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Navy Stops Bombing

Rossello: Duty To Vieques In Presidential Directives

Two Sailors Hurt, 162 Protesters Arrested At Vieques Range

Poll: 88.5% Of Vieques Wants Navy Out Now

Navy Stops Bombing

June 28, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.
by Proviana Colon Diaz

RIO GRANDE - As U.S. Navy officials announced the end of military practices in Vieques.

Rear Adm. Kevin Green, the Navy's top representative on the island, said Wednesday that the USS George Washington battle group "successfully" completed combat training in Vieques and that military practices on the island municipality would cease for now.

In Puerto Rico, the Navy issued a prepared statement Wednesday announcing the end of military practices, and stating that Vieques is the "sole location in the Atlantic" where naval units can conduct military training required for deployment to "areas of potential hostilities."

The Navy ended exercises Tuesday night, earlier than expected. The U.S. Department of Defense had published ads indicating that the Navy would resume military practices with inert ordinance in Vieques from June 24-29.

Rossello: Duty To Vieques In Presidential Directives

June 28, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

RIO GRANDE (AP) - Gov. Pedro Rossello said Tuesday that his only responsibility with Vieques residents is to ensure that the presidential directives regarding the U.S. Navy are thoroughly implemented.

The governor also warned Vieques residents that going against the agreement could very well annul it, leaving the island municipality with no other choice but the status quo.

Rossello said his advise to those truly interested in seeing an end to the Vieques issue is to cooperate with the presidential agreement and to allow the process to run its course.

"Anyone interfering with the presidential agreement is in fact promoting its annulment, allowing the Navy unlimited stay in Vieques, canceling the land transfer to the local government and the environmental cleansing of those lands. That is what protesters are really doing," Rossello said during a press conference.

On the other hand, Rossello declined to discuss whether the noise caused by the Navy bombings in the island municipality exceeds current levels of tolerance established by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB).

Rossello said he hasn't received reports about noise monitoring while the military exercises are going on, but as soon as they are over there would be time to do all the necessary studies.

Sailors Hurt, 162 Protesters Arrested At Navy's Vieques Range

June 27, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

VIEQUES - Protesters wielding steel bars injured two U.S. Navy sailors in a violent confrontation at sea Tuesday, and 162 demonstrators were arrested while trying to disrupt bombing practice on Vieques' range, the Navy said.

It was the first violent confrontation - and largest protest invasion of the range - since Navy ships and warplanes from the USS George Washington Battle Group began shelling and bombing with non-explosive "dummy" rounds on Sunday. The detained protesters were to be cited for trespassing, said Navy spokesman Robert Nelson.

"The Navy has it on film and the FBI will investigate the matter," Lt. Jeff Gordon said of the alleged 7 a.m. assault by protesters on five boats which surrounded a small Navy patrol boat just off the range.

Gordon said protesters threw 12-inch iron bars at the shield-wielding sailors, injuring one in the neck and another in the chest. He said the sailors were armed but didn't use their weapons and that the five boats escaped. The injured sailors were not hospitalized, he said.

Gordon said the exercises, which could run through July 2, were roughly 70 percent complete.

Caguas Diocese Poll: 88.5% Of Vieques Wants Navy Out Now

June 26, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.
by Proviana Colon Diaz

SAN JUAN - According to a survey by the Caguas Diocese, 88.5% of Vieques residents want the U.S. Navy to leave the island municipality immediately, Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio announced Monday.

That same percentage would also like the Navy to clean up the land and return it to the Puerto Rico government.

President Bill Clinton's agreement with the Puerto Rico government, however, does not include these options. Attorney Ricardo Diaz, who was part of the group conducting the survey, said the Navy-out-now option was included because they wanted "to know what Vieques residents really want."

Clinton's directives, agreed to by Gov. Pedro Rossello, call for a cease to Navy practices in Vieques in 2003. Until that date, the Navy is allowed to resume military practices using inert ordnance.

Only 4% of those polled by the diocese favored the option of allowing the Navy to stay three more years.

Clinton also provided for a referendum in Vieques in which residents can choose to oust the Navy in three years, or allow them to stay indefinitely and resume live-fire practices in exchange for $50 million in economic aid.

Meanwhile, 7.55% of those surveyed by the diocese supported the permanent presence of the Navy in Vieques.

Volunteers from the Caguas Diocese conducted the survey in Vieques on June 10 by polling 2,214 residents or 22.1% of the estimated 10,000 inhabitants of the small island.

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