miércoles, mayo 04, 2016

A Vieques op-ed I wrote in early 2000

U.S. Naval Installations Map, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

> Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero 
> Millions of Americans learned in the first week of May (2000) 
> that there is an island in the Caribbean Sea named 
> Vieques, and that it is the site of a peaceful, 
> nonviolent struggle against the most powerful military 
> apparatus in the world. 
> On May 4th, hundreds of U.S. marshals, FBI agents and 
> Puerto Rican riot police came to this idyllic 
> island-town of Puerto Rico to remove hundreds of 
> protesters that were camping in lands that the U.S. 
> Navy uses as a firing range. 
> The Navy occupied 26,000 of Vieques's 33,000 acres in 
> 1941, and has since then used those lands not only for 
> target practice, but also for naval maneuvers, 
> amphibian landings, munitions storage and toxic waste 
> disposal. 
> In April of last year a stray bomb killed a civilian 
> security guard working in the firing range. That was 
> the last straw for the residents of Vieques and for 
> concerned citizens from all over Puerto Rico. For more 
> than a year, protesters, which included members of 
> religious, student and peace organizations, camped in 
> the range in order to serve as a human shield to 
> prevent the bombing from resuming. 
> Civil disobedience? Who's really being disobedient 
> here? The Puerto Rico Bar Association determined that 
> the United States government is violating its own laws 
> in Vieques, including the Endangered Species Act, the 
> Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National 
> Environmental Policy Act and the much-celebrated 
> Executive Order on Environmental Justice, signed by 
> president Clinton himself; as well as international 
> commitments, like the United Nations Charter, the 
> Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 1992 
> Rio Declaration. 
> Defenders of the Navy are quick to claim that the only 
> obstacle to solving the Vieques crisis is the 
> protesters, who are allegedly seeking a confrontation 
> that will worsen the U.S.'s relations with Puerto 
> Rico. They point out that Clinton proposed a 
> referendum in which the island-town's residents will 
> decide whether or not they want the Navy to stay. 
> Let's take a closer look at this referendum. Vieques 
> residents will have to choose between two options: the 
> Navy stays or goes. But if they vote for the Navy's 
> departure, it will stay for three more years, 
> practicing with inert non-explosive ammunition for 90 
> days a year. Plus the Navy gets to determine the 
> parameters of the referendum, even its date. 
> The people of Puerto Rico do not want the Navy to stay 
> three more years or even three more hours in Vieques. 
> They want its immediate and permanent withdrawal. 
> Nothing else will do. 

> The Navy has no credibility in Vieques. In 1983 it 
> signed a memorandum of understanding with the 
> government of Puerto Rico in which it committed itself 
> to help protect Vieques's environment and help with 
> its economic development. Last year the Navy admitted 
> that it had not honored the promises it had made in 
> the memorandum. In any case, how many treaties with 
> Native Americans has the U.S. government honored? 
> What if this time the Navy breaks its word "by 
> mistake"? It admitted last year that it had tested 
> depleted uranium ammunition in Vieques, but claimed 
> hat it had done so by mistake. The death of that 
> security guard last year was also a mistake. The 
> bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was also a 
> mistake. And the downing of an Iranian civilian 
> airliner in broad daylight on international airspace 
> over the Persian Gulf in 1988 was also a mistake. How 
> many more mistakes or "mistakes" will have to happen 
> before the U.S. government understands that its 
> military is not wanted in Vieques, not for one more 
> day? 
> And why is the military supervising this referendum? 
> In a democracy, the military is supposed to stay 
> awayfrom politics, especially electoral politics. 
> Would Americans tolerate the Pentagon intervening in 
> elections? 
> Why are Vieques residents the only ones allowed to 
> vote in this referendum? Isn't this a matter of 
> concern to all Puerto Ricans? Imagine if a foreign 
> power were to occupy Oregon and Americans in the other 
> 49 states were told to butt out and mind their own 
> business. Americans shouldn't have to tolerate 
> something like that for a second. 
> If an injustice were to take place in Alabama, for 
> example, it would be a matter of concern to all 
> Americans, not just to those living in that state. 
> Therefore, all Puerto Ricans should be able to vote on 
> the future of Vieques. 
> Why a vote at all? Did the Navy hold elections to 
> occupy Vieques? Did it even ask for permission when it 
> evicted thousands of its residents in the 1940's? Did 
> the U.S. hold elections when it invaded Puerto Rico 
> and its warships bombed San Juan in 1898? 
> The Clinton directive on Vieques has been described in 
> the media as a deal that the President made with 
> Puerto Rico governor Pedro Rosselló. It is not a deal. 
> It is an order of the President of the United States 
> to the governor of a colony with no voice or vote in 
> Washington. 
> There are some who call the protesters anti-American. 
> But the opponents of the Navy presence in Vieques are 
> no more anti-American than the 19th century 
> abolitionists or the 20th century civil rights 
> movement. 
> Americans living in the fifty states must make it 
> clear to president Clinton that he must do the right 
> thing as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and 
> order the Navy to end its training activities in 
> Vieques immediately and permanently, and clean up the 
> toxic mess it made there. If the Navy doesn't like it, 
> that's just too bad. In a democratic republic, the 
> civilians are in charge, not the military. At least 
> that's what we were all taught in school. 

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Blogger seo pool dijo...

Sand, surf, island mixed drinks and awesome laid back vibe. Come remain at the Lazy Hostel and benefit as much as possible from your trek to Vieques Puerto Rico. Here are possibilities for the shoreline, shoreline bum, spending plan, inn, lethargic jacks, surf and vieques.

3:14 a. m.  

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