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International Action Center sends delegation to Vieques, Puerto Rico
International Action Center
November 24, 1999
International Action Center sends delegation to Vieques, Puerto Rico, demands US Navy out of Vieques, Clinton Administration Hands Off the Vieques encampments.
A delegation from the International Action Center traveled to Vieques, Puerto Rico, from November 18 to November 22, 1999. The trip was organized after the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques made a call for all those who could to travel to Vieques during the Nov. 19 weekend. The call was made because this is a critical moment in the struggle to oust the Navy from the island.
Tensions are mounting in the seven-month-long struggle to oust the U.S. Navy from Vieques. When a Puerto Rican civilian, David Sanes, was killed on April 19 by a stray Navy bomb, the people of Vieques and all of Puerto Rico stepped up their struggle.
On November 13, President Clinton phoned Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Rosselló to notify him of his decision. Clinton wants Rosselló to accept a December deadline to resume bombing and other military practices. This tentative decision has not made it to many news services but has been a daily news item in the Spanish press in the U.S. and on the island.
The IAC delegation, which consisted of Berta Joubert-Ceci from Philadelphia, and Teresa Gutierrez and Elena Peckham from NYC, reports that the mood of the people in Vieques and throughout Puerto Rico is strong and firmly behind the call to oust the Navy. All of the people interviewed by this delegation expressed that there is no way that the U.S. Navy will resume bombing in Vieques. Students from the Big Island, fishermen and women's organizations from Vieques, church and union leaders were adamant in the massive call of: "Not one more bomb!" This sentiment was expressed over and over in two actions in particular in front of the U.S.'s Camp Garcia on Saturday and Sunday.
IAC representatives interviewed participants from the seven encampments on the side of the island where the Navy operations usually are. The presence of the heroic encampments has prevented the Navy from carrying out their deadly military activities.
However, the USS Naval ship the Eisenhower is steadily making its way back to Vieques. There is an eminent danger that the U.S. government will move in and arrest the people of the seven encampments in order to resume military operations in December.
Now is an urgent moment for the people of Vieques and all of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Navy has brought havoc to Vieques. Dangerously high cancer rates, unnecessarily high unemployment and the inability of the people of Vieques to use their beautiful island as they wish legitimize the call to oust the Navy from Vieques immediately.
The IAC joins the call of the people of Vieques. It demands that the Pentagon and the Clinton administration keep its hands off the people's encampment and leave Vieques now.