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Miss Universe Goes Home

Vieques Health Risks Questioned

U.S. Representatives Tour Vieques

Clinton Urges White House To Hold Off On Bombing

Shorter Exercises To Resume 3 Days After Referendum

Rum Tax Reimbursement Could Be Used To Prepare Vieques Alternate


Miss Universe Finally Goes Home

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

SAN JUAN -- Denise Quinones won the Miss Universe pageant on her home turf two months ago but didn't get her homecoming until Monday -- a caravan cheered on by fans and a meeting with Puerto Rico's governor.

Quinones said it was exciting coming home.

``I'm more nervous today than on the day of the contest,'' she said before the caravan started. ``I couldn't be more proud of being Puerto Rican and I never thought that I would be a symbol of pride for Puerto Rico and an example for our youth.''

The caravan ended at the governor's mansion, where Quinones met with Gov. Sila Calderon. Quinones said she planned to talk with Calderon about the issue of U.S. Navy bombing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which she opposes.

The beauty queen said she also hopes she can meet with President Bush when she next visits Washington in October to discuss the Vieques issue with him.


Vieques Health Risks Questioned

By Rowan Scarborough

July 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE WASHINGTON TIMES. All rights reserved.

A series of studies this year cast doubt on charges that the Navy's practice bombing on Vieques island causes health problems for residents. Top Stories.  

The studies concluded that the Puerto Rican island's water supply was not contaminated by the live-fire exercises, nor were there ill-health effects from the use of depleted uranium ammunition in 1999. Meanwhile, the U.S. Public Health Service continues to study cancer rates on Vieques, after a limited analysis found a slightly higher rate among the island's 9,000 residents compared with Puerto Rico's 3.8 million citizens. However, the raw data also show that both the Puerto Rican and Vieques cancer rates are well below the U.S. average.

Congressional proponents of keeping the range open are citing the studies to refute Democratic Party claims that the 60-year-old range poses a health hazard to the residents of Vieques.     

On the other hand, range opponents cite homegrown studies in Puerto Rico that concluded the bombing practices cause a variety of health problems.


U.S. Congress Members Tour Navy's Bombing Range On Vieques

July 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

VIEQUES (AP) - Six U.S. legislators, all Democrats, from New York, California, Ohio and Texas visited along with the nonvoting delegates from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, toured the island municipality of Vieques on Sunday to see the Navy bombing range at the center of a dispute between the United States and the U.S. territory pressing for the Navy's departure.

"All of us understand military preparedness, training, is key," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. "I'd like to see them be able to train and not be in conflict with the people of Vieques." He said the military should find a replacement for Vieques, preferably in an uninhabited area.

Navy Rear Admiral Kevin Green, who was on the tour with the legislators, said the 1999 fatal accident "is an argument for more training."

During the tour, Rep. Gregory Meeks, of New York, said he believes the bombing should stop immediately. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of California, said the bombing should stop until at least the federal government finishes an evaluation of the health effects on residents.

"The message of our visit is that Congress is listening," said Pelosi.

"I support training, but I don't support training at Vieques," Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, of Ohio said.


Sen. Hillary Clinton Urges White House, Navy To Hold Off On Vieques Bombing


July 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton----------
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a press conference Saturday, July 14, 2001, in Puerto Rico, after she visited environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy and a New York labor leader jailed (AP)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the White House to "think through" plans to resume bombing exercises next month on Vieques, citing unfinished health studies.

"Those health studies are still not completed, but bombing is going to begin again on Aug. 1," Clinton said Saturday after arriving in Puerto Rico . "I would certainly urge the administration and the Navy to think through that decision."

Clinton, who supports an immediate end to the bombing, spoke after meeting with protesters jailed for trespassing on Navy lands during bombing exercises, including lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and New York labor leader Dennis Rivera.

The former first lady's one-day visit to Puerto Rico comes as the Navy has notified the local government it will begin a new round of exercises on Vieques Aug. 1.

Clinton also met with Puerto Rican independence leader Ruben Berrios and local pro- statehood Sen. Norma Burgos, who are serving longer sentences, and separately with San Juan Roman Catholic Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves.

Clinton criticized protesters' sentences, saying "I have been troubled by the length of them and in some cases the arbitrary manner in which the proceedings have been carried out."


Navy To Resume Vieques Bombings Three Days After Referendum

July 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc. All rights reserved.
Source: World Reporter (TM)

San Juan - The U.S. Navy will resume military exercises on Vieques in August, just a few days after a referendum on the Navy's presence on the island, Acting Puerto Rico Gov. Ferdinand Mercado announced Saturday.

The training exercises, Mercado said, would span the first 10 to 11 days of August (shorter than the ones carried out for three weeks in June), with low-caliber weapons used in the area east of Vieques , and blanks used on the firing range, according to information provided Mercado by Navy Capt. S. K. Shegrug.

Mercado characterized the Navy's plans as foolish and imprudent, as the Navy is set to resume bombing practice just 72 hours after the July 29 referendum on the future of the Navy on Vieques.


Rum Tax Reimbursement Could Be Used To Prepare Vieques Alternate

July 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - U.S. Sen. James Inhofe recommended the use of the $300 million from the rum tax reimbursement Puerto Rico receives annually to develop an alternate training site to Vieques.

"If we lose the target range [in reference to the U.S. Navy target zone in Vieques], we will use those funds to prepare a similar one in another place." Inhofe said in published reports.

On the issue of his support to the proposal to extend to the island Internal Revenue Code Section 956 benefits, the congressman said Puerto Rico already "receives federal incentives where it have a unique advantage over the rest of the states, like the rum tax reimbursement."

Inhofe added that his decision over rejecting or supporting Section 956 for the island "would depend on what happens with the military zone" in Vieques.

In related matters, Congressman Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) proposed to amend the current legislation over Vieques to enable the Defense Department to retain the eastern side of the municipality to prevent the land ending up in the hands of businessmen related to Gov. Sila Calderon's administration.

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