[floridaleft] News from Vieques 12/9/00 (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Fri Dec 15 15:03:01 MST 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Committee for the Rescue and Develoment of Vieques
> P.O. Box 1424 Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765
> Tel. (787) 741-0716 Fax 741-0358 Email:
> bieke at coqui.net
> Report from the Peace and Justice Camp
> December 9, 2000
> Warm greetings from the Committee for the Rescue and
> Development of Vieques (CRDV) at the Peace and Justice
> Camp (PJC). In this post-election, pre-Christmas
> period, we offer a brief summary of recent actions
> taken by the CRDV, efforts by our community and
> individuals and solidarity groups related to the
> Vieques cause in Puerto Rico and abroad.
> After the elections of November 7, work has continued
> steadily. During November, several members of the CRDV
> travelled to the US, Europe and Asia, on missions to
> spread the word about the situation of our struggle.
> We participated in the International Conference on
> Military Contamination in San Diego, California, where
> Vieques was one of the main topics. We were present at
> the International Conference on Depleted Uranium
> Weapons in Manchester, England; a young woman from
> Vieques represented the CRDV at the civil disobedience
> acts in Fort Benning, Georgia, at the entrance to the
> School of the Americas; delegates from our committee
> travelled to Cuba and Okinawa to present the Vieques
> case before other international forums.
> Just before the elections, Americo Boshetti and his
> group COLINDANCIAS, offered a concert during the vigil
> on the 4th of November, here at the PJC. Americo and
> all the other musicians in solidarity with Vieques
> provide an inspiration that helps our community
> continue on this arduous struggle. THANKS, Americo,
> Roy, Tito, Zoraida, Noel, Danny, Tony Mapeyé and so
> many other dignified representatives of the musical
> class of this country that consistently say PRESENTE!
> here on the firing line.
> The CRDV is meeting to analize the implications of the
> elections and to delineate strategies within this new
> political context. We were very happy by the election
> by a super majority of Dámaso Serrano (PPD) for mayor
> in Vieques and Sila for Governor. Both are committed
> with the struggle of our people. However, our
> responsibility as a community organization is 1)
> maintain pressure against the Navy through protest and
> civil desobedience acts, continue with the process of
> international divulgation and education
> and organization in Vieques and 2) support the recent
> elected officials in their efforts vis a vis the Navy
> in Vieques, while pressuring them to be loyal to their
> commitment of working with the community organizations
> in the struggle. We can not rest, thinking that the
> politicians are going to solve the situation. THIS
> FROM VIEQUES. Obviously, is preferable to count with
> the support of those whose task is the defense of the
> rights of our community.
> The 3rd of November, two new resources for our
> struggle were presented. In San Juan, the new edition
> of the book, "La batalla de Vieques" (The battle of
> Vieques), of our comrade Arturo Meléndez, was
> presented. The same night in Vieques, the new
> documentary, Vieques ­ a full-length film, of the
> puertorican filmmaker, William Nemcik, was premièred.
> (Both resources can be ordered from the CRDV using our
> e-mail address.)
> The vigil of November 11 was dedicated to the memory
> of Angel Rodríguez Cristóbal, martyr of the Vieques
> struggle. Angel Rodríguez Cristóbal, from Ciales,
> Puerto Rico, and member of the Socialist League under
> the command of Comandante Juan Antonio Corretjer, was
> arrested during a civil desobedience act in Camp
> García on May 19, 1979. Around twenty other persons
> were arrested that day, including Ismal Guadalupe ­
> who was comdemned to six months in the federal prison
> of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - and Monsignor Antulio
> Parrilla (RIP). Angel was sent to the federal prison
> in Tallahassee, Florida, were he was brutally murdered
> in his cell on November 11, 1979. This past November
> 11, -and every year on that date ­ we pay tribute to
> Angel with a protest against the military presence and
> a special vigil at the PJC.
> On November 14, representatives of the Vieques
> community participated in the public hearings about
> the Land Use Plan that the Planning Board, with the
> Navy, would want to aprove before the change in
> government administration. The Planning Board and the
> Navy coordinate their efforts to allow the military
> continuos interference on such vital issues as
> socio-economic planning and how to support the Navy in
> their plan to "hand over" the land on the west part of
> the island without doing the necessary environmental
> restoration. With the help of the Technical and
> Professional Support Group for the Sustainable
> Development of Vieques, we were able to effectively
> participate in the hearings, leaving clear the
> people¹s demand for genuine community participation in
> the decision making about the future use of the lands
> to be rescued from the Navy.
> >From Texas arrived, in the middle of November, a
> delegation of Artists and Activist in Solidarity with
> Vieques, that stayed some days at the PJC Lodging. The
> comrade Lourdes Pérez (extraordinary singer) lead the
> team that included poets, flautist, chicano-texan
> activists and native leaders of that zone in the US.
> In addition to their participation at the vigil of
> November 25, the texans with Vieques recorded a series
> of interviews with fishermen, women, youth persons and
> leaders of the community organization in struggle.
> El Texas group was the most recent to use the
> facilities of the PJC lodgings. This multi-use
> structure was built during the past months with the
> objective of offering lodging to the solidarity groups
> that visit us from Isla Grande or abroad. Built under
> the direction of artesan, carpenter, singer-author and
> Guerrillero, Noel Hernández, the Lodging has been used
> for a great number of meetings, workshops, and to
> lodge dozens of people in the past three months that
> have come to participate in protest and civil
> desobedience acts.
> This past weekend, the Mountain Festival was
> celebrated in Aibonito and dedicated ­ as so many
> activities throughout Puerto Rico during this past
> year and a half ­ to the struggle of the Vieques
> people. Comrade Myrta Sanes (sister of deceased David
> Sanes), represented the PJC during the festival.
> Recent threats
> The Navy continues its public relations plan design to
> improve its image before the community and to
> discredit the argument against its present here.
> Through their spokespersons in the community ­ ex-PNP
> candidate for mayor, Juana Rivera Guishard and a pair
> of other pro-Navy fanatics ­ the military try to
> promote a student exchange between Vieques and the
> school at the Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba.
> Great indignation was produced among viequense
> teachers, who in great majority oppose the military
> presence, when Mrs. Rivera Guishard, High School
> teacher, took a group of viequense students to
> Roosevelt Roads two weeks ago so that the military
> could take pictures with them in a ceremony related to
> A generalized bad feeling exists now between teachers,
> students, parents and even school directors here
> because of the delivery of five used pianos by the
> Navy. The delivery of these pianos, without the
> authorization of the school directors, was coordinated
> by the Navy public relations official, with last name
> Negrón, the music teacher in Vieques, with last name
> Calderón, and a super pro-Navy teacher, with last name
> Rosa. However, it is worth to quote a recent press
> release from CRDV about this issue:
> Spokepersons of CRDV denounce as hypocritical and
> deceiving the "help" to the schools, that forms part
> of the Navy¹s public relations project to gain the
> sympathy of the people. "One day they are distributing
> pianos and next day they are shooting with bombs. We
> are tired of this wolf a charity dress. We denounce
> the position of the Governor, Pedro Rosselló and the
> Mayor of Vieques, Manuela Santiago, of approving the
> continous use of Vieques for the Navy exercises," said
> Nilda Medina, of the Peace and Justice Camp.
> The Navy continues, desperately, looking for a way to
> change the position of our community that rejects by
> absolute majority, that they continue their military
> maneuvers here. The Navy officers are so arrogant that
> they believe that with old pianos, trips to Roosevelt
> Roads, a pair of temporary jobs and with a lot of
> repression, they can erase sixty years of abuse and
> violations of the dignity of this Nation.
> To contradict the arguments and scientific information
> about the great dangers to the health that cause the
> military contamination, the Navy has solicited help
> from the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and
> Disease Registry (ATSDR). According to the testimony
> of persons that have suffered in their own flesh the
> machinations and deceptions of this federal agency, as
> was the case of the Ex-Residents of Ciudad Cristiana
> (Humacao, Puerto Rico) and the histories of the
> interventions of the ATSDR in communities in Puerto
> Rico and the United States, ATSDR carry out incomplete
> studies, manipulated and distorted and, in almost all
> cases, have exonerated the contaminating industry or
> agency of being the originator of the devastation of
> the health of the community.
> We already know what to expect of this agency in
> Vieques. The Rear Admiral Kevin Green has already
> announced publicly that the ATSDR will exonerate the
> Navy of being the cause of any health problem that can
> affict the Vieques community.
> And to try to divide the defenders of Vieques on Isla
> Grande from the fighters on Isla Nena, the federal
> district attorney¹s office invented a strategy that
> gives a privileged treatment to the viequenses with
> pending legal cases due to civil desobedience acts. We
> quote from a press release on this theme:
> Lawyers of the viequenses arrested for protest acts in
> the Navy¹s restricted zone in Vieques, informed to
> their clients about an offer to file the viequense
> cases while the desobedients from Isla Granfe and from
> abroad face the judicial processes with fines.
> "The Attorney¹s office and the Navy want to separate
> the viequenses from the rest of the Puerto Ricans. We
> are not going to allow that. We will not accept any
> special and different treatment that divide us from
> the Puerto Ricans of the Isla Grande. Vieques is
> Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is Vieques." So declared
> Ismael Guadalupe, spokeperson of the Committee for the
> Rescue and Development of Vieques, main community
> organization of the struggle for the desmilitarization
> of the Isla Nena.
> Unanimously, the Viequenses reaffirm their strong
> solidarity with the civil desobedients from the Isla
> Grande that have made sacrifices in defense of the
> cause of Vieques. Without exception, the arrested from
> Vieques indicated their rejection to the offer to be
> acquitted without the people from the Isla Grande
> receiving the same treatment.
> "When we entered the restricted zone on August 7 with
> the comrades of Isla Grande, we entered together. When
> we leave this, we will leave all together from the
> same door. We will not negotiate neither with the Navy
> nor with the Federal Court. If they want to file the
> cases, it must be the cases of all the Puerto Ricans ­
> from Isla Grande and the Puerto Ricans that live in
> Vieques," expressed Norma Torres, that convoked the
> entrance of 31 women from Vieques and the Isla Grande
> the past month of August.
> (FOTO) Part of the fifty viequense civil desobedients
> that met at the Peace and Justice Lodging to analyze
> and then reject the divisory offer of the federal
> attorney¹s office.
> Comrades. As you can see, we continue strong in the
> struggle, with a high sense of dignity and historic
> responsibility before this and the next generations.
> The people of Vieques do not surrender, do not give
> up, and we are not seated waiting a miracle from
> politicians from Puerto Rico or Washington. Our faith
> is deposited in our people ­ with our women, young
> persons, fishermen, teachers, grandparents, with our
> religious, community and labor leaders, with the good
> people in solidarity from the Isla Grande, in the
> United States and from many parts of the world. This
> struggle will be won in the sea, in the streets,
> against the military fence, in the courts, in the
> jails, and with the supreme sacrifice if needed. We
> hope that our elected officials ­ and in particular
> those whose campaigs supported the immediate and
> permanent cease of military activity here ­ also walk
> with us and take their direction from the people.
> The Navy has in calendar for the months of January to
> March a series of exercises here with a battle group
> from the aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise. We also
> have a calendar of exercises ­ the exercise of the
> defense of the dignity, the exercise of the historic
> role of the heroic people of giving example to the
> world of a struggle of courage and sacrifice in
> defense of the natural and inalienable right of living
> in peace.
> In struggle, in solidarity,
> Robert Rabin, CRDV

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