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Navy Can Defuse Vieques Tension

Puerto Ricans Are American Citizens

EDITORIAL - Navy Can Defuse Vieques Tension

July 7, 2000
Copyright © 2000 DAYTON DAILY NEWS. All Rights Reserved.

WHILE MOST AMERICANS celebrated Independence Day, hundreds rallied in two Puerto Rican cities against Navy bombing exercises on the island of Vieques .

Protests continue against Navy military operations that demonstrators say are spoiling the environment of Vieques and endangering the health and well-being of the island's residents. The Navy says the exercises are essential for national and international security.

As tension grows about Vieques , so does general anti-Yankee resentment in Puerto Rico .

This hostility can be eased with one important step: Set a date for a referendum on weapons training on Vieques .

The referendum was promised in January as part of an agreement between the Clinton administration and Puerto Rican leaders. The pact would allow voters on Vieques a choice between terminating the Navy training operations or continuing them. Under the pact, the Navy would set the referendum date and could continue weapons exercises until 2003, as long as it did not use live ammunition or bombs. Fair enough.

Yet while the Navy has resumed weapons training, it has not set an election date. The sooner that date is set, the better. Further delay needlessly strains relations with our friends.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Puerto Ricans Are American Citizens

July 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 DAYTON DAILY NEWS. All Rights Reserved.

Re the July 7 editorial "Navy can defuse Vieques tension":

The editorial made an excellent point about why the referendum date promised in January should be set.

However, I take issue with the last sentence of the editorial: "Further delay needlessly strains relations with our friends."

The people of Puerto Rico , which Vieques is a part of, should not be referred to as "our friends" any more than the people of Ohio, Kentucky or any other state should be referred to as "our friends."

The natives of Puerto Rico are, and have been, American citizens since the ratification of the Jones Act in 1917. Referring to them in such a manner is demeaning and also can be easily construed as an insult to the Puerto Rican -born community.

Jesus V. Garcia, HUBER HEIGHTS

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