Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

New Vieques Beaches Opened…Mangos From Puerto Rico…SJ Archbishop: Violence Belies Peaceful Struggle…Vieques Land Damage About $1M…GOP Leader: Island Should Resolve Status…McClintock Lobbies In D.C. For RR Jobs, Says Vieques Incidents Affect Image, Acevedo Vila Disagrees…Drill Reveals Island Not Ready For Terrorism

People Enjoy New Beaches Of Vieques

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

May 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

VIEQUES — It has been four years since the last time Jorge Gonzalez was able to bathe in the crystal clear waters of Caracas beach, also known as Red beach. Since May 1, however, he has been able to enjoy it.

"They (U.S. Navy) left it pretty much ok. I am very happy to be here," Gonzalez said.

The 56 year-old resident from Vieques was enjoying the day at the beach with friends and relatives. As he set up beach toys for the younger ones he recalled how that beach would be used by the U.S. Navy to unload gas for its vehicles at U.S. Camp Garcia.

"See, the platform is still there," said Gonzalez as he pointed out to the distance.

Following the turmoil of May 1, many residents, visitors, and tourists visited Caracas and Manuel Key beaches. The U.S. Navy used to called them Red Beach and Blue Beach, respectively.

Former political prisoner Dylcia Pagan was also enjoying herself at the beach with a group of people from New York. She said they had renamed the beach "La Colora", which means 'the red one.'

One of her companions, Maria Kerkedo, said the beauty of the beach mesmerized her.

"It's a shame we didn’t get to enjoy it for so long," Kerkedo said.

Since Wednesday, the two pristine beaches have become part of a wild life reserve under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Access to the area is controlled, but not restricted.

Signs reading "danger zone" and "environmental site" can be seen at different points of the reserve.

The areas will remain closed to the public until the cleanup and removal of ordnance are done.

On Saturday, the gubernatorial transition committee for Vieques was scheduled to visit the off limits area along with Fish and Wildlife personnel.

Dozens of cars could be seen going up and down the roads wondering around the area that for over sixty years had been used as a target range for ship to shore U.S. Navy military practices.

The observation point, were civilian guard David Sanes was killed by an accidental bombing in 1999 and the roads into the areas where most practices were held will remain closed pending the clean up.

Meanwhile visitors will be able to swim or simply enjoy the beautiful beaches.

Mango From Puerto Rico

Ed Bedington

May 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003
William Reed Ltd. All rights reserved. 

An early start to the Puerto Rican mango season has paid dividends, importers claimed.

The crop got off to a flying start two months early, with the first fruit arriving in the UK in January, said importer Minor, Weir and Willis.

Sudhir Mehta, commercial director, said the early start was a boost to the #25m-a-year mango market: "We were able to get a number of promotions running much earlier this season because we had the volumes. By the time you get to summer, there's a lot more competition from other fruits."

Importers and growers are now hoping to continue to increase mango consumption in the UK. A marketing initiative, called Mango from Puerto Rico, has managed to increase penetration from 10% to 17% in three years. Last season saw around 16 million tonnes of the fruit sold in the UK, doubling the volumes sold in 2000.

Clare Selvey, category manager with Minor, Weir and Willis, said the aim had been to increase penetration to 20% in five years.

"We expect to hit 20% by 2004 now. We want to turn the mango into more of a commodity item.

"We have a significant amount of promotional activity planned for the coming season, with Sainsbury in its Fruits of the World promotion and tastings in Somerfield stores, among others," Selvey added.

Another priority was consumer education on how to handle and store mangoes, as well as information on the different varieties.

Selvey said Minor, Weir and Willis would be doing that through point of sale information and PR activity.

San Juan Archbishop: Violence Not True Image Of Vieques

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

May 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

VIEQUES — San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves condemned the violent acts that occurred on May 1 in this municipality but noted that such acts are not a true image of the peaceful struggle that led to the closing of the U.S. Navy target range.

"Those acts can’t, in the least, overcast 64 years of non-violent protest," said Gonzalez Nieves.

Still he strongly condemned Thursday’s outburst and compared it to the same acts that the people were demanding be stopped by the Navy.

"In a way they are as war-like as the ones that have just finished in Vieques," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez made his statements on Friday afternoon in a press conference at the Vieques catholic church where he was to offer an evening mass as part of the municipality’s celebrations of the end of military practices after more than 60 years of the Navy using Camp Garcia’s target range.

The municipality’s activities included a ceremony to commemorate those who were arrested for engaging in civil disobedience as an attempt to end military practices.

New Progressive Party Sen. Norma Burgos, Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano, New York state councilmen Jose Rivera were some of the people who participated in the event.

In other matters arguing the demand has more of a political than a civil nature the Catholic church will take a less active role in the people’s demand to the U.S. Navy for the target range cleanup.

Nieves said that as a member of the gubernatorial Transition Committee on Vieques he will limit his participation in that request to making sure that the human rights of the municipality residents are preserved.

"The only thing I could offer to the committee is my wish to protect the human rights of the Vieques residents," Gonzalez said.

Damage To Vieques Land Estimated At About $1 Million

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

May 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

VIEQUES -- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel on Friday inspected the over 16,000 acres of land under their jurisdiction to estimate damage caused by the violent incidents that occurred in the early hours of May 1.

A rough estimate of the damage was set at $750,000 to $1 million, Reserve Administrator Oscar Diaz said.

Diaz supervisor Susan Slander, who overlooks the nine reserves around Puerto Rico under US Fish and Wildlife Service jurisdiction, said damage includes not only the vehicles destroyed by the fires of May 1 but also the gates, and access that were destroyed.

Slander contradicted Police Superintendent Victor Rivera who on Thursday said the vehicles that were set alight and destroyed had been left by the U.S. Navy for the municipality’s use. Instead Slander claimed property of the vehicles which she said had been left by the Navy to her office personnel for the purpose of properly maintaining the facility.

Some of the gates destroyed were access into zones that will remain closed to the public due to the presence of explosives or because they are environmental sensitive sites.

Slander noted that concrete walls have been place instead as it is their duty to protect the site while ensuring the public’s safety.

"That is why some areas have been labeled restricted because a tragedy could occur," Slander said.

During a morning visit to the area WOW saw some five different sites where danger warning signs had been posted.

The entrance point where the cars and gate were destroyed is quickly left behind as one enters the site. Drivers must fight the dust storms caused by other cars as their tires run through the dusty, pebbled roads.

Ten minutes into the base local police and armed US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel block the entrance that leads to the observation point where civilian guard David Sanes was accidentally killed by a bomb.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel warned the media of the possibility of explosives and notes those are their instructions.

Access is only allowed to the areas known as Blue Beach and Red Beach.

Pryce: Status Issue Should Be Resolved In Puerto Rico

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS
. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) said the efforts to define the political future of Puerto Rico should begin on the island, not in Washington. Pryce is the new person in charge of promoting the public policy of the Republican majority at the U.S. House of Representatives.

"It should be their decision, the Puerto Ricans’ decision. This country should take its course of action depending on what the Puerto Rican people say, but when there is a 50/50 division it is very difficult [to make decision in Washington]," she said.

The congresswoman acknowledged that Puerto Rico’s case requires a process of free determination. However, she warned that Congress should wait for Puerto Ricans to reach their own consensus.

Although U.S. President George W. Bush had created a special group in August 2001 to work on the status issue, it has never met and Congress doesn’t seem to have enough interest resume the complicated debate.

McClintock Lobbies In Washington For Naval Base’ Jobs

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Minority leader Sen. Kenneth McClintock urged the government, political parties and private organizations to create a joint committee to save the 2,700 jobs that would be lost by the possible closing of Roosevelt Roads naval base in 2005.

McClintock traveled to Washington D.C. this week lobbying for the permanence of the naval facilities in the island, and the suspension or delay of the lay-offs that have already started and will extend until next September. "Neither the Calderon administration nor Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila have made an effort to keep these jobs, even though they promised it publicly," said McClintock during a press conference.

The minority leader said that the absence of lobbying efforts will result in the loss of Roosevelt Roads as happened with Army South, which left the Island last year.

McClintock Says Vieques Incidents Affect Puerto Rico’s Image In The States

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Minority leader Sen. Kenneth McClintock joined leaders and politicians who criticized the disturbances which occurred in Vieques during the celebration of the transfer of the U.S. Navy former target range to the Fish & Wildlife Service.

McClintock referred to the incidents as "unfortunate violations of law" that affected tremendously the image of Puerto Rico on the mainland. As evidence of his arguments, the Senator showed the press a two-third page article published in a national newspaper that displayed pictures of the violent incidents.

The NPP delegation headed by McClintock, submitted a petition to the Senate to ask the Tourism Co., Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co., and the Department of Economic Development & Commerce about the efforts made by the government to counteract the negative image of the island.

Acevedo Vila: Vieques Violence Won’t Affect Island’s Image

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila celebrated the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques. However, he censured the violent acts that took place on Wednesday on what used to be known as the military Camp Garcia.

He said the image of Puerto Rico won’t be affected at an international level because the world knows that the violent acts don’t represent the Vieques cause.

"That is not what the people of Vieques nor the Puerto Rican people represent," Acevedo Vila said.

He added that even when he thinks the image of the island is not at stake, he would take steps to ensure that it continues to be on good terms.

Emergency Drill Reveals Island Not Ready For Terrorism

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — An emergency drill conducted on Thursday failed to prove that island authorities would be ready to handle a terrorist attack with radiation.

Dr. Jose Eric Diaz, Emergency Room chief at the Veterans Hospital evaluated the situation and said the authorities had made the same mistake the firefighters made in the Twin Towers of New York.

"They entered with a lot of heart, without following the protocol and without equipment," Diaz said.

"The reality is that we are not prepared to face a radioactive attack in Puerto Rico. We don’t have the capacity nor the equipment for this type of emergency, Diaz declared in published reports.

Fourteen hospital institutions and 18 local and federal government agencies participated in the drill.

"We have a lot to improve", Diaz concluded.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback