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The struggle for peace in Vieques continues

The struggle for peace in Vieques continues, and it is as just and urgent today as it has ever been.
E D I T O R I A L
>>The struggle for peace in Vieques continues
>> Spring 2002

The struggle for peace in Vieques continues, and it is as just and urgent today as it has ever been. The US Navy still controls most of the land in Vieques, still may bomb at will, and still contributes to the destruction and deterioration of the environment, ecology, economy and health in Vieques.

It is important to point out that, in spite of what some erroneously say, there is NO mandate, from the U.S. Congress or from the President, that the U.S. Navy has to leave Vieques. There are only verbal "promises" by President Bush that the Navy should leave by next year.

As President and Command-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bush could have issued an executive order for the cessation of bombing in Vieques. He still can. So far, he hasn't. Instead, he acquiesced to what the U.S. Congress did in late 2001, when it passed a law that puts onerous requirements before the President may even consider ordering the Navy out of Vieques.

In short, the current law provides that the Secretary of the Navy, in consultation with the Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy and the Commandant of the Marines, has to certify that they have found one or more alternative locations that are equal or superior to Vieques, and that those locations are immediately available. And even if these requirements are met, and the President keeps his "word", the law provides that the federal government (and not Puerto Rico) will retain the lands and there is no provision for cleanup of the lands whatsoever.

In essence, the current legal status of the Vieques situation provides for onerous requirements for the Navy's departure of Vieques. Yet even if those requirements are met, the current legal status provides for the land to stay in the hands of the federal government.

The current situation flies in the face of the democratic will of the people of Vieques, and of the consensus in Puerto Rico and among millions of allies worldwide. On July 29, 2001, the people of Vieques were given the opportunity to cast a vote over the issue of the Navy presence on their island. In spite of all the money and undue influence of the Navy to try to influence the results, the people of Vieques spoke with a clear voice: 68 percent of the residents voted for the "Immediate and permanent termination of the military exercises and bombings of the Navy in Vieques, withdrawal of the Navy from Vieques, and cleaning and return of Viequense lands to its citizens."

Those just demands are unmet. The struggle for peace in Vieques continues, and so must civil disobedience, political pressure, and other means of achieving the ultimate goal of a Vieques free from the oppression and abuse of the U.S. Navy.
 
 

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