|Should Governor Sila Calderon have written President Bush regarding Vieques?
Pressed by activists last week, Governor Sila Calderon changed her long-standing posture of public confidence in President Bushs "word," that he would close down Navy training on Vieques by May 2003. She wrote him a letter and then waved it about at a Forteleza press conference. In a flourish of euphemism, she asked the President to "formalize the process" of withdrawal, complaining that his lack a written commitment to close down the Navys facilities on Vieques was causing "confusion" among Puerto Ricans.
A reply from the President has yet to be reported.
The letter itself caused confusion both among Ms. Caldrons backers and detractors. Even her hand-picked Resident Commissioner, Anibal Acevedo Vila (D-PR), was reported baffled that, against his advice, she had put pen to paper. New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera, her rival for the Governorship in the last election, called the letter "counterproductive," and not in keeping with actions suitable for a Governor in communication with the President of the United States.
Supporters quietly questioned the Governors political acumen in the decision to seek a pen pal in the White House. Silence from Washington would put her in a worse situation with her critics than previously and any response that was less than detailed and definitive would be an acute embarrassment to her administration. Reportedly her paid Washington advisors have counseled that all will be well and are sending 37-cent stamps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Press reports are divided as to whether or not the Administration will leave Vieques on the May 2003 schedule. "Pentagon sources" are, on the one hand, saying that the Navy will leave next Spring, but warn that the search for alternative sites is still underway. Equivalent or better facilities for Navy war games is the legal caveat imposed by Congress on any departure from Vieques. In the meantime, their boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is holding to his public statement that, respecting Vieques, he will act commensurate to his "responsibilities." He is also on Gov. Calderons mailing list but, so far, has not enlightened her as to what he considers to be his responsibilities. Smart money is on the Secretarys conviction that his preeminent responsibility is to ready his minions for a likely confrontation with Iraq.
In last weeks Herald reader poll, 68% of participants were open to the idea of a delay in the Navys May 2003 projected withdrawal from its training facility on Vieques. Six of ten respondents of this persuasion called for an unconditional extension of time while four of ten predicated approval of any delay of Navy withdrawal on necessity. 30% of readers expressing an opinion wanted the Navy out of Vieques, on schedule, no matter what.
This week you can register you opinion of Governor Calderons letter. Please vote above.