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    May 15, 2001
    Copyright © 2001 The Washington Post Company. All Rights Reserved.

    The U.S. Navy claims the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques is the only place where its Atlantic fleet can hold simultaneous land, air, and sea exercises using live bombs. Thousands of Viequenses believe their land and livelihoods are being poisoned and destroyed as a result, and opposition to the Navy's presence has grown significantly stronger. In recent weeks, another bombing mission has prompted more demonstrations and a spate of high-profile arrests.

    Here, a story told mostly in numbers.

    Number of years Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory: 101

    Number of years the U.S. Navy has used the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a practice bombing-range: 60

    Percent of all bombs dropped by U.S. in military practice that land in Vieques, according to local residents: 90

    Percent of Vieques land controlled by U.S. Navy: 70 (about 22,000 of 33,000 acres; Vieques is twice the size of Manhattan)

    Population of Vieques: 9300

    Population of Kahoolawe, Hawaii, practice bombing-range used by U.S. Navy until 1994: 0

    Percentage of Viequenses who live below the poverty line: 72

    Number of people from Vieques employed by the U.S. Navy: 30

    Number of tourists who visit Vieques per year: 4000

    Locations of conflicts that U.S. troops have trained for in Vieques: Cuba, Santo Domingo, Chile, Grenada, Vietnam, Iraq, and Kosovo

    Pounds of live explosives, including napalm, dropped on Vieques in November 1994, when troops were preparing for war in Yugoslavia: 20,000

    Number of radioactive depleted uranium shells (which are believed to contribute to development of cancer and leukemia, among other illnesses) that the U.S Navy admitted firing on Vieques in 1998: 273

    Number of depleted uranium shells the Navy said were "accidentally" fired on Vieques in February 1999: 263

    Number retrieved: 56

    Estimated number of unexploded bombs in Vieques, according to local residents: "thousands and thousands"

    Average number of days per year the Navy bombed Vieques before President Clinton's January 2000 decree that said the Navy would only use inert (nonexploding) bombs until 2003: 260

    Average number of days the U.S fires nonexploding bombs (which are extremely noisy and stir up contaminated soil) on Vieques per year now: 90

    Number of people who marched in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to protest the decree: 150,000

    Number of "dummy" bombs fired from sea to land from April 27 to May 1, 2001, according to the commissioner of Vieques: 352

    Number of missiles from air to land, during the same period: 168

    Estimated number of protesters, including Vieques mayor Damaso Serrano, who were in the target range while Navy dropped bombs: 40 to 50

    Number of fishing traps lost in those four days as a result of bombing: 600-700

    Estimated loss of fishermen's income and property: $360,000

    Estimated number of local fishermen affected: 52

    Estimated amount paid by NATO allies to lease Vieques from the U.S. for target practice: $80 million per year

    Amount offered Puerto Rico by President Clinton in January 2000 to continue the bombing for three more years: $40 million

    Percentage above legal levels of environmental pollutants that the U.S. Navy has admitted to discharging: arsenic, 6.6; lead, 105; cadmium, 240

    Diseases found to have higher rates in Vieques than on Puerto Rico's mainland: cancer, scleroderma, lupus, thyroid deficiencies, asthma

    Odds that Viequenses will develop cancer as compared to other Puerto Ricans: 27 percent higher

    Number of hospitals on Vieques: 0

    Travel time to nearest hospital: one and a half hours by ferry

    Number of hotels: 25

    Number of civil disobedience camps that sprang up inside the target range after civilian David Sanes was killed by two 500-pound live bombs that missed their mark: 14

    Number of months it took U.S. marshals to shut down the camps: 12

    Total number of arrests since the bombing began: 1111

    Number of arrests in the last two years, since the death of David Sanes: 500

    Recent high-profile arrests: Reverend Al Sharpton, actor Edward James Olmos, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., New York labor leader Dennis Rivera, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-ILL), Vieques mayor Serrano

    Approximate cost of the one-page ad in The New York Times calling for an end to the bombing (signed by actor Benicio del Toro, singers Ricky Martin, José Feliciano, and Marc Anthony, baseball player Roberto Alomar, and other celebrities): $113,274

    Number of Puerto Rican activists who climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest in November 2000: 11

    Population of Puerto Ricans in NYC in 1990: 897,000

    Members of Congress from New York City who were among the 110 who signed a letter in March 2001 urging President Bush to permanently end the bombing in Vieques: José Serrano, Nydia Velázquez, Charles Rangel, Ed Towns, Major Owens, Elliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Anthony D. Weiner, Gregory Meeks, Carolyn McCarthy, Joseph Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Schumer, and Hillary Clinton

    Options voters in Vieques will be given in a referendum on the bombing this November: allow the U.S. Navy to resume the use of exploding bombs, for which the people of Vieques will receive $50 million in aid; or permit the Navy to use nonexploding bombs until 2003, after which it will leave the island

    Option not available on the referendum: immediate cessation of all bombing

    For more information, go to

    May 19, 2001
    Copyright © 2001 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc. All rights reserved.
    Source: World Reporter (TM)

    San Juan, May 18 (EFE).- The 35,400 square meters (8.74 acres) in western Vieques that the U.S. Navy returned to Puerto Rican authorities on May 1, in compensation for the bombing exercises it conducted on the island for 60 years, contain 17 toxic waste sites, according to the San Juan daily El Nuevo Dia.

    Vieques Commissioner Juan R. Fernandez said that 13 of the 17 toxic dumps are located in the 17,700 square meters (4.37 acres), which the United States turned over to the municipality of Vieques , the daily reported.

    The other 17,700 square meters (4.37 acres), where the other four toxic waste sites are located, were turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The municipality of Vieques plans to establish eco-tourism routes and "low-density" residences on some of the recently returned land, he added.

    Fernandez said that the U.S. Navy has already initiated the clean-up process and has closed-off the toxic waste sites to prevent people from entering the dumps.}

    What I think about this is what if all this Vieques campotion never happened, how many years would of this have been passed. The Navy is cleaning it up now, but how many years did it take for these TOXIC wastes to accumilate and the Navy never said anyththing until it was to be eventually discovered once the lands are transferred.

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  • #2
    The Navy?

    Thanks for all the very informative information!
    Keep up the good work my friend!

    Just one thing though, why is it that the United States NAVY is constantly portrayed as a predominantly unsupervised branch of the US government when it comes to its relation to Puerto Rico? Nowhere else in the world is the United States navy perceived or even remotely referred to in this peculiar way. So why do Puerto Rican journalists and politicians prefer to describe as virtually being governmentally unregulated or under-regulated when it misbehaves toward the island?

    Isn't this simply one more example of a colonially induced brainwashed reaction which is subconsciously designed to avoid the psychological pain of having to admit that the United States itself is approving of EVERY SINGLE ACTION taken by the US Navy toward Vieques?

    Isn't it rather ridiculous to keep referring to the United States Navy as if it were some totally independent branch of the United States government instead of seeing it for what it really is--an instrument which obediently carries out United States colonial policies as outlined by the United States Congress and Senate?

    Such a stubborn refusal to face reality can only result in counterproductive consequences.
    The fact is that this unusual display of naivete drastically reduces the effectiveness in convincing others concerning the seriousness of your cause. After all, how can Puerto Ricans be viewed as understanding their political situation when Puerto Ricans prefer to view the United States Navy in such a ridiculously unrealistic way?