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Activists To Hold Two-Day Walk For Peace In Vieques
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin
November 22, 2002
The civil group known as Vieques Coordinator for Peace and every organization opposed to the military presence on that island municipality invited all Puerto Ricans to join them in a two-day walk on Jan. 11 and 12 to protest the U.S. Navy exercises to be held then.
"We invite all peace lovers to walk with us next Jan. 11 and 12 and to give Vieques a bit of their time to accompany us on this journey for peace and life," said father Nelson Lopez, president of the organization.
Todo Puerto Rico con Vieques spokesman Jose Paraliticci said the event also has the support of Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano.
Vieques community leaders will travel to Fajardo, where they will meet with other peace advocates to begin the walk. The priest said they will stop in Carolina on the first day and will continue to San Juan on the second day.
The event will end in a mass gathering at the Ecumenical Chapel of Winds Hill in front of the Capitol.
He added that several artists and athletes would participate in the walk, but that event organizers were still working on the details. Therefore, Lopez said the names of important public figures participating in the event, including the main speaker, would be disclosed along the way.
Lopez said some parts of the road will be traveled on foot, on bicycle, and on horse.
Both Paraliticci and Lopez underscored that the invitation is for every Puerto Rican, including political figures.
"I think it is important to emphasize that this is an event for all Viequenses, all Vieques delegations, and they will come here to the main island so that we can join them and walk with them during those two days. I believe we should display once more the solidarity we have shown to Vieques for so long by accompanying the Vieques people in that two-day journey," Paraliticci said.
"They are all invited, from Gov. Sila Calderon to the child who receives a bicycle on Three Kings Day," Lopez said.
He also said his organization supported all peaceful efforts to oust the Navy from Vieques, including massive trespassing on restricted land and the island-wide work stoppage that several political and civil groupssuch as the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus General Students Councilhave called for if the Navy doesnt withdraw its troops by May 2003.
So far, Calderon has insisted that she has received confirmation of the Navys plans to definitely leave the island municipality by that time. However, Vieques activists have shown skepticism and have announced their intention of performing massive demonstrations to force the Navy out of Vieques next year.