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The San Juan Star

Is Puerto Rico Willing To Give America What It Really Needs?

By Miriam J. Ramirez

September 20, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The San Juan Star. All Rights Reserved.

Governor Calderon has placed full-page advertisements in Washington newspapers to publicize Puerto Rico's contributions to the rescue effort in New York. It is reported that other state and territorial Governors have not felt the need to take credit for doing the very least that is expected during a national emergency. Some foreign governments have placed ads, but Puerto Rico alone placed an ad that some saw as an attempt to „take credit‰ for support given to rescue efforts.

We all are very proud of our rescue teams that went to New York.

But why does Puerto Rico's Governor feel the need for a public relations campaign in Washington? The answer is pretty obvious.

For months Sila Calderon and some of the other political, civic and religious leaders in her separatist camp have been denying that they have an anti-Navy and anti-U.S. agenda. At the same time they looked the other way as a small fanatical group of anti-federal radicals committed acts of violence against Navy personnel, and targeted Navy property and operations for sabotage.

Relying upon unproven allegations of health effects from Navy training, and irresponsible claims that the Navy no longer needs Vieques, the Governor has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of our most senior military commanders. Instead, the Governor listened to that well-known military "expert" Bobby Kennedy Jr., who said the kind of warfare training conducted at Vieques is obsolete in today's world.

While she orchestrated chaos in Vieques, our Governor turned her back on the appeals from senior officers who have risked their lives in combat. She ignored them even as they risked their careers to tell their civilian superiors in Washington that Vieques is needed to protect lives of our people in combat and ensure that military targets are destroyed.

What a difference a day makes. Now we face a war in which surgical air strikes may make the difference between victory and defeat.

Suddenly the wealthy darling of the leftist elite, Bobby Kennedy Jr., needs to decide whether or not he should enlist, or let other young men do the fighting for him. That will include pilots denied the best possible training due to interference with Navy readiness training at Vieques, which he encouraged with his publicity stunt arrest and 30 day media campaign from the jailhouse. What will Bobby say to the wives and children of Navy pilots who don't come home because they were denied realistic live fire training experience at Vieques?

His father served in the Navy and his uncles were Navy heroes, after getting the best training possible before going in harm's way.

Yet, in magazine after magazine Bobby looks bold and brave in the staged pictures taken by publicity photographers as he rode boats into the path of Navy trainees at Vieques, putting those duty-bound men and women at risk even as they prepared to go to war in his place.

And now the Governor of Puerto Rico also needs a high-priced public relations team to rehabilitate her administration's image at taxpayer expense, since she has been caught with her true colors as a separatist showing. Indeed, given her record in office it must have been very awkward for our Governor when Senator Hillary Clinton stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate the day after the attack on America and told the world, "You are either with America in our time of need or you are not".

But both Senator Clinton and Governor Calderon, as well as all the other New York politicians who have groveled for votes of the left wing anti-Navy elements of the New York Puerto Rican community, must now ask themselves one question. What is it that America in this time of crisis really needs from Puerto Rico?

We all know the answer. There is just one thing that Puerto Rico has to offer that is uniquely Puerto Rican, and that New York and the nation can not get any other way: Pilot training at Vieques.

Of course, we all want to send rescue teams, and certainly New York will want Puerto Rico to know that gesture is appreciated. But the emergency assistance Puerto Rico provides is not what New York and America most need from Puerto Rico.

Similarly, U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico may want to enlist, and I am sure that the military wants U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico to serve, as they have every time duty has called. But the critical manpower needs of the armed forces will be met with or without Puerto Rico's finest.

It is the pilot training at Vieques that the military absolutely needs from Puerto Rico. There is no alternative training option in this hour of peril for our nation.

The Governor pretends to seek consensus on our legal and political relations with the rest of the nation, with gimmicks that are costly to taxpayers and legally and useless. If she wants to seek a meaningful consensus that would truly unite our people both locally and with the rest of our nation, Governor Calderon should ask the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to support unrestricted live fire training at Vieques.

This is what the U.S. needs from Puerto Rico. At the very least this should be proposed by Puerto Rico and remain effective until the President of the United States certifies to Congress that Vieques is no longer needed to train the pilots who will fight for our liberty in the war against terrorism. At that time the debate over the future of Vieques could be resumed.

I hereby call on Governor Calderon to propose this arrangement to President Bush immediately, so that America and the world will know that in the face of great evil and danger to our nation Puerto Rico is willing to give America what it really needs.

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