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Puerto Ricans to join Scottish US fight
The Guardian (United Kingdom)
Tuesday February 29, 2000
It is an unlikely venue for the latest round of a protest war between the US navy and Puerto Rican fishermen. But next week the tranquillity of Cape Wrath will be shattered by the dissenting voices of Caribbean islanders.
The coastline on the north western tip of Scotland will be the scene of a fresh battle between the groups as the fishermen try to stop US ships, led by the USS Dwight D Eisenhower, from using Cape Wrath for firing practice.
The Americans are using the ministry of defence's designated bombing area in Caithness after being forced off Puerto Rica by an outcry which began last April when an F-18 jet dropped two bombs off target and killed a civilian guard on the island of Vieques.
In protest at the killing, the renowned environmental activist Alberto de Jesus led the fishermen in their kayaks on to Vieques. His protest was phenomenally successful, not only pushing the US navy off the island, but reawakening the Puerto Rican independence movement.
Now Mr de Jesus plans to travel to Scotland to continue his fight against the US navy. He is liaising with Scottish environmental groups, who have long opposed the bombing of the isolated beauty spot. What began as a low-key protest has gained enormous momentum in Puerto Rica. The US navy was forced to admit it had, in violation of federal rules, fired ammunition tipped with depleted uranium on Vieques.
A further investigation by the Puerto Rican government uncovered more accidents at the training ground and the fishermen's protests have now a become a full-scale civil disobedience protest, orchestrated by those who no longer want the country to be a protectorate of the US.
A spokesman for the ministry of defence said allowing the Americans to bombard Cape Wrath was part of the routine co-operation between Nato member states.