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Activists Arrested Sent To Jail

McGreevey, Calderon Urge Child Immunization, P.R. Voter Registration

Navy Begins Exercises While Protests Fizzle In Wake Of 9/11

Fajardo Summoned To Testify

Puerto Rico Presses For Demilitarization Of Vieques

Calderon Urged To Designate Special Commission

Says NPP Leaders Not Above The Law

Activists Arrested In Vieques Sent To Jail

September 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – U.S. District Court Magistrate Jesus Castellano ordered the that the five Anti Navy activists that trespassed U.S. Navy restricted land be sent to jail after being arrested on Tuesday morning, before the resumption of military maneuvers on the island municipality.

The activists arrested, all members of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), were immediately sent to the Guaynabo Detention Center until hearing in the case is scheduled.

"The government has given up on this issue and we have to maintain the pressure on the Navy because otherwise the Navy would not go. We have to oust it", said Hector Gonzalez Pereira, member of the PIP political committee before being arrested.

The arrested, all men, were seen by military police patrolling the area. They were immediately arrested and handcuffed.

The other men arrested were identified as Fermin Candelario, of Peñuelas; Rafael Figueroa, of San Juan; Silfredo Velez, of San Sebastian, and Jaime Lopez from Las Marias said the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Executive Director Fernando Martin.

Martin stated that civil disobedience is the most effective method to maintain pressure over U.S. officials and the U.S. Navy.

McGreevey, Calderon Urge Child Immunization, Puerto Rican Voter Registration


September 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - Citing successes in Puerto Rico, Gov. James E. McGreevey launched an effort Tuesday to increase the percentage of New Jersey children that are immunized against diseases like polio, measles, mumps and rubella.

Joined by Puerto Rican Gov. Sila M. Calderon, McGreevey said New Jersey's 78 percent immunization rate should be increased to 90 percent by the end of 2004. Under Calderon, Puerto Rico has achieved an immunization rate of 98 percent, McGreevey said.

Calderon said McGreevey is taking the right steps to increase New Jersey's rate.

"You have a good rate here. But the governor wants to make it better," Calderon said.

At an appearance in Paterson later Tuesday, McGreevey and Calderon also announced the start of a drive to register New Jersey residents of Puerto Rican descent to vote.

The theme of the campaign is "Que Nada Nos Detenga," or "Let Nothing Stop Us." Calderon said it will combine community outreach efforts with an aggressive communications campaign.

There are 366,788 Puerto Ricans living in New Jersey, according to Calderon's office.

Navy Begins War Exercises On Vieques While Protests Fizzle In Wake Of Sept. 11 Attacks


September 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

VIEQUES , Puerto Rico (AP) - Fighter jets buzzed over Vieques on Tuesday as activists shied away from their usual raucous protests, fearful of stiff jail sentences and fines in a post-Sept. 11 climate.

Pilots practiced fly-overs, U.S. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Kim Dixon said, while the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and 11 other ships would likely practice shelling the bombing range on Wednesday. The exercises, the third since Sept. 11, are expected to last for 23 days.

Since a civilian guard was killed by an errant Navy bomb in April 1999, hundreds have tried to thwart the exercises by breaking onto the bombing range, often getting arrested, jailed and fined. But the Sept. 11 terror attacks muted the protests.

Five men entered Navy land at dawn on Tuesday and were quickly detained, said pro-independence Sen. Fernando Martin. Aside from that, only a dozen activists showed up for lackluster protests.

Activist camps - which would have been bustling a year ago - were half empty on Tuesday.

"I'm personally not willing to risk it," said Elizabeth Roebling, a 55-year-old activist from Asheville, North Carolina, sitting in a chair with the words "Civil Disobedience" painted on the back.

She blamed the poor activist turnout on tougher jail sentences since the Patriot Act was passed following the terror attacks.

Roebling was arrested in June 2001 during bombing exercises and was released two days later. She said getting arrested now could mean several months in jail or a hefty fine - chances she can't take.

"The Bush administration has made it sound like protesting (since Sept. 11) is un-American," she said.

President George Bush has promised the Navy will withdraw its forces from Vieques by May 2003. Some remain skeptical though.

"My dream is that they leave in 2003, but Bush likes war just as much as his father did," said Elba Perez, a 45-year-old cashier on Vieques.

Fajardo Summoned To Testify In Probe

September 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)-- Puerto Rico 's former Education Secretary has been summoned to testify before the House Education and Culture Committee about his knowledge of misuse of public funds.

Victor Fajardo, who pleaded guilty in February to three federal corruption charges related to a fraud scheme involving $4.3 million, was summoned Sunday and is to appear Sept. 10.

The Education Committee has met with Fajardo twice but didn't ask him testify because he wanted written agreements exempting him from discussing certain topics, committee chairman Jose Javier Garcia Caban told The San Juan Star, an English daily.

Last month, a federal jury found an aide to former Gov. Pedro Rossello guilty of taking bribes from contractors to help secure government contracts from top officials.

The conviction was latest in a series of accusations and trials involving people who served in public office during the tenure of Rossello, who led an unsuccessful statehood campaign.

In Rossello's last year in office, high-ranking administrators were convicted of stealing $2.2 million meant for AIDS patients, and funneling some of it to the governor's party. Rossello wasn't linked to any wrongdoing.

Puerto Rico Presses For Demilitarization Of Vieques

September 1, 2002
Copyright © 2002 EFE. All rights reserved.

Johannesburg, Aug 30 (EFE) - Puerto Rico 's representative to the World Summit on Sustainable Development underway here called Friday for the demilitarization of Vieques Island, which the U.S. Navy uses for live-fire military exercises.

"The greatest environmental challenge facing our people is the recovery and clean-up of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques , whose waters and soil have been used as a toxic waste dump, arms depot and firing range for the past 60 years by the U.S. Navy," said the island's interim secretary of state, Miguel Soto Lacourt.

He underscored that when U.S. military exercises end - they are set to stop by May 2003 -, Puerto Ricans will face a "monumental environmental task."

"The ecological disaster of Vieques , home to 9,000 human beings and a wide variety of plant and animal species, is a Puerto Rican , Caribbean and planetary tragedy and, ultimately, the worst example of sustainable development," Soto Lacourt said.

Calderon Urged To Designate Vieques Special Commission

AUGUST 31, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Rev. Wilfredo Estrada from the Ecumenical Committee for Vieques urged Gov. Sila Maria Calderon to designate a committee similar to the one created by former Gov. Pedro Rossello to work in the transition process when the U.S. Navy leaves the Vieques island.

"Is time to designate a special commission to work in the transition and eventual exit of the U.S. Navy from Vieques in 2003," said the religious leader.

La Fortaleza did not answer several calls to react to the petition.

Meanwhile, Estrada said that more than a year ago San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves publicly made the same petition without having any response. Without getting into details, Estrada said there are several religious groups within the United States trying to send a message to President George W. Bush asking him to put in writing his commitment about the Navy’s exit on May 2003.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin said for his part that the pressure has to be maintained, specially now that congressional elections are being held in the mainland.

"Faced with the resuming of the Navy’s military maneuvers the governor just expressed her sadness," Martin said.

After the announcement Gov. Sila Calderon acknowledged she can do anything to prevent the next round of maneuvers.

Under former Pedro Rossello’s administration a non partisan working group was created to deal with the Vieques issue.

The group should have keep following the working group final recommendation directed by former Secretary of State Norma Burgos and of which Calderon was also a member.

The governor has said her administration continues its efforts in favor of Vieques, but has declined to reveal them.

Calderon: Violence Injures Democracy

AUGUST 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon said on Friday that violence injures democracy, speaking in reaction to the ruling of Superior Judge Lourdes Velazquez, who found cause to go to trial against four New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders, including its president Carlos Pesquera on charges of riot.

Judge Velazquez found cause against Pesquera, NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, and former NPP Reps. Edwin Mundo and Leo Diaz for the June 20 incidents in the Women’s Advocate Office in Old San Juan.

Calderon said all Puerto Ricans should respect and accept the court ruling with the deference that these processes require.

"The Puerto Rican people reject violent conduct which constitutes an affront to basic principles of democracy. The court ruling about the incidents that took place in the Women’s Advocate Office confirms that nobody is above the law and that everyone is responsible of their actions,’" the governor said in a press release.

Calderon described the incidents as "unfortunate for the Puerto Rican people."

"Moreover, coming from people that are in positions of leadership, these actions constitute a profound injury to our democracy," the governor stated.

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