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PuertoRicoWOW News Service

Clinton Statements On Vieques Directives

October 31, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

Following are excerpts relating to the Vieques directives taken from President Bill Clinton's statements upon signing law H.R. 4205, the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001:

"[The law I have signed] enacts provisions of the Directives I issued regarding the Navy range on Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Directives reflect an agreement with the Government of Puerto Rico that meets local concerns and enables our military personnel to resume training at Vieques. Like the agreement, the Act, most importantly, provides that the residents will determine through a referendum whether there will be any training at Vieques beyond that which is critical to the readiness of the Navy and the Marine Corps to conduct at Vieques. This is training with nonexplosive ordnance for no more than 90 days per year through May 1, 2003. In addition to $40 million for projects to address the residents' current concerns related to the training, if they decide to allow the Navy to extend it, the Act authorizes $50 million to provide benefits typically enjoyed by residents in the vicinity of important military installations.

"The Act, additionally, requires the Navy to relinquish ownership of land not used for training. But, different from the agreement, it would have some of this land transferred to the Interior Department rather than local ownership and set a deadline for the transfer of May 1, 2001, rather than Dec. 31, 2000. Further, if the Viequenses vote for all training to end, it requires the Navy to relinquish the land used for training, but would have most of that land transferred to Interior rather than the General Services Administration (GSA) for disposal. These variations are relatively minor, but they are neither justifiable nor prudent. They are not justifiable because Interior and Puerto Rico would together manage the land not used for training that requires protection under either the Act or the agreement. Further, if the people of Vieques vote for all training to end May 1, 2003, there is no known reason why the Federal Government would want to continue to maintain most of the land used for training. The changes are not prudent because they resurrect a basic part of the issue that had largely been put to rest by the agreement - the military's credibility on Vieques community matters. We are, therefore, submitting legislation to further transfer the land at issue to Puerto Rican ownership or to GSA for disposal as is appropriate. And the Navy will transfer the land that the Act already would transfer to local ownership by Dec. 31."

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