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January 8, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT and THE LEDGER-STAR, NORFOLK, VA. All Rights Reserved.

Vieques: The Issue Isn't "The U.S.A. Vs. 'Them' "

In response to the Dec. 27 letters, "Only Vieques risk is to our troops" and "Vieques issue is civil disobedience":

This issue, about live-fire training by the U.S. Navy in Puerto Rico, is not a USA vs. "them" conflict. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 100 years. Not only the Navy and the military, but all federal agencies, particularly Congress, have acted with impunity and disregard for even the most basic tenets of human and civil rights of their fellow citizens here. This has made a mockery of the U.S. citizenship we so proudly have defended at every armed conflict in this century.

This issue goes well beyond partisan politics or President Clinton. It is based upon the right of every American to liberty and peace in their own homes, free from persecution or aggravation from the military-industrial complex.

Allow me to assure our fellow Americans in Virginia that we in Puerto Rico are ready to assume our fiscal responsibilities, as soon as Congress recognizes our full rights as Americans. This includes our right to vote for president and elect full congressional representation who could resolve issues of this nature in the manner guaranteed by our Constitution.

Arturo J. Guzman
San Juan, Puerto Rico


December 27, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT and THE LEDGER-STAR, NORFOLK, VA. All Rights Reserved.

Only Vieques Risk Is To Our Troops

In a familiar pattern of the "decision-making" of his administration, our commander-in-chief has again shown the depth and strength of his convictions: shallow and weak.

To military audiences, he never fails to mention his absolute dedication to the safety and well-being of our fighting men and women. However, given the choice between alienating Puerto Rican voters, and possibly endangering the pilots, sailors and Marines of the Eisenhower battle group, he reverts to his true self, the consummate politician, and puts the protection of his wife's and vice president's campaigns above that of the battle group.

President Clinton grovels to a small group of fishermen, who are trespassing on government property, and offers them $40 million to think about letting the military resume maneuvers on land over which the Puerto Ricans have no claim. It is laughably appropriate that the Puerto Ricans rejected his proposal and left him with no way to save face. Unfortunately, it is the battle group that heads into harm's way with an untested, piecemeal training program.

A Puerto Rican was killed by an errant bomb while working for the government on government land, miles from the fishing villages on Vieques. No resident of those villages is ever in danger from these maneuvers; they are simply annoyed at the sound of bombs falling miles from their homes. The explosions that I occasionally hear from the bases in Virginia Beach are closer to my house.

This is not an issue of safety for the Puerto Ricans; it is for the U.S. armed forces. The maneuvers should be resumed without limitations and without apology.

Ted Morse
Virginia Beach


Vieques Issue Is Civil Disobedience

The Clinton administration has stopped all live bombing on the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range of Vieques, Puerto Rico. In addition, we taxpayers were to pony up $14 million for the commonwealth of Puerto Rico to sweeten the deal.

These dollars were to go to people who do not even pay federal income taxes. The governor of Puerto Rico turned down the administration's proposal. Once again, Bill Clinton has put his and/ or his wife's politics ahead of national security.

In the mid '70s, a San Juan newspaper ran a series of articles titled, "Do not kick a sleeping giant." The articles attempted to inform the citizens of Puerto Rico of all the advantages of being a commonwealth of the United States while not being a federal taxpayer. At that time, Puerto Rico was receiving more welfare than 46 of the contiguous states.

Probably little has changed in the past 20 years. One way to curb civil disobedience is through the pocketbook. I hope Congress pays attention to the current situation in Vieques.

John J. Kingston
Virginia Beach

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