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The Navy Isn't Puerto Rico’s Real Problem

Puerto Rico Should Have Been A State Long Ago

Puerto Rican Pride

Let’s Not Get Rid Of P.R.

The Navy Isn't Puerto Rico’s Real Problem


July 9, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Star-Ledger Newark, NJ. All Rights Reserved.

SPEAKING UP Politicians and activists give the impression that every time the Navy has target practice at its firing range on Vieques , Puerto Rico , the poor people of the island must scramble for their safety. Most of these pronouncements are made to further political agendas.

Having lived in Puerto Rico for 27 years as a businessman, with no political agenda and no ax to grind, I believe I can give an objective assessment of the Navy presence in Puerto Rico .

The Vieques firing range occupies only 900 acres, or 2.7 percent, of the land owned by the Navy. It is more than eight miles from the nearest town. In nearly 60 years of operations, not one civilian living or working outside the range has been killed or placed at risk.

Vieques is not the only place where a range is near a civilian community. The Warren Grove range in Ocean County, one of the busiest in the nation, is only about two miles from neighbors' homes.

Another claim of anti-Navy groups is that the firing has harmed the health of Vieques residents. There has been no verifiable information to sustain these claims. One report used to support such claims compares the infant mortality rate in Vieques with that for mainland Puerto Rico . The report left out a three-year period to produce the desired results.

The claim that the Navy has cramped the growth of Vieques couldn't be farther from the truth. The Navy has always been a good neighbor to Vieques and Puerto Rico . The naval station at Roosevelt Roads is eastern Puerto Rico 's largest employer, with more than 2,000 direct civilian workers. There are also many civilians working for the Navy in Vieques ; the employment rate on Vieques is 2 percent better than Puerto Rico 's. The Navy has transferred some of its land to Vieques and has always helped Puerto Rico in any disaster.

The so-called Vieques problem is nothing but a rallying point for anti-American activists, who want to stir nationalistic sentiments.

With commonwealthers now in total control of Puerto Rico 's government, Vieques is only the start. Commonwealthers have desires for independence but don't have the courage to petition for such status. They like U.S. programs that bring about $15 billion a year to Puerto Rico without the burden of federal income tax. They also tout their right to select federal laws considered favorable to the island.

Vieques and the Navy are not the problem; commonwealth political status is.

This problem will not be solved until our government offers the Puerto Rican people only two alternatives: independence and statehood. I urge American taxpayers to write their congressional representatives and the White House to help solve this situation once and for all.

Jose Perez of Fords is a retired businessman.


Puerto Rican Status

July 9, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. All Rights Reserved.

    Four of the most enjoyable months of my life were spent in a Puerto Rican rain forests training for the Peace Corps. I have not met as friendly a people nor appreciated them more than the hundreds of hospitable Puerto Ricans I encountered there. Since that time I have been an ardent supporter of statehood, because that is what the majority of Puerto Ricans I met wanted. That was 30 years ago and Puerto Rico is not a state even though Puerto Ricans have always been citizens.

    I have never been ashamed of America's relationship with Puerto Rico. That relationship has enhanced the lives of all Puerto Ricans, even those who have never lived there. What would Puerto Rico be today if it was not fortunate enough to be liberated and annexed by the U.S. after the Spanish American War? The population of all Puerto Ricans -- island and mainland -- would be 25 percent of what it is now. The economy would be not much better than that which exists in Haiti. The land would be denuded by a populace living in abject poverty under a ruling oligarchy that would control all productive resources. There would be no sophisticated tourist industry or any industrial, social or civil infrastructure.

    Puerto Rico should have been a state long ago. It is not a state because its economy and citizens enjoy the economic advantages of being a territory. It is time to have one last vote -- statehood or independence.

    The only thing the United States has ever extracted from the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rican descent is the use of Vieques for naval training. Such facilities are wanted in every other state because of the revenue they generate. These few dissenters do not represent the Puerto Ricans I met.

Park City


Puerto Rican Pride

July 10, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Newsday Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It is a pleasure to read an article from such an articulate person as Pedro A. Caban, but I must disagree that the solution to Puerto Rico's problems is independence ["Give Puerto Rico Its Independence," Viewpoints, June 15]. That would be like amputatating a person's leg when his only malady is an ingrown toenail. If independence were so great, why would so many people risk their lives in leaky dinghies or put themselves at the mercy of murderous "coyotes"? All this to reach this great country, which we sometimes take for granted, in order to benefit from its opportunities.

We, as Puerto Ricans, have never had to endure such trials and tribulations. Being here has not been a bed of roses, but we have been American citizens since 1917. We have fought in every major conflict, yet we are met with racist and ignorant comments on a daily basis.

Having lived 12 years in Puerto Rico and 25 years here in America, I believe I understand how Puerto Ricans think. Most Puerto Ricans are satisfied with the territorial status . Fear is not the reason that Puerto Ricans haven't broken from the United States. It's plain logic and intelligence.

When you think of independence, remember all our Dominican, Cuban, Haitian and other immigrant friends who died trying to escape their independent countries. If Puerto Ricans would stop fighting, bickering and wrangling for scraps left at the dinner table and see the big picture, we could achieve our goals for a better island. We deserve and should demand the respect, representation in government and all the benefits that mainland citizens enjoy.

More than 10,000 Puerto Ricans died in Vietnam, from a total of about 60,000 deaths . The pride of being Puerto Rican - its heritage, its history and its language - parallels that of being an American. I have the good fortune to feel them both, but when it comes down to the truth, we are U.S. citizens, plain and simple. Independence is a pipe dream. Let's unite and tackle the real problems in Puerto Rico.

Kevin Enriquez


Let's not get rid of Puerto Rico

Perry Perez, North Lauderdale

July 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

I read, with a combination of amusement and chagrin, a recent letter to the editor where the writer opined that the United States should "get rid of Puerto Rico," since "they offer us nothing." How unfortunate that a citizen of the United States proposes to diminish our country by asking us to eject other citizens of the United States, based on his own uninformed position. Didn't the Union and Confederacy once feel the same way toward each other?

The writer is obviously ignorant of the fact that the men and women of Puerto Rico, all U.S. citizens, have proven their mettle through combat in all major U.S. wars, where many paid the ultimate price. How sad that the Vieques issue has provided a convenient smokescreen for ill-disguised bigotry.

Here's an idea: let the Navy bomb Sanibel Island, or Martha's Vineyard. Then we can petition the government to withdraw the U.S. citizenship of those residents if they protest. Any takers? I thought not.

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