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Admiral Believes Vieques Will Accept Navy Bombing

Calderon Disagrees On Plebiscite Timing

Navy Hopes Money Talks In Vieques

Admiral Says He Believes Vieques Will Accept Navy Bombing

by Chris Hawley
June 2, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press Newswires. All Rights Reserved.

NAVAL STATION ROOSEVELT ROADS, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Ricans eventually will allow the U.S. Navy to keep its bombing range on Vieques island, the head of the Navy's Southern Command predicted.

"Their best future lies with the continued relationship with the U.S. Navy," Rear Adm. Kevin Green said in an interview Thursday. "It isn't always the loudest voices that carry the day. It isn't always the people who are always in the public eye who really represent the wishes, the aspiration and desires of any community."

Green said Vieques' 9,300 residents will vote to keep the Navy's premiere Atlantic fleet bombing range despite a year of anti-Navy protests and Gov. Pedro Rossello's own prediction Tuesday that the Navy will lose.

If the Navy stays, it will create job training programs and try to bring high technology businesses to Vieques, where unemployment is 14 percent, Green said. He also disputed claims by activists that Navy exercises damage Vieques' environment and contribute to the island's cancer rate. The most recent study by the local health department, done in the late 1980s, showed the island's cancer rate to be more than 20 percent higher than the Puerto Rican average.

Calderon Disagrees With Admiral Green On Plebiscite Timing

June 3, 2000
Copyright © 2000 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - During the inauguration of a Caimito gymnasium, which was revamped at a cost of $169,823, San Juan Mayor Sila Calderon disagreed with U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kevin Green, saying that the Vieques referendum should happen "as soon as possible."

Green has said the referendum should not be mixed with politics and should be carried out as late as possible, after the Navy has implemented improvements in Vieques.

"We should get ready as soon as possible to hold a democratic consultation, a consultation in which the people of Vieques can express themselves and that is not marred or left in the hands of the Navy," Calderon said after renaming the Caimito gym after boxing champion Felix "Tito" Trinidad.

She also reiterated that she "doesn’t agree" with one of the two options provided for in President Clinton’s directives on Vieques that the Navy could be allowed to remain and continue live bombings after providing $50 million in economic compensation to the Vieques residents.

"That obviously impedes the free will or the freedom of people participating in the referendum," she said.

Navy Hopes Money Talks In Vieques

by Ivan Roman
June 5, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.

CEIBA, Puerto Rico - With decades of ill feelings and broken promises in the way, can anyone expect people in Vieques to vote for the Navy to stay and resume training with live fire?

But the Navy decides when voters go to the polls. And before this referendum, the Navy wants to show them the money.

In his first substantive interviews since his arrival Feb. 18, Rear Adm. Kevin Green, commander of the Navy`s Southern Command, said last week that he hopes to gain votes by wooing the people of Vieques with economic aid, new jobs, and moves that should make life easier.

Before the vote -- which President Clinton`s directive states could be between Aug. 1 this year and January 2002 -- Green hopes a new factory would be open. And the ferry terminal would be moved to the western part of the island, opening the shortest passenger and cargo route to the main island of Puerto Rico. He hopes the $40 million for a new pier, better roads and bridges and compensation for fishermen will have passed the Senate.

He warned that if the Navy handed over the land, residents could still see themselves on the sidelines as outside developers reaped all the benefit.

"I think it does little economic good for the residents of Vieques, the people whose families have lived there for generations, to have outsiders come in and take over property that is being protected now," Green said.

That may be an interesting statement to those who remember the Navy arriving during World War II, expropriating three-quarters of the island and forcing their families to squeeze into the civilian area of Vieques or leave for San Juan, St. Croix or New York.

Green insists people in Vieques need to look at root causes of their problems, not use the Navy as an "easy scapegoat." The Navy learned from past mistakes, he said, appealing for people`s trust.

"This is a long-term commitment," Green said. "This is not a flash-in-the-pan answer to today`s call, but rather a permanent relationship."

The 27 people arrested that day and cited for trespassing for planting black crosses on the controversial target range scoffed at the notion of trusting the Navy.

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