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Agitated Over Bombing Politics…Lear Jet Liberals…Vieques Alternative, Ignored…Protesters: Stay Out!…Do The Right Thing…Range Bought


Agitated Over Vieques' Anti-Bombing Politics

August 6, 2001
Copyright © 2001 NEW YORK POST. All Rights Reserved.

    Who will support the Viequeans who relied on the maneuvers for their livelihood ("A Little Mas Bombas," Editorial, Aug. 1)? If we can't train on Vieques, we don't need the naval base at Roosevelt Roads. What about the citizens of Puerto Rico who are employed at that base? If the vote taken at Vieques was without the agitators present, the majority would have voted for the continuation of training on their island. The only good coming from this is that after Robert Kennedy Jr. had his newborn son baptized with the middle name "Vieques," we can be thankful the training exercises were not held on Guadalcanal.

    W.T. Gluck
    Garden City

    Since the fine citizens of Vieques don't want the Navy any more, perhaps the Navy should close the Navy Base at Roosevelt Roads. Also, since several prominent New York politicians made clear their distaste for the Navy and its use of Vieques, the Navy should honor their wishes and move July 4th Fleet Week to another eastern seaboard port.

    Jim Mensching
    Virginia Beach, Va.

    I wonder how long it will be after the bombing ends and the military moves out that they will start requesting money to clean up the bomb site?

    Richard Muller
    Elizabeth, N.J.

    At the center of the concerns voiced by people in Vieques about the Navy's bombing range are the high rates of cadmium, lead, mercury, uranium and other contaminants in the soil, food chain and bodies of residents. A study last year showed that 44 percent out of 49 Vieques residents tested had toxic levels of mercury in hair samples. The Navy's violations of environmental and civil-rights laws in Vieques have led to half a dozen lawsuits and nearly 2,000 administrative tort claims, besides more than 1,000 cases of civil disobedience. The Navy must be held accountable for the contamination it has caused in Vieques. Congress should fund a full cleanup, which is necessary for the protection of public health, whatever happens to the land.

    John Lindsay-Poland
    San Francisco, Calif.

Lear Jet Liberals

Inside Politics
Greg Pierce

August 6, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE WASHINGTON TIMES. All Rights Reserved.

     Centrist Democrats are aghast as wealthy liberals such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mario Cuomo and national party Chairman Terry McAuliffe fly down to Puerto Rico to lend support for booting the Navy out of its Vieques island training grounds, the New York Times reports.

     President Bush already has announced that the Navy will quit Vieques in May 2003. But Mr. McAuliffe demands that the United States withdraw immediately. "This is a civil rights issue," he said.

     Sen. Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat, thinks Mr. McAuliffe has it all wrong. "It's a military preparedness issue," Mr. Cleland said.

     Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he feels sympathy for the people of Vieques but opposes calls to leave the island immediately.

     "We can't afford to send our men and women into harm's way without the proper training," Mr. Reyes said.

     Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas Democrat, was dismayed by Mr. McAuliffe's words and actions. "He may be doing this at the expense of other Democrats," Mr. Ortiz said. "We do not want to be seen as anti-military because we are not."

     Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi Democrat, said many Democrats see the Vieques issue as a way of winning over Hispanic voters even if it hurts military preparedness.

     "That's pandering of the worst sort," Mr. Taylor told reporter Raymond Hernandez. "It's one of the reasons that I've gone out of my way as a Democrat to say that the views expressed by Terry McAuliffe and some of my colleagues are wrong."

Letters to the editor

Vieques alternative

August 7, 2001
Copyright © 2001 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.

The mention of Avon Park as a possible site to replace Vieques is misleading.

Avon Park is only a bombing range -- a long distance from the ocean. It would not allow for close air support -- a vital part of the exercises.

Vieques allows the military to exercise on land, sea and air all at the same time.

The deep water accommodates the naval vessels, and amphibious craft are able to land and cross the beaches.

It is going to be very difficult to find another location with all the features of Vieques for military training purposes. I know because I have been there.

Norman Gertz


Vieques ignored

August 8, 2001
Copyright © 2001 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Ex-President Clinton had eight years to do something about Vieques, and he waited until he was leaving office to leave President Bush with this problem.

President Bush is responding more than Clinton did in eight years.

The biased news media and cable channels all showed ex-President Clinton moving into his Harlem office recently. At the same time President Bush was speaking to the black law enforcement officers. Where was this report?

Mary Collins


Protesters: Stay out!

August 8, 2001
Copyright © 2001The State Journal-Register Springfield, IL. All Rights Reserved.

Dear Editor,

I have been on the island of Vieques for training. What I saw of the island where training takes place are great beaches. I can understand why Puerto Ricans would want this area for tourism. The rest of the range won't grow a cactus.

U.S. publicity seekers stay out of it!

Gordon Lugibill


U.S.: Do the Right Thing

August 11, 2001
Copyright © 2001Newsday. All Rights Reserved.

The residents of Vieques have made their wishes known in a peaceful and mature exercise of their democratic rights ["Voice of Vieques ," July 30]. The vast majority of them had shunned demonstrations, but they braved a tropical storm to cast their ballots, producing - at 80 percent - the highest turnout for any referendum held in Puerto Rico . Equally dramatic were the results: 60 percent for the immediate withdrawal of the Navy; 30 percent for its indefinite stay; and 1.7 percent for its departure in May 2003.

To now hold the Nov. 6 referendum would diminish the democratic process. Congress would be forcing the voters to choose between two options they have already rejected, while denying them the third choice they have made. We cannot credibly preach democracy around the world while ignoring its expression in our own backyard.

Announcing his decision a few weeks ago to withdraw the Navy from Vieques in May of 2003 and calling for the cancellation of the November referendum, President George W. Bush made a characteristically simple statement. He said, "These are our friends and neighbors, and they don't want us there." The president would be taking the moral high ground again - and Congress should join him in this - by acknowledging the results of the recent referendum as the legitimate, democratically expressed wishes of the inhabitants of Vieques .

Such a gesture would be a credit to our country. The people of Vieques voted in full knowledge that their vote was juridically irrelevant, but they have enough faith in the United States to believe in the moral force of casting a ballot. If people cannot cast ballots and be acknowledged, must they then cast stones?

Ray Agostini

Vieques Range Bought, Paid For By U.S. Navy

by Eagle staff and news services

August 11, 2001
Copyright © 2001Wichita Eagle. All Rights Reserved.

Is it true that the Navy bought, paid for and owns the bombing range land on Vieques Island that Puerto Rico now wants the Navy to abandon?

The U.S. government did buy about 25,000 acres - about two-thirds of the Puerto Rican island - in the 1940s to create a bombing range. The Navy says it paid fair market price, primarily to two large sugar plantation owners, Eastern Sugar Associates and Juan Angel Tio.

In the view of many, however, the Navy appropriated the land, forcing out poor families with little compensation. Some were compensated if they chose to make a claim, but few did.

Aided by a $40 million appropriation from Congress last year, the Navy has hired people for new jobs on Vieques, paid fishermen for income lost during military exercises, and made donations to various causes.

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