93 thoughts on “Should the U.S. Navy get out of Vieques?

  1. Vieques
    Resolution of the Vieques problem and the colonial status of the Island are related. If the Island had two senators and a delegation in the House you would not have the Navy trying to force an unfair option on Vieques. Live bombing practices should have ended 40 years ago. Until Island residents are given an opportunity to choose between the only two honorable solutions-statehood or independence-in a Congressionally sponsored plebiscite history will continue to repeat itself in this fashion.

  2. RE: Vieques
    That’s what you think. It took Hawaii a while to get its target range shut down. Puerto Rico will settle the Vieques matter on its own terms, now. And its status will necessarily be called into question as is happening. In a piecemeal way, we are proving to be our own people–separate and distinct from La Marina and the people they represent.

  3. Clinton’s Vieques Statement
    Friday, December 3, 1999

    Text of Clinton’s Vieques Statement

    By The Associated Press

    Text of President Clinton’s statement Friday on U.S. military training on

    Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico.

    For several weeks, we have been working on how best to reconcile the imperative of providing satisfactory training for our armed forces, with the strong feelings of many residents of Vieques and Puerto Rico about the impact of training operations there. I have discussed this with the governor of Puerto Rico, the secretary of defense, the secretary of the Navy, the chief of naval operations, the commandant of the Marine Corps, and others.

    Today, the secretary of defense has recommended a plan of action which I

    believe offers the best avenue to addressing both needs. I have accepted

    that recommendation and am directing the secretary of defense to work with the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico so that we can move forward in a cooperative manner.

    I understand the longstanding concerns of residents of the island. These

    concerns cover a wide range of issues, from health and safety to the economy and the environment. They reflect a distrust that, unfortunately, has been building for decades. Those concerns must be addressed, and I believe our plan will do so in a constructive manner.

    At the same time, as commander-in-chief, I cannot send our servicemen and women into harm’s way if they have not been adequately trained. The training that our Atlantic Fleet has undertaken on Vieques since 1941 is important. While the Navy and the Marine Corps will develop a satisfactory alternative for the upcoming exercise, it will take several years to develop a comparable long-term replacement.

    The plan I am adopting today provides for the end of training on Vieques

    within five years, unless the people of Vieques choose to continue the relationship; restricts training activities during the transition period

    to those required by the services; sets forth an ambitious economic development plan for Vieques that would be implemented during this transition and gives the people of Puerto Rico and the Navy an opportunity to discuss this plan in order for it to be understood fully before training resumes this spring for this transitional period.

    In particular, the following steps will be undertaken:

    First, the Navy and the Marine Corps will make alternative arrangements

    which they deem satisfactory for training of the Eisenhower Battle Group

    and the WASP Amphibious Ready Group, scheduled for December. While such

    arrangements can be undertaken for the Eisenhower and WASP groups, they do

    not constitute a long-term alternative to Vieques. Rather, this period will provide an opportunity for the people of Vieques to discuss this plan with the Navy and the Marine Corps and understand it fully.

    Second, we will resume training next spring for a transition period, no

    longer than five years. This will enable the Navy to develop a suitable,

    long-term alternative. Training on Vieques will cease after this transition period unless the people of Vieques decide it should be continued. The Navy and the Marine Corps will develop a timetable to phase out operations in Vieques as soon as possible during the transition period, including transferring title of land to Puerto Rico beginning with the western quarter of the island.

    Third, when training resumes for this transition period it will be limited

    to inert ordnance only — no live fire — unless and until the people of

    Vieques decide differently. Training will be authorized for 90 days a year, what we need to meet our essential training needs.

    Finally, when training resumes we will implement an ambitious program that

    addresses the concerns that the community has had for so long — and that has been spelled out by the secretary of defense.

    I am convinced that this plan meets my essential responsibility as commander-in-chief to assure that our military forces are satisfactorily trained and ready, while at the same time addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of Vieques. It provides some breathing space so that the people on the island and the Navy and Marine Corps can proceed in an orderly and mutually respectful fashion.

  4. Flavio
    Que vamos a hacer?
    Que vamos a hacer? Primero, repudiar esto de la manera mas energica

    posible; recalcando que si antes habia consenso, ahora es mas fuerte que

    nunca. Si pretenden bombardear en abril, ya no van a tener ·nicamente que remover a varios manifestantes. Van a tener que destrozar un pueblo y sacar a cientos y cientos de personas. Hay que comenzar a convertir “los campamentos de desobediencia civil” en un Pueblo. Donde hay casetas de campana, construir casas, mas capillas, escuelitas. Reforestar. Sembrar palmas, arboles. Llevar mas estatuas, mas iconos religiosos, mas cruces, mas banderas, etc. (usando las areas previamente identificadas como que no tienen bombas).

    En fin, construir un pueblo o poblado en Vieques Libre. Demostrar que esta decision le anade lena al fuego de la resistencia pacifica y a la lucha no solo en Vieques, sino en la Isla Grande, en Estados Unidos y en el resto del mundo. Organizar manifestaciones, vigilias, protestas en todo el mundo. Estamos en pie de lucha. PA’LANTE!!!

  5. RE: Que vamos a hacer?
    Yo creo que es importantisimo consolidar los campamentos de desobediencia civil y formar un pueblo dentro del area que controlamos ahora mismo.

    Este pueblo lo debemos llamar LA PAZ para que si la Marina se propone

    destruirlo, arrestarnos y bombardear, sea aun mas negativa la prensa que

    reciban alrededor del mundo. No podemos dejar que los campamentos se vacien. Es importantisimo que acudamos alli lo antes posible.

    Yo hare todo lo posible por llegar a Vieques el 22 de diciembre. Ya empeze una campana de recaudar fondos de la Asociacion de Padres y Maestros del Colegio San Ignacio (se espera que donen $1,500), y creo que es importante que acudamos a la empresa privada para que haga aportaciones al nuevo pueblo que planeamos construir. Espero que todos hagan esfuerzos por recaudar fondos y recursos para construir este pueblo que sera el baluarte de la defensa de la voluntad de los puertorriquenos.

    Que creen de la idea de llamar al pueblo: LA PAZ ?

    Por favor escriban con comentarios y sugerencias, un abrazo a todos.

  6. Chicago’s Puerto Ricans to Unite in Protests
    Various Puerto Rican community leaders in Chicago announced Monday that they will travel to Puerto Rico next weekend to lend their support to protests calling for the U.S. Navy’s withdrawal from Vieques Island.

    The delegation will meet with representatives from the organizations that are carrying out a campaign of civil disobedience on Vieques to define

    their role in the crusade against the Navy’s presence on the island.

    Roberto Maldonado, from Cook County, Illinois’s Eighth District, said the

    unity of the Puerto Rican community and the firmness of the peaceful civil

    disobedience movement will have the greatest effect on the permanent

    withdrawal of the U.S. military from Vieques.

    Maldonado said he is prepared to travel to Vieques to join the civil disobedience movement when the time for new demonstrations approaches.

    At the same time, Chicago city councilman Billy Ocasio said that he and

    other Puerto Rican community leaders from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington “have our tickets ready to travel to the island and join the protests when it is necessary.”

    On Friday, U.S. President Bill Clinton authorized the resumption of live-fire exercises in mid-March 2000, although he cancelled the exercises scheduled for this month by the aircraft carrier “Eisenhower” and its support vessels.

    After receiving a detailed report prepared by the Pentagon, Clinton

    announced the implementation of a plan to withdraw the U.S. Navy from Vieques over the next five years, “unless the people of the island of Vieques decide to continue the relationship.”

    The delegation that will travel to Puerto Rico will also include the

    participation of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Dem.-IL), who criticized Clinton’s

    decision adding that it was an attempt to “cynically silence critics and

    manipulate and immobilize the opposition to the Navy remaining on Vieques.”

    “My frustration is so great because this announcement is, de facto, a decision by the Pentagon and not the result of a determination reached by the president,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

    In a clear reference to dozens of Puerto Ricans carrying out peaceful acts of civil disobedience on the Naval base on Vieques, Gutierrez urged the people of Puerto Rico “to remain united and continue exercising their right to free expression and assembly.”

    © 1999 EFE CHICAGO, December 6, 1999

  7. Puerto Rico Leader Resigns From Senate

    Puerto Rico Leader Resigns From Senate

    By Manuel Ernesto Rivera

    Associated Press, Saturday, Dec. 18

    VIEQUES, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s leading independence crusader, who

    announced his resignation from the local senate at the U.S. Navy-owned, bomb-ravaged beach where he has been protesting for months, is hardly leaving politics.

    The move by the white-bearded Ruben Berrios on Friday aims to free him to

    continue fighting to expel the Navy from Vieques Island – a cause which has

    galvanized Puerto Ricans.

    His protests have won him his highest profile ever, making him the face of

    Vieques. And he hopes the Vieques controversy might also boost his push for the island’s independence, a cause that Puerto Ricans have increasingly


    At a news conference on the beach he and fellow activists have occupied for

    seven months, Berrios announced his resignation, saying he didn’t want his

    prolonged absence in effect to deprive the Independence Party of its single

    seat in the 28-member senate.

    “The party needs a senator for next year (and) I cannot perform this function because I will be on Vieques until they arrest me or we achieve the objective of the people of Puerto Rico … for the Navy to pull out of Vieques,” said Berrios, who has served as senator a total of nearly 16 years over the last three decades.

    The 60-year-old law professor, educated at Oxford and Yale, was briefly jailed 27 years ago for a similar civil disobedience campaign that did lead

    the Navy to pull out of its training and bombing ground on another outlying

    island, Culebra.

    This time, with a nationalist tide sweeping Puerto Rico, U.S. authorities

    have treaded lightly with the protesters, whose campaign began after a Navy jet dropped two bombs off target and killed a civilian security guard on

    the bombing range.

    Puerto Rico’s Gov. Pedro Rossello – who favors U.S. statehood for the

    Spanish-speaking U.S. territory of 4 million – and other mainstream leaders

    have joined Berrios in demanding the Navy’s departure from Vieques. The

    Navy has said the facility, as the only Atlantic live-bombing site, is


    President Clinton proposed a compromise this month under which the Navy

    resume bombings next year, but only with dummy ammunition, and withdraw

    entirely from Vieques within five years. That was rejected by island leaders. Negotiations in Washington – and Berrios’ occupation of the range

    in Vieques – go on.

    Berrios is undeterred by polls and elections that show the overwhelming

    majority here supports the ties to the United States that have provided U.S. citizenship and unrestricted access to mainland jobs and have filled Puerto Rico with air-conditioned malls, fast-food restaurants and sport utility vehicles.

    He has argued that independence would not necessarily cost Puerto Ricans the good life, as his critics contend.

    Berrios is blamed by some for his party’s declining fortunes – 3 percent

    for independence in a referendum a year ago – because he toned down its

    socialist rhetoric and committed it to the idea of a peaceful break from the United States, which has ruled here for over a century.

    Ultra-leftists and nationalists who believed in a violent struggle have left the party in droves, and the party today remains something of an intellectual preserve.

    © Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

  8. Optimismo con la clausura de Roosevelt Roads
    domingo, 19 de diciembre de 1999

    Optimismo con la clausura de Roosevelt Roads

    Por Pablo J. Trinidad

    El Nuevo Dia

    LEJOS DE causar estragos en la economia, el cierre de la base naval Roosevelt

    Roads, que ha sido propuesto por los senadores John Warner y James Inhofe,

    podria servir como un catalitico para el desarrollo economico de Ceiba y otros municipios de la regiÛn este de la isla, segun los econoistas Elias

    Gutierrez y Jose Joaquin Villamil.

    Warner e Inhofe anunciaron la semana pasada que presentar·n una iniciativa

    ante la Comision de las Fuerzas Armadas para que se cierre la base naval

    Roosevelt Roads en Ceiba si la Marina de Guerra de los Estados Unidos no

    puede reanudar sus pr·cticas de bombardeo con municiones vivas en la isla municipio de Vieques.

    La aportacion de Roosevelt Roads a la economÌa local se estima en unos $300

    millones al ano en gastos de nomina y compras, segun la Marina.

    Las instalaciones militares proveen empleo para unas 2,000 personas.

    “Eso no es gran cosa. Obviamente (un cierre) tendria un impacto a corto plazo

    en Ceiba y en otros municipios. Pero en el resto de la isla no afectarÌa. No

    nos debemos sentir intimidados”, dijo el economista JosÈ JoaquÌn Villamil,

    presidente de la firma Estudios Tecnicos.

    Mas a largo plazo, el beneficio economico del cierre de Roosevelt Roads

    tendria una repercusion “extraordinaria” en el resto de la isla, indico


    Agrego que las instalaciones de la base, que cuenta con m·s de 8,000 cuerdas

    de terreno, un aeropuerto y nueve muelles se presta para desarrollos en areas como el turismo, la manufactura, parque de investigacion y desarrollo, y para transportacion marÌtima y aerea.

    Gutierrez califico la iniciativa de Warner e Inhofe “como un chantaje que se

    usa contra poblaciones de ignorantes porque se creen que porque ellos dicen

    que se van a perder 2,000 empleos a nosotros nos van a temblar las rodillas.

    Nosotros ya hemos perdido 24,000 empleos en la manufactura desde que se echo

    por el piso la Seccion 936 y el gobernador (Pedro) Rossello dice que eso es un pellizco de poco”, agrego Gutierrez.

    Gutierrez cuestiono el beneficio economico que las operaciones de Roosevelt Roads puedan tener en la region este, ya que no se ha realizado un estudio sobre el tema.

    “En el caso del agua se ha comprobado que ha sido un robo. En el usofructo de

    las tierras es un despojo. Y en cuanto a impacto ambiental, la contaminacion

    es desconocida. Lo otro es el costo de la oportunidad perdida”, agrego.

  9. Why is Uncle Sam picking on Vieques?
    I am concerned about the attitude of USA TODAY reader Bruce Bielfelt about Puerto Ricans being “crybabies” regarding the Vieques Island situation (“Puerto Rican burden,” Letters, Wednesday).

    Know some facts about Puerto Ricans before criticizing us:

    — We do not, as the letter writer said, have all of the benefits U.S. citizens have. We can’t even vote for the president, and we have no voting

    representation in Congress, thus making it impossible for us to file a

    formal congressional complaint. People like Bielfelt can vote and have

    representatives in Congress to whom they can cry whenever somebody from a

    government office does not serve well.

    — More Puerto Ricans, on a per-capita basis, have served in the U.S. armed forces than from any of the 50 states of the Union. Many Puerto Ricans have died in battle for this country. We are certainly not on anybody’s payroll, as the letter writer charged. We deserve what we have because of all the sacrifices we have had to make.

    The Vieques situation is not an issue about money. It’s an issue about

    people’s health and well-being.

    The U.S. Navy has been bombing Vieques for many years, and residents

    always have feared that one of these bombs might fall in their backyards.

    Would people in the United States like Bielfelt like to have a live-fire

    range in their backyards? I don’t think so.

    And if anyone tried to impose it, the people affected immediately would

    call their representatives in Congress and complain. But whom can Puerto

    Ricans call? No one.

    I know who the crybabies are. I live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and see crybabies all of the time.

    People hereabouts cry about traffic jams, Metro service, road rage and

    even the weather. Puerto Ricans, by contrast, have learned to cope, adapt

    and overcome.

    Why Vieques?

    There is plenty of land in the United States on which to conduct exercises other than that little island. Maybe the reason is that the little island does not have any representation in Congress.

    All I’m asking the letter writer to do is some homework before expressing

    an opinion.

  10. Should the marine courps get out of Vieques?
    I personaly thisnk that yes, that marines should get out of the island municipality, but not in the way that Ruben Berrios and Sila Calderón what them to leave, their idea is exentric and irrational. The situation in Vieques has been caused most of it by the partido poular democratico by keeping us as a colony with berely no rights in our nation. All of this could’ve been solved last year but it seems like the puerto rican electorate is not mature enough to decide what’s the best thing for Puerto Rico. The best example is given to us by Hawaii, when this state, the last one to join the Union, their Governor when to the Congress to tell the that the marine courps had to go from an unhabited island because it had “folkloric value” and the marine courps didn’t hesitate to do it because Haeaii had power now, not like us that have to be submited to everything the US goverment sais. I hope that everyone that reads this becomes self consious that the PPD can no longer tell us all the klies that they have been telling us for almost half-a-century. Well, God bless you all and may PR finaly decides soon what we’re going to do so that we can end with all this crap!

  11. On Vieques
    It is self-evident by now that there is a clear consensus here: the NAVY must leave Vieques. The question that we must explore now is what are we going to do to make sure that the NAVY leaves Vieques, and, that Viequenses get proper compensation for the environmental and economic damages the NAVY presence has brought to its inhabitants.

  12. RE: Que vamos a hacer?
    Mis disculpas. En la prisa no me di cuenta que ya habían sugerencias específicas para que hacer.
    Solo quiero a´nadir que es deber de todo periodista, documentalista, cineasta y reportero aparecerse por Vieques y bombardear al público norteamericano con mensajes que eduquen en cuanto a la complejidad colonial del caso de Vieques.

  13. RE: On Vieques
    Yes, I agree with PEYO1. We have already reached pretty much of a consensus that the U.S. Navy must leave. Although, Rosello appears to be waffling on the absolute terms of the Navy leaving without firing another shot. It’s time to talk about the next step. What if we a forcibly removed as we were in 1978? What will be our next move to meet the terms and conditions we have set for our country?

  14. Lesson to learn: Independence is best
    Dear Compatriots and Friends,

    After struggling for so long to remove the U.S. Navy from Vieques, the U.S. Government and its President insist on continuing to bombard our national territory. As a consequence of this colonialist attitude we should be outraged at such a blatant imperialist policy and come to understand that independence is the only true non-colonial status option. We should embrace independence so that never again a foreign nation imposes its will on us.

    We have a right to be free, there is no reason to deny ourselves such a fundamental priviledge. As an independent nation we will be able to make our own decisions, thus we will be a more prosperous country, free from U.S. economic impositions that have constrained our growth and development.

    Twelve other Caribbean nations have a higher per-capita income than Puerto Rico. It is time to assert our freedom and become an independent nation.

    We should not be afraid to be free as only we should have the sovereignty over ourselves. It is time to end our colonial status. Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre! Hans Perl-Matanzo

  15. RE: Lesson to learn: Independence is best
    Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans continue to mooch off of the United States. If the different classes in P.R. would have more dignity and pride, P.R. wouldn’t be such a dump. Thank God, you have the U.S. to protect you.

  16. Re: Ricky Martin: VIEQUES
    Oh well, if Ricky Martin says the Navy has got to go, then it should.
    What a bunch of rocket scientists comments we have here…

    Mrs. Sonia Rodríguez:

    I am sad to hear you describe my nation as a dump. I hope you confront the insensitivity of your comment.
    Puerto Rico is a proud nation that is struggling for its independence. Eventually we will be victorious because our cause is a just and moral one. We will overcome and show to the United States and to the world that a colony is detrimental to both the colonized and to the colonizers. You owe an appology to the six million Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico and abroad. Sincerely,
    Hans Perl-Matanzo, Harvard Students for Peace in Vieques, Now!

  18. RAPE – U.S. Armed Forces OUT of Puerto Rico
    Dear Compatriots and friends,

    The military occupation of our country

    is an abuse of power which helps reflect

    why our colonial status is not a valid

    option and is adverse to our national

    interest. The U.S. Armed Forces should

    compensate the victims of rape, assault

    and murder which have resulted as a consequence of their military occupation of our land. Cases like this one in Okinawa have occured in Puerto Rico too. TOKYO (AP) – A U.S. Marine has been arrested and accused of trying to rape a Japanese woman at a disco on the Japanese island of Okinawa, police said. Lance Cpl. Oswald McDonald, 29, dragged the woman into a corner of the disco Friday and attempted to sexually assault her, a spokesman for the Okinawa Prefectural police said.

    The woman resisted and the soldier

    backed off without physically injuring

    her, said the spokesman, who only

    identified himself by his last name,

    Shimada. The U.S. Marines confirmed the

    arrest on Friday, but gave no further

    details. Officials could not immediately

    provide McDonald’s hometown.

    Why should we permit the U.S. Government to invade and occupy our national territory?

  19. RE: RE: Lesson to learn: Independence is best
    To protect us from what??? To protect us from having dignity and liberty?

  20. RE: RE: Lesson to learn: Independence is best
    You characterize Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans as “mooching off” the U.S. but you state nothing to support your position. The reality is, that in all colonial situations, it is the colonial power that is “mooching off” the colony. In this case, the U.S. is “mooching off” Puerto Rico by: 1. Creating a subsidized marketplace for its products,

    2. Creating a pool of workers to exploit and discard when nolonger needed

    3. Establishing the largest off-shore naval base for military maneuvers, training its Navy and renting it out to foreign nations for their maneuvers…

    Well I could go on. I hope you will respond with concrete examples that will indicate that there is substance behind your words and not just a groundless feeling or bias perhaps cultivated by others ignorant of history and political economy. Please, share your knowledge not your prejudice.

  21. RE: RE: Vieques–Why The Navy must Leave Now.
    This is in reply to FREEDOM who seems to be very well informed on all military acty on the isl and who has visited Vieques, I would like to ask in what capacity have you visited Vieques and what it is you do for a living?

  22. RE: You obviously have never been there
    I guess you’ve never been to Puerto Rico. It’s actually quite beautiful there and the people are terrific.

  23. Toxic Waste and Bombs in Vieques’ Sea
    From: “Vieques Libre”

    Subject: Toxic Waste and Bombs in Vieques’ Sea

    SOURCE: The University of Georgia,

    University Communications, News Bureau

    WRITER: Phil Williams, 706/542-8501, philwpio@uga.edu

    CONTACT: James Porter, 706/542-3410, jporter@uga.edu



    ATHENS, Ga. — James Porter, a professor of ecology and marine sciences at

    the University of Georgia, was the coral reef expert who, with two other

    divers, discovered that live bombs and two sunken ships lay in the waters

    off the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

    Existence of the bombs and possible toxic waste in dozens of corroding

    drums still on the two vessels was made public today.

    “My view is the long view,” said Porter, a top coral reef expert who for

    many years has studied the decline of coral reefs around the world. “The

    question is my mind is simply this: How can we promote conservation in one

    of the most beautiful places on earth?”

    The island, which is within sight of the main island of Puerto Rico on its

    western end, has been the subject of controversy for years but intensely

    so since a Marine pilot dropped an errant bomb that killed a civilian

    security guard on the range which has been used for 58 years to prepare

    U.S. Navy and Marine forces for combat. Months of top-level negotiations

    with the U.S. government followed, during which President Clinton agreed

    not to reopen the site to live-fire training missions but proposed to

    reserve the right, over a phase-out period, to use it 90 days a year for

    use with “inert” bombs filled with concrete so that pilots could practice

    bombing techniques.

    Puerto Rico’s government and religious leaders subsequently rejected the

    compromise, and protests began on behalf of the island and its civilian

    population of more than 9,000. Protesters have been occupying parts of the

    Vieques range since April.

    Porter’s involvement began in July when the Puerto Rican government,

    seeking legal advice in dealing with the U.S. Navy, retained the Atlanta

    firm of King & Spalding, which hired Porter and two other men: James

    Barton of Underwater Ordnance Removal, Inc., a Virginia firm, and Fred

    Hoverkamp of Explosive and Reactive Materials, Inc., which is located in

    New Jersey. Together, at the request of the Puerto Rican government,

    Porter and Barton first visited Vieques on July 31 to examine the coral


    “The Puerto Ricans said they were told the holes in the reefs came from

    hurricanes and that there were no bombs in the waters off the islands,”

    said Porter. “We examined the area carefully and found that the holes were

    not from hurricanes, and there were a large number of live bombs in the

    waters as much as 400 yards offshore hundreds of live artillery shells and


    While negotiations continued between governor Pedro Rossello of Puerto

    Rico and U.S. officials in Washington, Puerto Rican officials asked the

    team to return once more to look for other evidence of damage to the coral

    reef. It was on this trip on Nov. 26, when the team discovered the

    wreckage of two ships loaded with barrels, some of which appeared to

    contain liquid while others appeared to be loaded with solid material. The

    ships lay in only 15-20 feet of water, and Porter estimated they had sunk

    about 10 to 12 years ago, based on the size of the corals which had grown

    on their hulls.

    The barrels were clearly leaking material into the water, and Hoverkamp

    took samples to determine if they held toxic materials. In addition,

    Porter said there was at least one compressed gas cylinders clearly

    visible, though what was inside the cylinders–if anything–was unknown.

    The team also used a device called a magnetometer to study the craters

    thought to have been created by hurricanes and found that all sectors of

    the crater walls had “metallic objects” or shrapnel in them, which, Porter

    said, confirm that bombs or explosives caused the craters.

    The team named the off-island shipwreck sites the “Reef of Barrels” and

    the “Barge of Barrels.” The Reef of Barrels consists of a ship at least

    100 feet long and 35 feet wide with between 150 and 200 barrels showing

    from a partially breached hull. Porter said this site is extremely

    dangerous because of an abundance of live artillery shells and bombs.

    The Barge of Barrels site includes a barge whose hull is broken in two,

    with a stern section 105 feet long and a disintegrating bow section at

    least 15 feet long. Porter said the team’s best estimate is that there are

    perhaps 900-1000 barrels at this site, which is also littered with

    unexploded ordnance.

    “There were two types of 55-gallon drums at both sites,” said Porter.

    “They had either screw-on bung-hole stoppers or strap-down lids. The

    former are designed for liquids and the latter for solids.”

    Porter has been widely quoted in the past few years as an expert on the

    decline of coral reefs, especially in south Florida, and his work has led

    to new knowledge about how corals grow and thrive.



  24. Open Letter to President Clinton
    January 30, 2000

    William Jefferson Clinton

    President of the United States of America

    As the Director of Harvard University Students and Professors for Peace

    in Vieques, Now!, an organization which counts with the support of over 60

    Harvard Professors and 500 students, we formally request that you order

    the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. Military personnel from the island of

    Vieques. As Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, you have

    Constitutional power to order this withdrawal immediately.

    The people of Vieques have suffered far too much, for far too long, it is

    time to put an end to the suffering caused by the U.S. Navy in Vieques.

    Our request is simple: not a single more shot fired in Vieques, not with

    live bombs, not with dummy bombs, not with any type of bombs. If you give

    the go-ahead for a continuation of military maneuvers in Vieques,

    thousands of Puerto Ricans will swarm the beaches of Vieques to serve as

    human shields against the scheduled U.S. Navy bombardment.

    If you insist on ordering the U.S. Navy to bombard Vieques, you will have

    to arrest thousands of Puerto Ricans who will await the U.S. Navy ships

    and the U.S. Federal Marshalls. You will also have to deal with the

    world-wide condemnation of the International Socialist, since its

    Honorary President, Ruben Berrios has been living inside the U.S. Navy

    firing range in Vieques for the past eight month. Ruben Berrios will

    not leave until the U.S. Government agrees to close down its military

    instalations in Vieques.

    You can either decide to stop the Navy’s plan to bombard Vieques in March,

    or confront the responsability of ordering the arrest of the President of

    the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the Honorary President of the

    International Socialist. I do not recommend that you jeopardize your

    international prestige and the legacy of your Presidency by performing the

    cowardly act of arresting Ruben Berrios. To do so would force you to pay

    a price which is far too high: accept the resoponsability of robbing a

    man of his liberty for the crime of defending the freedom of his nation.

    To order the incarceration of Ruben Berrios will not silence his

    condemnation of U.S. colonial rule over Puerto Rico, it shall only strengthen his condemnation by a thousandfold. From Timbuctu to Beijing, you are on the verge of being remembered as a two-faced President who on one hand celebrated the legacy of Marin Luther King and on the other hand imprisoned a man for peacefully defending his country from U.S. Navy bombardment. Is this how you want to be remembered around the world?

    If that is not the legacy you seek, we request your immediate action:

    remove all U.S. Military personnel from Vieques.

    We hope you will avoid having to arrest thousands of brave Puerto Ricans

    who are defending their homeland. I am sure that if you were confronted with a foreign nation attempting to bombard the

    United States, you would also choose defend your country. We are doing

    what you would do if your country were threatened by similar circumstances. Since your country is threatened by the Armed Forces you head, we believe it is necessary to inform you of our pledge to defend our nation with all our might.

    Now you know our pledge, now you know the irrpearable cost of arresting

    Ruben Berrios and his brave countrymen, we hope you understand it clearly

    before you take a decision.


    Hans Perl-Matanzo / Harvard University Students and Professors for Peace

    in Vieques, Now!

  25. DÓNDE ESTÁ ?

    La propuesta del plebiscito es absolutamente antidemocrática.

    Como Rosselló tiene la fuerza de cara de decir que ahora los viequenses son quienes van a poder decidir el futuro de su municipio?

    Primero: la propuesta deja que los viequenses decidan entre GUATEMALA o GUATEPEOR. Si el propuesto plebiscito fuese democrático le permitiría a los viequenses expresarse inmediatamente sobre su posición real: el cese inmediato de toda actividad militar en Vieques. La Marina sabe que los viequenses quieren que la Marina se vaya inmediatamente de Vieques. Por lo tanto, la Marina no se atreve permitir que esta opción aparezca en la papeleta.

    Segundo: la Marina no se tiene que ir de Vieques en tres años. Si el próximo Presidente decide que no está de acuerdo con la orden ejecutiva de Clinton, puede desautorizar la orden de Clinton y ordenar que la Marina se quede en Vieques indefinidamente. Que clase de acuerdo es ese? Si el próximo Presidente es el que va a decidir, entonces el acuerdo con Clinton no tiene fuerza de ley. Clinton prometió lo que no puede cumplir. En tres años Clinton no va a ser el Presidente de los Estados Unidos y por lo tanto no va a poder cumplir lo que prometió ayer.

    Su orden caduca el 15 de enero del año 2001. Luego de esa fecha habrá un nuevo Presidente que puede optar por desactivar la orden ejecutiva de Clinton.

    En fin, este acuerdo significa que Rosselló permitió que continúe el bombardeo en Vieques indefinidamente, sin ninguna garantía real de que la Marina se vaya de Vieques en tres años.

    Dónde en el acuerdo dice que la Marina acatará la volutntad de los Viequenses? Dónde en el acuerdo dice que el próximo Presidente estará obligado a aceptar la voluntad de los viequenses?

    Rosselló nos traicionó. Ahora la gran interrogante es: Qué hará Sila Calderón? La Alcaldesa de San Juan cumplirá su palabra de recurrir a la desobediencia civil ahora que los bombardeos en Vieques son inminentes?

    Espero que el Partido Popular cumpla su deber patriótico de establecer un campamento de desobediencia civil en Vieques. En solidaridad con Vieques,

    Hans Perl-Matanzo

  26. Yes, and also out of Roosevelt Roads
    The U.S. should get out of Vieques and Roosevelt Roads. Turn up the heat! How dare Clinton single out the people of Vieques from the Puerto Rican people. This adds insult to injury. There is the direct attempt to break the solidarity of the people. It is comparable to France trying to cut a deal with New York City and pay us New Yorkers to let the French Navy use our piers without communicating with the American people and only dealing with those in government who support their interests. The U.S. would never allow this and neither would any state or state governor. Rosello is really going out on a limb and I’m wondering what the Pentagon is promising him for his political future.

  27. Voice your Condemnation to Clinton’s order to BOMB


    !Not one More Bomb in Vieques!

    The VIEQUES SOLIDARITY NETWORK is calling an Emergency Demonstration
    tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2, 2000 in front of the Puerto Rico Federal
    Affairs Offices in New York to protest Governor Rosselló’s betrayal of the
    will of the people of Puerto Rico that the Navy stop bombing Vieques.

    Governor Rosselló consented to the continuation of Navy bombing in
    Vieques. Protest against the actions of the governor and demonstrate your
    support for the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico!

    PLACE: 33rd Street and Park Avenue
    TIME: Starts at 5:00 PM



    !Not one More Bomb in Vieques!

    The VIEQUES SOLIDARITY NETWORK is calling an Emergency Demonstration
    tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2, 2000 in front of the Puerto Rico Federal
    Affairs Offices in New York to protest Governor Rosselló’s betrayal of the
    will of the people of Puerto Rico that the Navy stop bombing Vieques.

    Governor Rosselló consented to the continuation of Navy bombing in
    Vieques. Protest against the actions of the governor and demonstrate your
    support for the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico!

    PLACE: 33rd Street and Park Avenue
    TIME: Starts at 5:00 PM

  29. Letter to Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
    Anibal Acevedo Vila


    Partido Popular Democratico


    Te conoci hace catorce an~os y he

    seguido tu carrera politica

    desde sus inicios. Hoy, 2 de febrero del

    2000, se define tu carrera como

    politico y servidor publico. No solo

    esta en juego tu credibilidad

    personal sino la credibilidad del

    partido al cual perteneces.

    Durante los ultimos meses la Presidenta

    del Partido Popular, Sila

    Calderon, ha afirmado que el PPD acudira

    a la desobediencia civil como

    “ultima alternativa” para defender a

    Vieques de futuro bombardeo. Tu

    tambien afirmaste que acudirias a la

    desobediencia civil en el “momento


    Todavia existe esperanza de que no caiga

    una bomba mas sobre el suelo

    viequense. No existe razon para que el

    PPD se rinda ante el acuerdo

    anti-democratico de Pedro Rossello y

    Bill Clinton. La esperanza de que

    no se dispare una bomba mas en Vieques

    depende de ti.

    Ambos sabemos que si tu cumples con tu

    palabra y con tu deber patriotico,

    sera’ extremadamente dificil que

    continuen los planes de bombardeo en

    Vieques. Te exhorto a que no le falles a

    Puerto Rico y que no le falles a

    tu palabra.

    Anibal, si tu’ y Sila Calderon toman la

    decision de acudir a Vieques

    existe una posibilidad altisima de que

    no ocurra el bombardeo pautado para

    comenzar en marzo. Es imperativo que

    ambos cumplan con su palabra de

    acudir a la desobediencia civil, no solo

    para conservar su credibilidad

    ante el pueblo de Puerto Rico, sino para

    defender a nuestra nacion del

    bombardeo inminente.

    Si no cumples con tu deber por

    principios morales, te exhorto a que

    cumplas por pragmatismo. Si es honesto

    tu planteamiento de que quieres que

    “no haya un solo bombardeo” en Vieques,

    entonces te pido que no

    permanezcas en las gradas criticando el

    bombardeo. Anibal, no sigas

    racionalizando la negativa del PPD a

    acudir a la desobediencia civil.

    Todos la mayoria de los puertorriquen~os

    incluyendo los miembros del PNP,

    saben que la desobediencia civil es el

    recurso mas poderoso para lograr el

    cese permanente de los bombardeos.

    Te pido que hagas lo unico que puedes

    hacer para evitar que caigan mas

    bombas en Vieques: acude a Vieques a

    servir de escudo humano.

    No existe una manera mas contundente de

    proteger la paz en Vieques que

    cumplir tu promesa y hacer desobediencia

    civil como “ultimo recurso”.

    Si permaneces en las gradas criticando a

    Rossello’, ocurrira’ el

    bombardeo y el PPD se convertira’ en

    complice de la ausencia de paz en

    Vieqeues. El futuro de Vieques esta’ en

    tus manos. Como Vice-Presidente

    del Partido Popular es tu

    responsabilidad acudir a la

    desobediencia civil. Anibal, tu bien

    sabes que este acto valiente no solo es

    tu deber, sino que tambien es la manera

    mas efectiva de parar el bombardeo.

    Anibal, cuento contigo, cuento con tu

    palabra. Llego’ el momento de

    cumplir tu promesa.

    Puerto Rico espera tu presencia en


    Hans Perl-Matanzo

  30. Ricky Martin Condemns U.S. Navy Bombing

    SAN JUAN (AP) – El cantante Ricky Martin reiteró hoy que está en contra de la realización de ejercicios militares en cualquier parte del mundo donde se puedan ver afectados civiles y la naturaleza, especialmente en Vieques.

    “La Marina debe salir de Vieques lo más pronto posible´´, dijo el cantante
    en un comunicado de prensa.

    Sobre las órdenes ejecutivas del presidente Bill Clinton respecto a Vieques, mediante su representante artístico Angelo Medina, Martin dijo que “no es la alternativa ideal, ni quizás la esperada´´.

  31. Statehood, Now?
    Please do not discard my opinions because I am neither a resident of Vieques, or a Puerto Rican. I do share a common bond with you though, Vieques is in my heart and I dare not let her go! Hans, you are a good friend, but I don’t know that independence is the way to go. I believe that if Puerto Rico would vote statehood, you would be rid of the Navy without question. Your income level would increase and your GNP would increase as well. Granted part of Puerto Rico’s charm is it’s heritage, that can be kept while embracing statehood. This is only my opinion… and as Hans knows, my mind is open and I know how to rationalize, so give me your opinion and I will weigh it and discuss it more until I reach another opinion.

  32. Independence is Best
    Dear Ben:

    I believe in independence regardless of economic considerations. However, I also believe that independence would be the best way to ensure a healthy and prosperous economy. This is a very complicated matter which we should discuss face to face when we meet in Vieques. For now, I strongly recommend that you go to amazon.com and that you buy a book called PUERTO RICO: THE TRIALS OF THE OLDEST COLONY IN THE WORLD, by José Trías Monge. It will give you a sound historical backround of Puerto Rican politics in this century. I hope you read the book very carefully so you can give a well-thought out opinion. After you read this book we can continue our discussion at more lenght. For now, I’ll answer any question you have. The book is fairly objective. In fact, the author is notorious for being an integral part of the Puerto Rican colonial government’s campaign to imprison Puerto Ricans who believed in independence. During the time he held the office of Secretary of Justice in Puuerto Rico, he was responsible for the imprisonment of hundreds of independence advocates, not only those who supported revolution, but also those encarcerated for the crime of owning a Puerto Rican flag. Despite the author’s questionable past, his book will provide a sound backround for our future discussions. I think you will profit greatly by reading this book. Looking forward to seeing your reply, un abrazo, Hans Perl-Matanzo

  33. Statehood does not mean an end to the bombardment
    Dear Ben:

    States like Hawaii, Massachusetts and Nevada have suffered from the curse of training and bombardment conducted by the U.S. Armed Forces. The U.S. Navy would not stop training in Vieques just Puerto Rico became a state of the Union. Statehood would only strengthen the argument that “as a part of the United States we have a ‘patriotic’ responsibility to national defense”. Not even sovereign countries such as Cuba and Japan have been able to rid themselves of U.S. Navy bases within their national territory. In the 1990s the people of Okinawa expressed themselves against the continued presence of U.S. Military bases in their island. They even voted in a referendum were they chose to eject the U.S. Armed Forces from their land, but the U.S. Government has refused to leave. Since 1959 the Cuban Government has asked the U.S. Navy to close down its military base in Guantánamo but the U.S. Government has never been willing to negotiate its withdrawal from this military base in Cuba. Ben, what does this tell us? It is clear that powerful independent countries such as Cuba and Japan, who are represented in the United Nations, have not been able to rid themselves of the unwanted U.S. Military occupation. It is time for the President of the United States to put an end to this world-wide and systematic abuse of power. Becoming a state will only make us a permanent colony of the United States. Since we are a separate nation, with a different language, with a different culture, our STAR does not fit in the United States’ flag. It is time for us to accept the responsibility to govern ourselves. Liberty is a fundamental right which has been denied to Puerto Ricans for way too long. Regards, Hans Perl-Matanzo

  34. RE: Statehood, Now?

    I do see your point and your reasoning behind wanting independence. But I still cannot think that it is best for Puerto Rico or The United States. I am not talking about the governments of either nation, but the people. Granted anywhere that there is a military base, there are people who want it to leave… But look at Mass. just rescently the EPA forced the closing of a base there for ecological damage. In Hawaii, they have gotten a training ground similar to Vieques shut down. In Florida the military cannot practice with live ammunition. *If* Puerto Rico would become the 51st state, Puerto Rico would no longer be under colonial rule, for one nature of colonial rule is simply the enforced laws without representation which would change. The rules would change in Puerto Rico’s favor and the represenatives in Washington would have a bang to go along with their bucks so to speak. As I said before, this is my opinion and I am interested to hear other comments… Hans, thanks for listening! Un Abrazo, Ben

  35. RE: Statehood, Never!
    Seeing that we are beginning to personalize this board–Ben, we don’t know each other and we are in complete disagreement about the future of Puerto Rico. I know you are well-intentioned, but your perspective is basically evaluating a nation as a sum of goods–which it is not. To refer to our culture and heritage as “charming” is tellingly patronizing and reveals a TACO BELL sensibility on your part. The reality is that Puerto Rico is a Latin American nation with its own distinct culture from the U.S. and that would not survive its incorporation as a state. There is enough of precedence in California, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska to serve as examples of having their distinct cultures reduced to “charming heritages.” Also taking on the GNP of the U.S. as its own does not mean Puerto Rico would partake in all the glories of consumerism. It would look more like some combination of Mississippi and Florida — a bleak prospect. As it is, Puerto Rico is already overbuilt, with problems of congestion. Has anyone ever driven a FORD Bronco through Old San Juan? It’s ridiculous. Has anyone visited the Mall in Hato Rey? Do you want to talk about pending ecological disasters besides Vieques and the water shortages? The American model of design: the air conditioned mall, the automobile dependent suburbs are inappropriate for Puerto Rico. It is an unsuitable design for living. As we in the U.S. are becoming all too fully aware. You have not made a very good case for statehood and it is offensive for you to use the terms “charming” and “heritage” in refering to our culture. Mind you, here in the States people have “heritages” and “ethnicities.” In Puerto Rico and other nations, they have their own cultures and histories.

  36. What I do give you

    I will grant you that Puerto Rico does not need the airconditioned malls of the states, nor does it need the white washing of the culture of Puerto Ricans. I am sorry if I offended you when I said “Granted part of Puerto Rico’s charm is it’s heritage…” I did not in any way intend that to be offensive. I see how better terms could have been used to express my thoughts. I should have spoken of is the rich culture in which, I will be honest with you, I am mesmerized with. I have recieved a taste of it and that is not enough. I will grant that Statehood is not as attractive as most would like to admit… But is independance better? I am not sure… Please tell me your reasons to think independance is the option to go… I am not calling for a list of why not a state, but why a separate nation? Convince me of your stance. I am out of solutions, I cannot argue for independance or statehood anymore…


  37. RE: What I do give you
    Independence is the only way that Puerto Rico will be able to preserve itself as a distinct culture and people–even in the brutal face of neocolonialism. Statehood guarantees the annihilation of our culture and people. We will become ethnics with a “heritage” some of us may want to cling to. To remain a colony, which for some still appears a viable option, means the lack of self-determination. That is, not being able to set a course for Puerto Rico that is suited to this Caribbean nation’s needs and aspirations/objectives. It means always being subject to the needs and objectives of a foreign power. Look at the problem in Vieques. It only exists because we have a foreign army on our soil. Might a Puerto Rican army do the same? There’s that possibility. But if the people rose up, the way they have, do you think the army/government would respond? I think so. The overbuilding of the island is really an outgrowth of U.S. federal mortgage plans and real estate developers/speculators. Might there be better planning and development that suits the islands ecology and population density more effectively. Yes, will it happen under present circumstances? No.

  38. Navy says: “inert bombs” are very dangerous
    The leaders of Puerto Rico have the

    moral responsibility to condemn

    President Clinton’s order to continue

    bombing in Vieques with “intert bombs”.

    Herein I include the result of a U.S.

    Navy investigation which concluded that

    inert bombs” are so dangerous that they

    decided to increase the use of “live

    bombs” as a substitute for “inert bombs”

    “In 1992 the Navy shifted to more inert

    and fewer live rounds for

    NSFS [Naval Surface Fire Support]

    training in an effort to reduce the

    overall amount of live ordnance expended

    at Vieques. This was achieved,

    but safety margins in other areas were

    adversely impacted. First, Navy

    recognized the tendency of inert NSFS

    ordnance to skip on impact because

    of trajectory angle, often coming to

    rest far from the intended aimpoint.

    This skipping could endanger fisherman

    and pleasure boaters who enter the

    restricted area around the LIA during

    range operations. Second, the

    process of having the ship/Marine team

    exercise live weapon handling,

    loading, and delivery, as well as damage

    assessment was not fully

    exercised. The net result of the

    missing dynamics was increased risk to

    the Marines ashore in combat. As a

    consequence, a shift was made back to

    more live NSFS and fewer inert.”

  39. Poll
    This poll of 600 adults residents of Puerto Rico was conducted by American

    Viewpoint, Inc., from June 9-11, 1997, with a margin of error of 4.1%.


    1. Do you consider yourself to be only Puerto Rican, only American or BOTH?

    65% Puerto Rican

    18% Both

    16% American

    1% Refused/No answer

    2. Can you recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States?

    63% No

    11% I don’t know what that is

    26% Yes

    3. Do you know the words of “The Star Spangled Banner”?

    66% No

    5% I don’t know what that is

    28% Yes

    1% Refused to answer/no answer

    4. In general, do you support Commonwealth, Statehood, or Independence for Puerto Rico?

    42% Commonwealth (ELA-Colonial Status)

    40% Statehood

    7% Independence

    8% Unsure

    4% Refused/No Answer

    5. (Asked of those who responded “Commonwealth” in Question 4.)

    Would you support statehood if a new Commonwealth does not guarantee

    American citizenship for the children of Puerto Ricans in the future?

    43% Yes

    40% No

    8% Maybe (Answer was volunteered)

    7% I don’t Know

    3% Refused/No Answer

    6. (Asked to only those who responded “Statehood” in Question 4.)

    Which one of the following is your principal reason for supporting


    16% Because we would not lose welfare, food stamps and social benefits from Congress and may receive increased benefits.

    23% Because I feel American and the United States is my country.

    37% Because of the civil rights we will have as American citizens.

    16% Because I do not want Independence.

    8% Other/I don’t know

    7. (Asked of those who responded “Statehood” in Question 4.)

    If adoption of English as the only official language of Puerto Rico was a

    requirement to Puerto Rico being granted Statehood, would you still favor

    Puerto Rico becoming a state?

    77% Yes

    16% No

    5% I don’t Know

    2% Refused/No Answer

    8. Do you believe that a super-majority of 75% of the vote, rather than a simple plurality of the vote, should be required for the approval of statehood?

    57% Yes

    29% No

    12% I don’t Know

    2% Refused/No Answer

    9. Have you ever lived in the mainland United States?

    53% Yes

    46% No

    1% Refused/No Answer

    Note: The 1990 U.S. Census found that 98.2% of the Puerto Rican population

    over the age of five spoke Spanish. Of those that spoke Spanish, 52.3%

    spoke no English, 24.1% spoke English with difficulty, and ONLY 23.6%

    spoke English well.

    This poll of 600 adults residents of Puerto Rico was conducted by American

    Viewpoint, Inc., from June 9-11, 1997, with a margin of error of 4.1%.

    Copyright (c) 1997 by U.S.ENGLISH, Inc.

  40. RE: Why is Uncle Sam picking on Vieques?
    puerto rico has an unemployment rate of 50% that is disgraceful. The US alone gives 11 billion dollars anually to puerto rico more than any other country in the world, puerto ricans do not have to pay income taxas or anything. face it the US supports your sorry asses

  41. RE: Why is Uncle Sam picking on Vieques?
    puerto rico has an unemployment rate of 50% that is disgraceful. The US alone gives 11 billion dollars anually to puerto rico more than any other country in the world, puerto ricans do not have to pay income taxas or anything. face it the US supports your sorry asses

    If they really want them out they must take action into there own hands and showhow much they want those motherfuckers out of PR protests don’t allways help more action less talk

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