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Farrow Censors Calderon On Vieques, Pro- Vieques Protesters Arrested In N.Y., Exercises End Early, Protest In Amsterdam Against Navy, Manufacturing Jobs At 20 Year Low, Poll Finds Crime & Drugs Main Social Problems, Puerto Ricans Despondent

Farrow Censors Calderon On Vieques Issue

September 24 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) – For former White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office Director Jeff Farrow, it is the U.S. Navy, not U.S. President George Bush, that will decide if it will abandon the Vieques target zone.

The former White House official under the Bill Clinton administration accused Gov. Sila Maria Calderon of using the Vieques controversy to advance her political career.

"The president does not have the authority under the United States Constitution to violate the law. The law requires the decision about Vieques to be made not by the president, but by the U.S. Navy secretary and the Infantry, by certifying the decision before Congress," Farrow said in a radio interview Tuesday.

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello obtained a presidential directive from the then U.S. President Bill Clinton establishing removal of the Navy from Vieques by May 2003.

Vieques leaders as well as environmentalists are doubtful about the Navy’s intention to leave the island by that date, or ever.

Farrow alleged Calderon’s insistence in including the immediate ousting of the Navy on the proposed Nov. 6, 2002 referendum opened the door for Congress to leave the date of departure in the hands of the Navy.

He said he is surprised about Calderon’s decision to send a letter to the president, asking him to put in writing his promise to endi the Navy’s presence on Vieques by May 2003.

"The White House has reinstated its their commitment to remove the Navy from Vieques on several occasions, but the president cannot order the removal, or reaffirm his stance regarding a law that is out of his hands," Farrow said.

The former government official accused the governor of assuming a political stand with the issue.

"She never aggressively opposed U.S. Navy practices in Vieques until she found herself behind in the polls," Farrow said.

Pro- Vieques Protesters Arrested In New York

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 EFE NEWS SERVICE. All rights reserved.

New York, Sep 23 (EFE) - Twenty-four activists were arrested Monday in front of the United Nations building's main entrance while calling for the removal of the U.S. Navy from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques .

The protesters were taken by New York City police to a nearby precinct where they were charged with disorderly conduct.

Some of the people arrested had already been detained for staging other acts of civil disobedience concerning Vieques in front of the U.N.

The demonstration coincided with the 194th anniversary of the Grito de Lares, a heroic act in which a group of Puerto Ricans declared the republic of Puerto Rico for several hours, while it was still under Spanish rule.

The activists said the Day of Peace celebrated by the United Nations is exactly what they seek for the 9,000 residents of the island municipality where the U.S. Navy has been carrying out bombing practice for the past 60 years.

The activists arrived late Monday morning carrying a giant banner with a message that called for peace, justice and human rights in Vieques .

The U.N. police immediately closed the front doors. The activists stood with their backs to the doors and screamed, "End the bombing now!" and "Navy out of Vieques ."

The majority of the demonstrators were carrying Puerto Rican flags in their hands or on their clothes.

Political leaders and activists have asked President George W. Bush to issue a written executive order making May 2003 the deadline for the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques . To date, Bush has made only a verbal commitment to ending the military training operations next year.

U.S. Navy Ends Military Practices In Vieques

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The U.S. Army ended its military practices in Vieques on Monday afternoon, three days before schedule, said Vieques Special Commissioner Juan R. Fernandez.

The reason given by the military authorities was the bad weather.

"The U.S. Navy moved forward the ending of the exercises to 3 p.m. this afternoon [Monday]. The only thing they have said is that is due to the bad weather which is forecast, but that does not sound logical because the storm is very far away," Fernandez told The Associated Press.

Fernandez said Monday maneuvers began at 9:50 a.m. with air-to-land bombings.

"Up until noon they have fired 10 inert bombs and the aircraft carrier began to withdraw from the Vieques shore," announced the commissioner, who is in charged of monitoring the practices.

The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and 11 other ships completed their exercises on Monday.

The maneuvers began on Sept. 3 and should have lasted 23 days, according to the notice given by the Navy to the local authorities.

Military police arrested at least 20 people for trespassing U.S. Navy land.

Demonstrators Oppose U.S. Military Training Operations In Puerto Rico

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Around a dozen demonstrators protested U.S. military training in Puerto Rico at the American consulate in the Netherlands Monday.

The gathering was held on the same day as protests in several other cities around the world, including New York, Paris and Tokyo.

The U.S. military has used the island of Vieques as a practice bombing range for more than six decades, but the Puerto Rican government has asked the U.S. Navy to withdraw.

Opposition to the U.S. military presence grew after a civilian guard was killed by two bombs dropped off-target in 1999. President George W. Bush has promised the forces will pull out by May 2003.

Protesters waiving Puerto Rican flags chanted "USA out of Puerto Rico " and "Peace for Vieques " on Amsterdam's Museum.

"I am ashamed of American policies around the world," said Kenneth Nichols, an American protester.

Organizer Antonio Baez said the action coincided with the anniversary of the first rebellion against the Spanish rule in 1868, a national holiday in Puerto Rico.

Employment Level In Manufacturing Sector Lowest In 20 Years

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The employment level in the manufacturing sector is at its lowest level in 20 years, after the continued losses experienced, according to Department of Work and Human Resources statistics.

The result of the monthly poll conducted by the agency reveals that employment in manufacturing in August 2002 was 127,300, which represents a loss of approximately 6,000 jobs when compared to the amount registered in August 2001.

The highest total of jobs in the manufacturing sector for a month of August in 20 years was reached in 1989, when 156,700 were estimated.

Groups that registered the highest job losses on the manufacturing sector were food, with 1,100 fewer jobs; clothing and textile products, with 2,000 fewer; electronic equipment and other electric equipment with a 1,500 job loss.

Crime And Drugs; Main Social Problems On The Island

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Crime and drug abuse, unemployment and government corruption continue to be the main concerns among Puerto Ricans, according to the results of a poll published by a local newspaper and revealed Monday.

A series of issues that could be linked to the prevailing poor conditions on the island continue to affect Puerto Ricans, among them lack of health services, alcohol abuse and need for housing.

On the other hand, only 33% of the people polled considers the Vieques issue a big problem, a 10% reduction from a previous poll.

The poll reflected a slight 2% reduction on the importance that the status issue currently has among island residents. In May 36% said it was one of the issues that most concerned them compared to the 34% registered in September.

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate on the island, only 10% of those polled consider unemployment one of the main concerns compared with the 18% registered before.

Somber Outlook For Most Puerto Ricans

September 23 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – A poll published by a local newspaper revealed that most Puerto Ricans describe the current situation on the island as a somber outlook.

According to the poll results, only 24% of those polled think that things in Puerto Rico are very good or fairly good, while 47% think the situation is pretty bad and 29% said it is very bad.

According to published reports, the 24% which describe the current situation as very good and fairly good is the lowest registered in similar polls performed over the last five years.

On the personal economic level, more Puerto Ricans say this year has been more negative in the financial aspect. Although 57% say their economic situation is the same as year ago, 26% indicate their current situation is worse, while only 17% allege to be in a better economic situation.

Among those interviewed, those who make reference to a more difficult economic situation within the last 12 months are identified with the New Progressive Party.

However, the traditional optimism exhibited by island residents could be leading 41% of those polled to foresee improvements in their financial situation, while 14% consider that their economic situation will deteriorate.

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