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PuertoRicoWOW News Service

Calderon Denies Allegations That She Threatened Vieques Leaders

By Proviana Colon Diaz

October 11, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon denied fisherman Carlos Zenon's allegations that she threatened Vieques leaders to express themselves in favor of the Nov. 6 federal referendum or she would leave them alone.

Zenon, who is one of the 11 Vieques residents in the case before San Juan Superior Court Judge Sonia Velez, requested the court to overrule the local law enabling the referendum. Late Friday, Velez ordered the State Elections Commission to stop organizing the federal referendum in Vieques.

Following an hour-long meeting with Calderon on Tuesday, all the leaders except Zenon agreed with the governor in that eliminating the referendum without the certainty of a language that establishes a date for the departure of the U.S. Navy is unacceptable at the moment.

On Wednesday, Zenon denounced that the rest of the Vieques leaders' change of thought was due to more than 40 minutes of "arm-and-leg twisting" by Calderon in favor of the referendum.

"That is absolutely false," Calderon said.

When the question was rephrased to ask if she was caving into the interest of the Navy, Calderon denied the allegation anew.

"I said it was false," the governor said.

Despite the open difference between Zenon and the rest of the Vieques leaders over Calderon's position regarding the referendum, the governor does not think that such controversy will divide the anti-Navy movement.

On the contrary, Calderon thinks the people of Puerto Rico are untied in their desire of "peace for Vieques," but that they are also united in solidarity with the American nation following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We as American citizens must understand that the priority at the moment is the campaign against terrorism, and in that I am in total solidarity with President George W. Bush," Calderon said.

In fact, Calderon said she was pro-Navy.

"I am not anti-Navy, and neither is my government. I am anti-live bomb practices in Vieques," Calderon said.

In related matters, Calderon recently described all Puerto Ricans who lobby in Congress in favor of the continuation of military practices in Vieques as "traitors," though she denied to identify them.

Being that House New Progressive Party Minority Leader Edison Misla Aldarondo left the island Wednesday for Washington D.C. to lobby in favor of several issues, including the continuation of military practices in Vieques until 2003, Calderon was asked if he was one of such traitors.

After a long pause, Calderon declined to identify him as such but added that all those who "are showing their faces with positions" other than the one expressed by Bush, who has said he would like the Navy to leave Vieques on or before May 2003, "will have to assume their responsibility."

"I am not a person that characterizes anyone with a name and a last name, and I won't enter any controversy. Vieques is a theme that should unite us, and it should not be a theme for political policy," said Calderon, who has been accused by the opposition of taking advantage of the Vieques issue to win the electoral race of 2000.


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