Democrats Call For Immediate Bombing End
Ammunition Disposal Questioned
De Castro Calls For Pro-Navy Vote
PDP Leaders Want Him Out
Jackson Seeks Vieques Hearings
Kennedy Jr., Rivera, Burgos Sentenced To Jail. Pair To Serve Time In P.R.
Democratic Party To Request Immediate Cease Of Navy Practices
July 10, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said that he would be promoting among Democrat committees in the 50 states the approval of a resolution to request Republican President George W. Bush to immediately cease military practices in Vieques.
"The correct thing to do is to halt the bombing now, not in 2003," said McAuliffe after meeting with Bronx's Democratic Party President Roberto Ramirez, who served time in a federal detention prison for trespassing U.S. Navy restricted land in Vieques.
McAuliffe also requested from the Democrat Senate Armed Forces and Health committees to hold public hearings on the issue.
Expert Questions U.S. Navy Disposal Of Ammunition In Vieques
By Proviana Colon Diaz
July 9, 2001
Ricky Stauber, an expert in explosive ordnance disposals, testified on Monday about the great risk faced by Vieques residents as a result of the possible presence of unexploded U.S. Navy bombs, which might have failed to detonate upon impact.
Stauber said that due to the softness of the terrain in the Vieques target range, which is sand, bombs dropped from the air could fail to detonate.
Furthermore, information compiled by the expert, including witness accounts, indicates that the area where the unexploded bombs might be located is far larger than the one indicated in the current maps.
"We know what type of ammunition was used, what we don't know is all the areas in which they were fired," said Stauber.
The expert statements were made during a morning-long testimony before the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
The committee seeks information on the possible negative environmental impact caused by the U.S. Navy military management and disposal of ammunitions.
De Castro Calls For A Vote In Favor Of The U.S. Navy In Vieques
July 9, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Jorge De Castro Font called Monday for a majority vote in favor of the permanent presence of the U.S. Navy on Vieques, to protest the intervention of the independentistas in the issue and to reaffirm democracy.
The legislator said that Puerto Ricans are noticing that a vote for the immediate ousting and the halting of the Navy's military exercises represents the secession of Puerto Rico from the United States and the loss of the current relationship between the two.
"I believe that the only way the Viequenses can demand respect and seek true peace in Vieques is by giving them a lesson in democracy and to reject the intervention of the independentistas by voting for option number three so that the Navy can stay," said De Castro Font.
The PDP representative added that the Vieques issue has ceased being one of human rights to become a political one.
PDP Leaders Want Critic Out Of Party
Ivan Roman, San Juan Bureau
July 8, 2001
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Most Popular Democratic Party leaders, including Gov. Sila Calderon dismissed Rep. Jorge de Castro Font's tirades about the party going too far to the left or confronting Washington politicians too much. He claims to represent the party's true majority -- not the leadership he says leans toward breaking away from the United States.
Now, they say, he has crossed the line.
He sided with pro-statehood politicians who descended on the Hill of Winds recently to protect the U.S. flag.
He then went to the New Progressive Party's July Fourth celebration, hugged Calderon's archrivals and said he felt "right at home."
"He's definitely out of the party now," said a happy Senate Vice President Ferdinand Perez.
But despite angry callers to radio shows, de Castro said he is not going anywhere.
"They are the ones that have taken the PDP hostage and forced it away from the basic precepts upon which it was founded," he said.
Jackson To Seek Vieques Hearings
July 8, 2001
Rev. Jesse Jackson returned Friday from a trip to Puerto Rico vowing to push for congressional hearings on the naval bombing range on Vieques Island and planning a protest march.
Along with the environmental and health impact of the bombings, Jackson expressed concern about what he called "high bail and long- term sentences of jail" imposed on protesters.
Jackson said he wanted congressional hearings to include fishermen, cancer victims and other island residents affected by the bombings. He also plans a 1,000-person protest march from the Department of Justice to the White House on July 19.
Jackson traveled to Puerto Rico with several legislators to raise awareness and show support at the sentencings of environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Vice President Dennis Rivera and others jailed for trespassing on the bombing range.
Jackson Announces Demonstration In Washington
July 8, 2001
CHICAGO (AP) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson is planning a demonstration in Washington, D.C. to protest the Naval bombing on Vieques island.
The protest is set for July 19, in which demonstrators will march from the Department of Justice to the White House, Jackson said Saturday at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters in Chicago.
Jackson and several well-known politicians are among those who are protesting against six decades of Naval bombardments on a bombing range on the outlying Puerto Rican island.
Jackson said he hoped about 1,000 people would participate in the demonstration in Washington.
"We might challenge more American citizens to stand with American citizens who are Puerto Ricans ," Jackson said.
Kennedy, Rivera To Serve Sentences in San Juan
Lindsay Faber and Joshua Robin. STAFF WRITERS
July 8, 2001
Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who is representing lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and labor leader Dennis Rivera on charges of trespassing on Vieques , said yesterday the two will serve the remaining 26 days of their sentences in the federal detention center in San Juan.
Kennedy and Romano did not request transfers to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where the Rev. Al Sharpton is serving a 90-day sentence for trespassing to protest the U.S. Navy's military exercises on the island, Cuomo said.
"I think the law is you go to the prison in that jurisdiction unless you have a special reason for having to be somewhere else and you request the change," Cuomo said, adding that Kennedy has lawsuits pending in San Juan's courts challenging the bombing on environmental grounds.
Kennedy Jr., Rivera, Burgos Sentenced To Jail
July 7, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Chief U.S. District Court Judge Hector Lafitte sentenced environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and New York union leader Dennis Rivera to 30 days in prison and New Progressive Party Sen. Norma Burgos to 60 days for illegally trespassing on U.S. Navy land in Vieques.
Four other people - Armando Torres, Zoraida Figueroa, Rafael Ayala, and Angel Aponte Santos - were also sentenced to 30 days in prison.
Burgos received a harsher sentence due to an exchange of strong words with the judge.
"You should be a lawmaker not a lawbreaker," Lafitte told Burgos, initially sentencing her to 40 days. When Burgos protested and suggested Lafitte put the Navy on trial, instead of peaceful protesters, Lafitte called her defiant, and added 20 days to her sentence.
Those sentenced Friday were among about 180 people detained during exercises in late April and early May.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser called Navy officers who testified that Kennedy and Rivera's incursion - from a fishing boat onto the beachside firing range - stopped the exercises.
"As soon as the vessel, the boat, entered the danger zone, I had to cease fire," said Lt. Cmdr. Russell Gottfried.
He said he interrupted the ship-to-shore shelling for 2 1/2 hours while security officers scoured the range for Kennedy's party, which was hiding in mangroves.