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Protesters Remain Jailed

Governor: Tear Gas Unacceptable

Navy Uses Gas On Protesters

Gonzalez Sworn In To N.Y. Appeals Court

Vieques Economic Development Pushed

Carrion Urges Trespass

Islamic Group Denounces Support For Israel

Political Cost Of Bush Reneging On Vieques High

Vieques Protesters To Remain Jailed

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – A Catholic nun and a Puerto Rican Independent Party (PIP) activist returned to the Metropolitan Detention Center Monday without bail until April 22, when the current round of U.S. Navy maneuvers are expected to finish in Vieques.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Gustavo Gelpi made the decision after the prosecutor’s office requested restrictions for the two repeat offenders.

Three other activists were released on a $3,000 bail. None of them are allowed to return to Vieques until April 22 or engage in civil disobedience while they wait for trial.

Caguas Diocese Sister Carmen Gonzalez was arrested and sentenced in August 2000 for time served.

For his part, PIP activist Ismael Gonzalez Rodriguez, a third-time offender from Camuy, was also sent to prison until April 22, when the bail hearing will be held.

Prosecutor Jorge Vega Pacheco affirmed that for the safety of the community and of the accused, they should be forbidden from returning to Vieques.

According to the prosecutor, Gonzalez Rodriguez, 67, resisted arrest.

Gonzalez Rodriguez engaged in civil disobedience on April 5 accompanied by Luis Silva Gonzalez, 58, and Miguel Sanchez, 49.

Since the renewal of the U.S. Navy military maneuvers last Monday, 14 people have been arrested.

Governor Deems Use Of Tear Gas As Unacceptable

April 7th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon strongly repudiated Sunday that the U.S. Navy use tear gas against demonstrators who peacefully express their opposition to the military practices on Vieques.

Calderon said such action is "unacceptable" because it constitutes a "violation of civil rights" against people who are expressing themselves in a peaceful way.

"I simply repudiate these acts of the U.S. Navy with all of my strength," the governor stated.

She also announced that she has communicated her indignation to U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Kevin Green, adding that she intends to go to the "highest levels" in Washington D.C. to let her censorship be known. However, Calderon declined to offer details on the matter.

According to the governor, Green "insists that there was a provocation from the activists' part," something that Calderon rejected based on the reports she received from the local police.

The Navy has reiterated that version through its spokesman Lt. Corey Barker, who assured that the military only acted when necessary and that Saturday's incidents were to repel the stone-throwing activists.

For her part, Calderon affirmed the tear gas attacks against anti-Navy demonstrators were not provoked.

"I told the admiral that it is impossible for the U.S. Navy to always be right and for the Puerto Rico government to always we wrong. The law of probabilities alone makes it impossible," said the governor.

On the other hand, she reiterated that the official in charge of the military Camp Garcia in Vieques, John Warneky reaffirmed to Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira his commitment to keep the military security personnel at a greater-than-usual distance from the fence that separates the military land from the civil community.

Also, the governor said the local police will be in charge of "ensuring tranquility to everyone there and to do it with the utmost sensibility."

More than a hundred activists received on Saturday an intense discharge of tear gas while participating in a peaceful protest against the military practices that are being performed on that island municipality.

Several hours earlier, a person resulted with an open wound in the head attributed to an aluminum can of tear gas.

"It is totally unacceptable for the people of Puerto Rico and for the government of Puerto Rico that military agents be throwing gas or rubber bullets against people who are peacefully manifesting themselves in Vieques," the governor insisted.

Among the group that was dispersed by the tear gas were some 150 members of the Puerto Rican National Coalition.

The governor expressed her concern to the leaders of the coalition that groups Puerto Ricans living in the mainland, and asked Puerto Rican National Coalition President Manuel Mirabal to express her concern to coalition members.

Navy Uses Gas On Puerto Rico Protesters


April 7th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
REUTERS. All rights reserved.  

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - A protest involving about 50 people at one of the camps established by demonstrators near the front gate of the Camp Garcia military reservation was interrupted on Saturday by Navy security personnel shooting gas canisters from within the restricted zone.

Despite contrary eyewitness accounts, Navy spokesman Lt. Corey Barker said CS gas spray was launched on Saturday after protesters threw ``rocks and debris at Navy vehicles.''

When told rock throwing occurred after Navy security dispersed the crowd with gas, he added: ``If there is an imminent danger that the crowd is going to throw rocks or break down the fence, then gas will be sprayed to disperse the crowd. Gas is used to disperse a threatening crowd.''

Demonstrators were observed taunting the sailors before the gas was used. After the crowd was dispersed, a few protesters came back and threw rocks, prompting Navy personnel to fire more gas.

A barbed-wire fence, and a line of Puerto Rico police officers separated the military security personnel from protesters, who included members of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, a group of Puerto Rican political and civic leaders from the United States making a one-day visit to the island.


Dozens of protesters and journalists fled the gas, and at least two people affected by the gas were treated at a local clinic, protesters said.

Two Puerto Rico officials said the Navy reaction was too strong.

``They are provoking the situation,'' Police Col. Cesar Gracia said of the Navy security personnel, adding that reports of rock-throwing by protesters were false.

``I witnessed the incident, and there was no rock-throwing. Right now, my superiors are on the phone to complain to the Navy about the situation,'' Gracia said.

Juan Fernandez, the commonwealth government's special commissioner charged with overseeing Navy military exercises, said he believes security on Camp Garcia has been increased and that security personnel have been given orders to take a firmer approach against trespassers and protesters.

``They are using exaggerated, unnecessary force and violating people's constitutional rights,'' he said, adding he would make a formal complaint to Navy officials.

Commonwealth officials are also complaining that military officials are unnecessarily using pepper spray and aggressive treatment against trespassers arrested on Navy property.

Barker, who declined comment on security levels on Vieques, said training had not been interrupted by protests this week.

Puerto Rican Judge Sworn In To New York Court Of Appeals

EFE News Service

April 6th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 COMTEX News. All rights reserved.

New York, Apr 5 (EFE) - Puerto Rican judge Luis Gonzalez became the second Hispanic member of the New York Court of Appeals on Friday, in a ceremony in the Bronx attended by New York Gov. George Pataki.

Gonzalez was sworn in to his new position, becoming the only Hispanic judge appointed by Pataki.

In 1993, Gonzalez was appointed to the Bronx Supreme Court and has been its administrative judge since 1999, the only Hispanic to be elected to that position in the entire state.

Gonzalez took the oath flanked by his children and in front of a large group of Appellate Court and Bronx Supreme Court judges and a large public audience packing the courtroom.

A large number of friends, bailiffs, politicians and community leaders - many of them Hispanic - were present to show their support for Gonzalez, who graduated from the Columbia University Law School in 1975.

Former Bronx Borough Presidents Herman Badillo and Fernando Ferrer also attended, as did Puerto Rican former judge John Carro, who was the first Hispanic to be appointed to the New York State Court of Appeals.

Activists Call For Economic Development Of Vieques

EFE News Service

April 6th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 COMTEX News. All rights reserved.

San Juan, Apr 5 (EFE) - Activists opposed to U.S. Navy training exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques said at a forum on Friday that the island's economy should be developed after the military leaves.

The island has been at the center of a prolonged battle between activists who want the Navy to stop war games there and the U.S. government, which has drafted a plan to stop the exercises in 2003.

The forum was held during the annual convention of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, which is made up of political, union, business, civil and student leaders.

Sociologist Lileana Cotto, a member of a group that seeks to develop the Vieques economy, said it is necessary to promote a healthy environmentally-friendly economy that will benefit residents rather than large companies.

She stressed that Vieques residents should be trained for administrative and management positions instead of "cooking and washing dishes, as is the case with the residents of other Caribbean islands."

Meanwhile, Bronx borough President Adolfo Carrion suggested asking the U.S. government to declare Vieques a disaster zone, due to contamination from decades of live-ammunition training exercises.

He suggested that the island's economic development should include promotion of tourism and restoration efforts.

Participants at the forum also discussed improvement of the island's agricultural sector by establishing economic ties with New York's fruit and food markets, as well as the cleaning of contaminated lands.

Some say the contamination is the cause of the island's high cancer rate.

Bronx Official Urges Protesters To Trespass Navy Land

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 5th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW News. All rights reserved.

New York Bronx County President Adolfo Carrion urged protesters to trespass on U.S. Navy land in Vieques in an attempt to halt the military practices, despite the fact that he will not personally engage in this felony during his visit to the island municipality Friday.

Last May, Carrion and three other Hispanic politicians engaged in what protesters call an act of "civil disobedience." He said it is not his duty to repeat this practice now.

"I will not go in. I already did my act of civil disobedience. . .We now have to continue working from the outside and continue protesting," Carrion said.

Although he believes in President George W. Bush’s vow of the Navy's departure from Vieques on or before May 2003, he will send him a letter asking him to put his statements in writing.

Carrion made his statements Thursday prior to entering a meeting at La Fortaleza with Gov. Sila Calderon.

Calderon was also to meet with U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-NY, who failed to attend the meeting for personal reasons.

Carrion overwhelmingly endorsed Calderon’s action in regards to the Vieques issue, arguing that she continues to work in favor of the ousting of the Navy from the municipality, while at the same time thinking of its future.

The leader added that Calderon is ultimately thinking about Vieques' well-being because she must guarantee benefits for the island municipality once the Navy leaves.

"The governor has to act with moderation in her negotiations with Washington in order to achieve other objectives," Carrion said.

Islamic Group Denounces U.S. Support For Israel Invasion

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 5th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW News. All rights reserved.

Members of the Islamic community in Puerto Rico marched outside the Capitol on Friday to denounce U.S. support for Israel’s invasion of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s headquarters.

Islamic community spokesman Abdel Hfez said Jewish control of the U.S. media prevents island residents from seeing the other side of the story, that of the "salvage killing of Palestinians."

"This is a calling to all those who love their brothers. Please help us stop the massacre of the Palestinian people," Hfez said.

Carrying Palestinian flags and posters calling for a halt to the war, several dozen Islamic people marched at the Capitol’s north side plaza.

Hfez said although the nearly 3,000 members of the Islamic community in Puerto Rico are not directly affected by the war, their lives have been changed by the conflict because they are worried constantly by the "ongoing killings."

"The food is placed at our tables every night, but one can seldom eat when faced with all that massacre, all the blood of our people," Hfez said.

Not Necessary For Bush To Put Vieques Expression In Writing

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 5th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW News. All rights reserved.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said Friday that it is not necessary for President George W. Bush to put his verbal expression regarding the ousting of the U.S. Navy from Vieques in writing, because the political cost of changing his position would be too high.

"While Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and environmental leaders in the United States maintain their position, I trust the president will not change his position because the political cost will be too high," Acevedo Vila said.

Acevedo Vila’s statement comes one day after New York Bronx County President Adolfo Carrion said he will issue a letter to the president requesting that he put his statements in writing.

The resident commissioner added that although the written statement is not necessary, he will welcome it if it comes.

Acevedo Vila said even a written statement, such as an executive order, is not a guarantee.

Still, Bush did sign a law which stated that the Navy will remain in Vieques until an alternative site is found.

The resident commissioner held the island’s "moral and political strength" responsible for convincing the president.

Acevedo Vila made his statements Friday following his participation in the National Puerto Rican Coalition’s annual convention at an Isla Verde hotel.

Although he was invited to speak at a lunch forum on economic development for the island, Acevedo Vila took the opportunity to urge coalition members to continue working in favor of putting an end to Navy exercises in Vieques.

Meanwhile, Acevedo Vila said he does not foresee that a bill aimed at exempting the Navy of compliance with local environmental laws will be approved in the U.S. Congress.

"This is obviously being promoted by the more pro-Navy sectors, but I doubt it will have the votes to be approved in the Senate and the House," Acevedo Vila said.

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