in the matter to demonstrators and protesters, including practitioners of violent civil disobedience, who have made clear that their hostility to Naval operations on Vieques Island is driven by hostility to the United States and its defense; and
Whereas, it appears that the Bush Administration made its decision based on fears that voters of Puerto Rican heritage in the United States would punish Republican politicians at the polls in various American elections, thus (a) shirking its duty to make the case for continued operations at Vieques Island to all American voters, including those of Puerto Rican heritage; (b)displaying the contemptible assumption that voters of Puerto Rican heritage in the United States are hostile to the military defense of the United States; and (c) subordinating the national security of the United States to craven partisan interests;
Therefore, be it resolved that the American Conservative Union Board of Directors hereby unanimously registers its profound concern with the decision of the Bush Administration to terminate United States military training exercises on and near Vieques Island, and urges the Administration to reconsider and reverse that decision, And to campaign vigorously in the scheduled Puerto Rican referenda in support of continued military operations on Vieques Island.
Thursday, June 24th, 2001, Washington, D.C.
Contact: Ian Walters of the American Conservative Union, 703-836- 8602, ext. 16