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EFE News Service

Green Explains Navy's Mission On Vieques


November 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 EFE News Service. All Rights Reserved.
Source: World Reporter (TM)

San Juan - The chief of the U.S. Southern Command, Kevin Green, explained the U.S. Navy's mission on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques Wednesday and warned against "outsiders with different plans" for this municipality, where he denies the Navy has conducted nuclear testing.

In a column written for a San Juan newspaper, Green, who also congratulated Governor-elect Sila Calderon, the winner in general elections held last week, emphasized that "some people started an international campaign" that urged U.S. Navy's withdrawal from Vieques, "which had the effect of paralyzing the tourist industry."

"Tourists from Spain, the United States and Puerto Rico itself will not be inclined to visit Vieques because, really, they aren't sure if what they read in the newspapers or heard on the television is true or not," he noted.

"Can the people of Vieques have control over their future without outside interference? The answer is a resounding yes," Green said.

Green also wished note "a number of truths" about the U.S. Navy, which has been conducting military training exercises on Vieques since the 1940s.

"First: we are conducting a broad health study, to finally determine the level of cancer in Vieques. Second: we have not had nor do we currently have problems with radioactive uranium on Vieques," as environmentalists have claimed.

The third truth was the commander's response "to what is possibly one of the most absurd accusations made against the Navy": "We did not launch any nuclear device on Vieques or nearby (or in any other place in the Caribbean) in 1966."

Vieques is a small island southeast of Puerto Rico on which the U.S. Navy conducts training exercises and military maneuvers. These actions were suspended for more than a year following the death of a civilian guard in April 1999 when a projectile accidentally hit the observation post where he was working.

At the beginning of the year, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued directives limiting military exercises to 90 days a year until 2003, with only inert projectiles (not self-propelled), as well as a plan to transfer land and a referendum that allows the people of Vieques to decide if the U.S. Navy stays on the island.

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