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Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 23:53:24 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Workers World" <ww@wwpublish.com
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Pentagon plans to take over Vieques, P.R.
Article: 63435
Message-ID: <bulk.29354.19990509001523@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Pentagon plans to take over Vieques 'Accidental' U.S. Bombing Protested

By Carlos Rovira, in Workers World, 13 May 1999

A group of about forty people is now occupying a crater on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, that was caused by a fatal April 21 explosion of missiles fired by a U.S. F-18 jet fighter plane. The two missiles killed one person and wounded four others.

This "accident" was the consequence of a long history of reckless arrogance by U.S. colonialism. Disrespect and complete disregard for the sovereignty of Puerto Rico is what the Pentagon's presence in Vieques represents.

Because the people of Vieques are united and are winning broad support throughout Puerto Rico, the Pentagon has been forced to halt all military exercises on the island. The brass is reluctant to order military police to arrest the protesting occupiers.

On May 1, many residents gathered to demonstrate along the perimeter of the military zone. They waved Puerto Rican flags and signs reading, "U.S. Navy Out!"

Fishers in an armada of boats defied U.S. colonial laws by staging a protest in waters forbidden to civilian vessels.

Do a Luisa Guadalupe, of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, told Workers World, "We would rather die before surrendering our homes to the intruders. This is something we have demonstrated to the U.S. Navy ever since they began to push us out when they first arrived in the 1940s.

"They have disrupted our lives, they have driven us to a tiny part of this island, they have made us sick with their contamination of the air, water and soil. But this time, Viequenses will make a final stance, if necessary, no matter what the odds against us are."

The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques is the grassroots organization formed by the people of this island to challenge the U.S. Navy's encroachment. It is strongly supported by environmentalists, labor unions, pro- independence and socialist organizations throughout Puerto Rico.

The hatred that the people have for the military is for very good reason. Pentagon technology and weapons testing is suspected of causing the high cancer rate that exists there__one of the highest in the entire Caribbean.

Fragments from the explosive TNT and other contaminating residue from military weapons have been found in recent years by Puerto Rican scientists in the water of the township of Esperanza.

And the military presence has caused a deterioration of the economic life of Vieques. Practice bombings and shellings have had a devastating effect on fishing__which is the most important livelihood for the people of this island.

Military waste has damaged the ecology, especially contaminating surrounding waters where much of the marine life has perished.

The agenda of the Pentagon to gain complete control of Vieques is quite apparent. This is evident through gradual encroachment of territory. And it's also apparent in the horrifying impact of constant U.S. naval bombardments from warships and planes that threaten the lives of native inhabitants as explosions come increasingly close to the civilian populated zone.


Like Okinawa in the Pacific, Vieques is used as a target practice range for U.S. naval operations intended for Latin America and the Atlantic. The island is also leased to armed forces of other imperialist countries__such as the members of NATO__for the same purpose.

U.S. colonialism is carrying out a subtle scheme in Vieques to grant the Pentagon total control of the island.

Part of the "agreements" made between the San Juan colonial government and the U.S. Department of Defense is that once the locally registered civilian population of Vieques drops below 6,000, inhabitants will be "relocated" or forcibly removed from the island.

Not a single child has been born in Vieques in nearly fifteen years since there are no maternity wards in hospitals on that island.

Women about to give birth are flown to medical facilities in Fajardo, Puerto Rico by military helicopters. The newborns are then registered as born in Fajardo.

Although mothers may return to Vieques with their newborns, colonialism does not recognize the existence of these children. The colonialist "agreement" has established that the population count will only apply to those whose births are registered in Vieques.

It is hideous that the U.S.-installed puppets in San Juan were fast to object to a proposal by the municipal government of Vieques for the construction of a maternity facility. This request expressed the wishes of the people of Vieques.

How criminal are the colonizers__using methods of genocide to push Puerto Ricans out of their own homeland.

This latest outrage is reminiscent of the secret sterilization of one-third of the child-bearing female population from the 1930s to the 1960s, when Washington expressed contempt for its colonized and super-exploited victims by maliciously interfering with the natural process of the population growth of the Puerto Rican nation.

If there is anyone who needs to be forcibly removed from Vieques and all of Puerto Rico by decree, it is the U.S. colonizers and their military forces. Vieques rightfully belongs to the Puerto Rican people__a right that will be respected only with a victorious struggle for national liberation.

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