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Calderon: Praises Vieques Decision, Trusts President’s Word

Burgos: We Can't Let Down Our Guard

Navy Rebuts Activists’ Victory Claim

January Exercises Moved

Bush Reiterates Vieques Commitment

Burgos Released

Gonzalez Rejoins Rangers For $24M

Vieques Decision Appealed


Calderon Praises Decision On Navy's Live Firing

Rowan Scarborough

January 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Washington Times. All rights reserved.

Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon claimed victory this week in her campaign to prevent live-fire training on Vieques Island by the USS John F. Kennedy battle group before it departs for the war on terrorism.

The Navy said Monday the carrier Kennedy's group would not train on Vieques , as requested by the two service chiefs. Instead, the Kennedy air wing and the escorting warships will practice at East Coast ranges.

Miss Calderon's office issued a statement praising the decision.

"The decision by the secretary of the Navy to cancel the military exercises and the use of live bullets on the island of Vieques is a positive response to our protests against the military practices. . . . It is not acceptable to the governor nor the people of Puerto Rico to use live bullets," the statement said.

Governor Urges Puerto Ricans To Believe Bush's Word

By Proviana Colon Diaz

January 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon urged island residents to believe in President George W. Bush's word and put an end to the controversy regarding her efforts for the ousting of the U.S. Navy from Vieques.

"The president has given me his word. I think we should believe Bush's word," Calderon said.

Visibly emotional and at times nearly crying, Calderon again repeated the statement made by Bush to her: "I want to do good for Vieques; I want to do good for Puerto Rico."

Calderon made her statements Thursday upon her return from Washington D.C. where Bush allegedly gave her reassurance of his commitment to halt the Navy military practices on the island municipality of Vieques by 2003.

The governor immediately reacted to her critics, accusing them of lobbying in favor of the Navy.

"Those people who are criticizing what has just happened are the same people who campaigned for the continuation of the bombings to overturn the efforts made by the president and me," Calderon said.

Although a press conference had been scheduled for later in the afternoon at the Puerto Rico Museum of Art, Calderon chose to also address the press at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, where numerous supporters of her administration gathered to receive her. Mayors Association President Jose Aponte, who organized the demonstration, was accompanied by other mayors, including Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano and several legislators of the Popular Democratic Party.

Serrano, who spoke to the crowd gathered at the airport, said he was "most happy and satisfied" with Calderon's achievement to obtain a verbal confirmation of Bush's intentions in regards to the municipality.

The mayor, however, said the struggle for Vieques should continue both in the municipality and the island, and a "unity of purpose" should prevail until the ousting of the Navy from Vieques is achieved.

Calderon agreed to consider Aponte's proposal to create a committee by the government and the municipality of Vieques to outline what to do once the Navy leaves.

Furthermore, Calderon said as governor she can't endorse civil disobedience but added that she respects the decision of those who decide to do so.

Later in the scheduled press conference at the museum, Calderon declined to answer questions that were not related to the issue of Vieques, the federal funds granted for educational purposes on Wednesday, or the artistic community interest.

Burgos: We Can't Let Down Our Guard After Bush's Words

January 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party Sen. Norma Burgos said Thursday that to achieve that the U.S. Navy abandon Vieques, our guard cannot be lowered after the reiterated commitment of President George W. Bush with Gov. Sila Calderon.

"It doesn't have to do with believing or not believing. All the people in these positions have some limitations, but by their own Constitution, they also have to have the wish to do what they have to do and put in practice what their position allows them to," the legislator said.

As opposed to the governor, Burgos does not blindly believe in the word given by the president when he said the Navy will leave Vieques on or before May 2003.

"He is the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, but he is not confronting those subordinates who are being insubordinate at this moment. They did it with former President Bill Clinton, and they're doing it with him in that insistence to remain in the island municipality of Vieques bombing, experimenting, and renting the land to try all types of artifacts," Burgos said in a radio interview.

However, she described as "positive" that the president reiterated to the governor his wish that the Navy leave Vieques, once an alternate training site has been found.

"It is positive that he is maintaining what was discussed between Clinton and former Gov. Pedro Rossello," Burgos said.

Navy Rebuts Activists Victory Claim

By Iván Román San Juan Bureau | Sentinel Staff Writer

January 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Activists and politicians welcomed news Tuesday that the U.S. Navy's John F. Kennedy Battle Group will not train at the Vieques target range this month.

Protesters pushing to stop all bombing exercises and get the Navy out of Vieques had vowed to renew a campaign of civil disobedience if the January training took place, particularly if the Navy used live fire for the first time in almost three years.

But Atlantic Fleet spokesman Capt. Mike Brady said the military decided in October to push up the battle group's deployment schedule to Afghanistan and central Asia, precluding a trip to Vieques.

"We weren't planning on using it," Brady said. "To go down to Vieques requires a longer amount of time than we have available."

January Training Moved From Vieques

January 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Navy training normally held at a disputed firing range on Vieques island will instead be carried out in Florida and North Carolina this month, the Navy said Wednesday.

The USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier and its battle group of ships will train from mid-to-late January at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune and Florida's Pinecastle range, said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Navratil, spokesman for the Navy Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va. He declined to give exact dates.

The bombing exercises will include live ammunition -- not used on the Puerto Rican island since a 1999 accident on the range there killed a civilian guard. The training will include planes dropping bombs, ship-to-shore shelling and amphibious landings by Marines.

``Live fire is essential for us to train our battle groups,'' Navrati said. ``They must have that experience before they go overseas.''

Navratil said the Navy decided months earlier not to use Vieques in January because it would be faster for battle groups based on the East Coast to train in the continental United States. Puerto Rico is about 1,000 miles southeast of Florida.

``After Sept. 11, when we got orders to begin deploying aircraft carrier battle groups ahead of schedule, we knew the John F. Kennedy Battle Group would deploy early,'' Navratil said. ``To meet their timeline, the Navy decided Vieques would not be used.''

He would not comment on whether the Navy decided against Vieques to avoid tension with Navy opponents and the Puerto Rican government.

Bush Reassures Calderon On His Commitment To Vieques

January 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon said Wednesday that President George W. Bush has given her reassurance of his commitment to halt the U.S. Navy military practices on the island municipality of Vieques by 2003.

"This is extraordinary news for Puerto Rico," Calderon said during a press conference in Washington D.C. following her meeting with Bush. "It's something good and something that I've always trusted."

Calderon said Bush's reassurances open new grounds to continue the efforts to have the Navy withdraw from Vieques "as soon as possible."

The governor also stated that the president's words have cleared away any doubts intentionally created by some politicians who claimed the Navy would never leave Vieques because of the war against terrorism and in Afghanistan.

Calderon said Bush confirmed his commitment during a private meeting Wednesday afternoon with several governors, senators, and cabinet members prior to signing into law a bill to provide economic aid to students of low-income families.

"Looking me in the eye he told me his commitment to halt the military practices on Vieques by or before 2003 stood firm and that he would keep his word," Calderon assured. "I return to Puerto Rico inspired by the words of the president."

The president's commitment, however, is subject to the approval of Congress.

On Dec. 12, Congress cancelled the federal referendum to decide the future of the Navy's live practices on Vieques and left it up to the secretary of the Navy to close their facilities if an equivalent or superior site was found elsewhere.

At that time, the governor said she was "disappointed" by the text of the bill approved by Congress.

Burgos Finishes Jail Time For Vieques Protest

January 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 EFE News Service. All rights reserved.
Distributed via COMTEX News

San Juan, Jan 09, 2002 (EFE via COMTEX) - Sen. Norma Burgos was released from jail in Guaynabo, west of San Juan, where she was greeted by dozens of people.

Upon leaving the jail Tuesday, a day earlier than scheduled, Burgos called her early release a "trick" by U.S. officials.

Authorities were "very concerned (that) a large number of people" would be present on Wednesday, Burgos said.

The senator from the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) was jailed Dec. 21 to complete the final 20 days of her 60-day sentence for trespassing on military property on the southeastern Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Juan Gonzalez Rejoins Texas Rangers For $24 Million

January 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 REUTERS. All rights reserved.

ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - Cleveland free agent slugger Juan Gonzalez was lured back to the team where he began his career Tuesday, signing a $24 million two year deal with the Texas Rangers where he spent nearly ten years.

The American League Most Valuable Player with Texas in 1996 and 1998 and one of the season's biggest free agent prizes, Gonzalez spurned offers from the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles to rejoin the team he left in 1999.

After signing a one-year $10 million deal with Cleveland last season, Gonzalez hit .315 slamming 35 homers and driving in 140 runs to lead the Indians to the Central division crown.

The 32-year-old outfielder, one of the league’s top power hitters, has a career average of .295 with 397 homers and 1,282 RBI.

Government Appeals Kessler's Decision On Case Against Navy

January 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez announced Tuesday that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico filed a written appeal to revoke U.S. District Court Judge in Washington D.C. Gladys Kessler's decision regarding the Noise Prohibition Law in Vieques.

Two weeks ago, Kessler dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Puerto Rico government against the U.S. Navy for alleged violations to the local Noise Prohibition Law.

"The appeal request was filed Monday at the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia," Rodriguez confirmed in a prepared statement.

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