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EDITORIAL OPINIONS *** EDITORIAL OPINIONS
Navy Should Leave
Stop The Bombing - Enough Is Enough
Vieques Belongs To Its Residents
The Military Needs To Test At Vieques
Fate Of Navy Bombing Range Up To Voters
Navy Should Leave
The Harrisburg Patriot
Copyright 2000, The Harrisburg Patriot. All Rights Reserved.
A deal brokered by President Clinton to allow the resumption of inert bombing, gunnery practice and military training in Vieques , Puerto Rico , does not comply with American ideals. The people of Vieques and Puerto Rico , all U.S. citizens, have suffered and want the Navy out.
The Navy for about 60 years has sandwiched the residents of the small island of Vieques , off the east coast of Puerto Rico . In the central part of the island, between a live bombing range and a large ammunition dump, the people live. The islanders have charged that the bombing has increased cancer rates, polluted the environment and killed a security guard, David Sanes Rodriguez.
This doesn't bother the Pentagon. It claims the island a necessity for national defense. It has used the island for preparation forinvasions since World War II.
For some years, a peaceful, non-violent citizens' movement has arisen in Puerto Rico and Vieques to press the U.S. to end its hold on the island. Clinton should be working to return the military-held lands to Puerto Rico and to pay for the cleanup of the environmental destruction the military has done.
Our tax dollars should be used for justice and peace, not for killing fields. Mary Herzel Harrisburg
Stop The Bombing On Vieques - Enough Is Enough
Margaret Thompson, Stoughton
The Capital Times
Copyright 2000, Madison Newspapers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
On May 4, more than 200 protesters were forcibly removed by federal authorities from 14 civil disobedience camps on Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Thus ended a 286-day peace vigil of no bombing or shelling of this tiny Caribbean island of 9,000 residents by the Navy and militaries from around the world, who use live ammunition (500-pound bombs) as part of military war games and training.
Many more than those 200 or so protesters have visited the camps throughout the past year, and include women and men, young and old (the oldest are women aged 93 and 82 years), grass-roots community leaders and citizens, religious leaders, elected officials from Puerto Rico and the United States, students, and political party and union members.
The protesters are part of a wider movement to get the U.S. Navy to leave Vieques , declaring that these government actions are a clear violation of human rights. These citizens say that "enough is enough" after a civilian was killed last year by a 500-pound bomb dropped in the "wrong place."
Likewise, "enough is enough" with cancer rates on Vieques much higher than those on the main island of Puerto Rico , along with environmental contamination of the land and water from uranium, unexploded ordnance, etc.
These citizens have said "enough is enough" when children can't concentrate in school with bombs dropping one mile away and war planes flying overhead 180 days out of each year for the past 60 years.
They have said "enough is enough" when they worry about their children playing on the beaches and tripping over unexploded bombs, abandoned and burned tanks, and other wreckage of these war games.
Few mainland Americans are aware of this appalling situation for the 9,000 residents of Vieques , who themselves are U.S. citizens. But more and more citizens from all countries are joining the rallying cry to say "enough is enough."
Join the campaign and speak up to get the Navy out of Vieques by contacting your congressional representatives and President Clinton, saying "enough is enough!!"
Vieques Belongs To Its Residents
The Hartford Courant
Copyright 2000, The Hartford Courant. All Rights Reserved.
In contrast to the military tactics used last month in the Miami raid to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, the removal of 200 protesters from the Navy's bombing site in Vieques , Puerto Rico , this month was a love fest.
FBI agents showed restraint, and protesters who had been occupying the firing range for more than a year honored their pledge to leave peacefully.
Now the Navy must stick by its promise to abide by the terms of the agreement on the island's future that was reached in December between the Clinton administration and Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro J. Rossello.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Navy will leave Vieques by May 1, 2003, if the island's 10,000 residents vote for a pullout in a referendum next year. Until then, the Navy is free to resume limited training with nonexplosive bombs. The agreement also gives Vieques residents $40 million and the western third of the island, which is now used as a munitions dump.
Islanders would receive another $50 million if they give their consent to a resumption of live-ammunition bombing after May 1, 2003.
There is good reason to be concerned that the Navy might not keep its end of the bargain. The Pentagon still regards Vieques as the only suitable location for the training of the Atlantic fleet. The Navy, moreover, has not fully honored previous agreements to limit the health and environmental effects that 50 years of bombing have had on the island's population.
Repeated requests by Puerto Ricans for safeguards on live-fire training fell on deaf ears until last spring when two stray bombs killed a civilian and sparked the massive outcry among Puerto Ricans that led to the takeover of the bombing site.
The Navy must honor the latest agreement. In a hopeful sign, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig disclosed this month that the referendum date may be moved up to August of this year, a change favored by the protesters. He also said that the Navy is exploring alternate sites for training in the event Vieques residents vote to end the use of their island as a bombing site.
This controversy has remained unresolved for far too long. Its lesson should be that practice bombing runs near residential areas doesn't make sense.
The Military Needs To Test At Vieques
Copyright 2000, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. All Rights Reserved.
An editorial from Scripps Howard News Service
Maybe, someday, this will be a world in which peace and goodness are guaranteed.
When that time comes, we can do away with the military and with training and preparedness, but that time is far, far off, and in the here and now, it makes perfect sense for the U.S. Navy to keep in tune by bombarding a bombing range it has used for years -- a place that belongs to this country and that is safe.
Naturally, the people of Vieques object to the bombs and, naturally enough, all sorts of politicians will take advantage of that fact.
But the government has been as obliging as it can be without saying the United States will simply run away every time a protester somewhere holds up a sign or shouts a slogan.
The agents who ushered the protesters off the Puerto Rican training ground did the right thing.
Fate Of Navy Bombing Range Up To Voters Of Vieques
Copyright 2000, Newsday, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The secretary of the Navy says the Caribbean island of Vieques is an "irreplaceable" training site for Marine Corps landings supported by ships and aircraft. Just east of Puerto Rico and roughly twice the size of Manhattan, Vieques has an ammunition dump at one end and a bombing range at the other, plus plenty of beaches and deep water offshore. Irreplaceable it may be, but it may soon have to be replaced anyway-and right now the Navy seems to be in denial about it.
Ever since a civilian guard on the range was killed last spring by an errant bomb, protesters have prevented more explosions on Vieques , and President Bill Clinton has agreed to a referendum by the island's 9,300 residents on whether the Navy must leave by May 1, 2003. If it's allowed to stay, the Pentagon will cough up $50 million for Vieques -probably a lot less than it would cost to prepare a new site if one can be found.
Yesterday U.S. marshals and FBI agents peaceably removed most of the protesters from a dozen campsites they had set up on the federal property. That's good; Clinton's agreement with Puerto Rico 's governor provides for the use of dummy bombs on the Vieques range until the referendum is held.
But the future of Vieques has become an issue in mainland politics- especially in New York, with its large Puerto Rican community. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan/Queens), who was born in Puerto Rico , joined the protesters, along with a state assemblyman and a city councilman. And Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton chimed in with a complaint that "We don't have democracy in Vieques ."
But we do-or at least we will when the people there vote either to throw the Navy out or to take the $50 million and hang in there. That decision ought to be made sooner rather than later, and the Navy had better be ready with a plausible Plan B in case the referendum doesn't go its way.