Latest News from Vieques

Jay Moore research at
Fri Jun 30 15:45:25 MDT 2000

I'm told that the "violent" incident described in the news report below was
actually a diversion of the cops in order to smuggle a large no. of other
people onto the base.  I'll forward the details, when they arrive.



5 Hurt in Vieques Protest

Story Filed: Friday, June 30, 2000 3:18 PM EDT
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Protesters threw rocks and bottles at U.S.
Navy security officers at the disputed training ground on Vieques Island
before being chased away by pepper gas, the Navy said Friday. Five people
were injured.

The reported attack around midnight Thursday could signal a more violent
trend in the 14-month movement to expel the Navy from its prime Atlantic
training ground on an outlying Puerto Rican island where 9,400 civilians

``This is an outrageous criminal act,'' Navy spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon told
The Associated Press. He said five Navy personnel suffered cuts and bruises
and were treated on the spot.

Protest leaders on the island said they knew nothing about such an incident.

Exercises on Vieques stopped in April 1999 after stray bombs killed a
civilian security guard, sparking protests laced with anti-American
sentiment. In January, President Clinton and Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello
agreed bombing could resume -- but with non-explosive ordnance. Clinton
agreed to a referendum -- probably next year -- in which Vieques residents
would decide whether to evict the Navy by 2003 or allow it to stay and
resume live bombings.

Four days of exercises this week -- in which the Navy lobbed hundreds of
inert bombs and shells onto the range -- were the largest since the
accident. Scores of protesters responded by invading the Navy area, crawling
under its border fence. They were detained, cited for trespassing and
released, causing some minor delays in the exercises.

The Navy said four other officers were injured in other protest incidents
during the exercises.

In all, the Navy said 183 protesters were arrested for breaking onto the
training ground this week. Most were from the Puerto Rico Independence
Party, which announced Friday its members would refuse on principle to pay
the $1,000 fines -- challenging authorities to track them down and make

On Thursday night, according to Gordon, some 40 to 50 protesters cut a hole
in the fence of the training ground and entered it.

Confronted by Navy officers, ``the demonstrators began throwing rocks and
bottles,'' Gordon said. Gordon described the officers as a ``significant
force (that) had shields and arms but did not draw their weapons so as not
to escalate the conflict.'' The windshields of two U.S. government vehicles
also were smashed, Gordon said.

Gordon said the officers then fired pepper gas and the protesters fled.

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