Para ver este documento
en español, oprima aquí.
CLINTON AGREES TO VIEQUES LIVE
Statement by the President
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 3, 1999
For several weeks, we have been working on how best to reconcile
the imperative of providing satisfactory training for our armed
forces, with the strong feelings of many residents of Vieques
and Puerto Rico about the impact of training operations there.
I have discussed this with the Governor of Puerto Rico, the Secretary
of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations,
the Commandant of the Marine Corps,
Today, the Secretary of Defense has recommended a plan of action
which I believe offers the best avenue to addressing both needs.
I have accepted that recommendation and am directing the Secretary
of Defense to work with the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico
so that we can move forward in a cooperative manner.
I understand the longstanding concerns of residents of the
island. These concerns cover a wide range of issues, from health
and safety to the economy and the environment. They reflect a
distrust that, unfortunately, has been building for decades. Those
concerns must be addressed, and I believe our plan will do so
in a constructive manner.
At the same time, as Commander-in-Chief, I cannot send our
servicemen and women into harm's way if they have not been adequately
trained. The training that our Atlantic Fleet has undertaken on
Vieques since 1941 is important. While the Navy and the Marine
Corps will develop a satisfactory alternative for the upcoming
exercise, it will take several years to develop a comparable long-term
The plan I am adopting today provides for the end of training
on Vieques within five years, unless the people of Vieques choose
to continue the relationship; restricts training activities during
the transition period to those required by the Services; sets
forth an ambitious economic development plan for Vieques that
would be implemented during this transition; and gives the people
of Puerto Rico and the Navy an opportunity to discuss this plan
in order for it to be understood fully before training resumes
this spring for this transitional period.
In particular, the following steps will be undertaken:
First, the Navy and the Marine Corps will make alternative
arrangements which they deem satisfactory for training of the
Eisenhower Battle Group and the WASP Amphibious Ready Group, scheduled
for December. While such arrangements can be undertaken for the
Eisenhower and WASP groups, they do not constitute a long-term
alternative to Vieques. Rather, this period will provide an opportunity
for the people of Vieques to discuss this plan with the Navy and
the Marine Corps and understand it fully.
Second, we will resume training next spring for a transition
period, no longer than five years. This will enable the Navy to
develop a suitable, long-term alternative. Training on Vieques
will cease after this transition period unless the people of Vieques
decide it should be continued. The Navy and the Marine Corps will
develop a timetable to phase
operations in Vieques as soon as possible during the transition
period, including transferring title of land to Puerto Rico beginning
with the western quarter of the island.
Third, when training resumes for this transition period it
will be limited to inert ordnance only -- no live fire - unless
and until the people of Vieques decide differently. Training will
be authorized for 90 days a year, what we need to meet our essential
Finally, when training resumes we will implement an ambitious
program that addresses the concerns that the community has had
for so long ?- and that has been spelled out by the Secretary
I am convinced that this plan meets my essential responsibility
as Commander-in-Chief to assure that our military forces are satisfactorily
trained and ready, while at the same time addressing the legitimate
concerns of the people of Vieques. It provides some breathing
space so that the people on the island and the Navy and Marine
Corps can proceed in an orderly and mutually respectful fashion.