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Vieques Bombing Petition

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  • Vieques Bombing Petition

    To whom it may concern:

    December 3, 1999 - President Clinton makes his decision. These are the elements of the plan:

    (A) Training on Vieques will be limited to inert weapons unless and until a resumption of live fire training is agreed to by the people of Vieques and the Navy.

    (B) Training will be reduced from the 180 days per year presently used to 90 days per year.

    (C) Within five years of the resumption of training on Vieques, the Navy will develop an alternative to that training and all training on the island will terminate unless otherwise agreed to by the people of Vieques and the Navy.

    (D) A resumption of training will be accompanied by a $40 million community development and economic adjustment program that recognizes and offsets the burdens that the training imposes on the people of Vieques.

    In addition, as stated by the Department of Defense:
    "Further, we have decided that it is best for the Navy and the Marine Corps to defer resumption of training at Vieques until next spring, when the Vieques Range will be required for the George Washington Battle Group and the Kearsarge (sic) [Siapan] Amphibious Ready Group. In the intervening period, we anticipate that discussions about the recommended plan will take place in Puerto Rico."

    December 3, 1999 - In a show of unity, Puerto Rico's government, opposition and chief religious leaders rejected the Clinton administration's offer Friday to phase out military training operations on the island of Vieques over five years. Gov. Pedro Rossello said a message he received Friday from President Clinton with the offer "is unacceptable for the people of Puerto Rico and the people of Vieques."

    Do you disagree with the bomb testings in Vieques? If you do, please email me with your first and last name at my email address:

    You can view the petition here:

    Please, I need your help. Together, we can make a difference! Let's help out Vieques by signing this petition. Send me your name if you want to help put a stop to the bomb testings. Thank you for your suppport!

    Vieques, estoy contigo también!

    Erica Ripley
    webmaster of "Ricky Martin: A Legend in the Making."

  • #2
    Mas Acerca de la Situacion en Vieques...

    Published Sunday, December 12, 1999, in the Miami Herald

    Navy bombs caused cancer, islanders say

    Vieques residents blame firing range


    VIEQUES, Puerto Rico -- From his home on a tiny hillside neighborhood dubbed ``Cancer Heights''
    because the disease has struck so many of its homes, Fernando Robinson recalled the neighbors killed
    by cancer.

    ``The two old sisters down there, the man next to them, my stepfather up there,'' the 43-year-old
    fisherman said as he swept a sun-bronzed arm around the 40 or so homes in the neighborhood
    officially named Lujan.

    Robinson then pointed a block away, to the gates of a U.S. Navy firing range closed since two stray
    bombs from an F-18 jet fighter killed a civilian guard in April. ``And that's where it comes from,'' he
    said with a grim nod.

    Even as the Navy pushes to resume limited bombing, mounting allegations that toxic residues from
    the explosives are causing cancer among residents of the tiny island of Vieques may eventually force
    the range's total closure.

    About 65 Vieques cancer patients and property owners filed a $109 million suit against the Navy just
    last week, charging they had been ``exposed to toxic and hazardous substances by the naval and aerial

    The cancer rate on Vieques has been reported to be 26 percent higher than that of Puerto Rico as a
    whole. Doctors say islanders also suffer from high rates of birth defects, skin diseases, asthma and
    other respiratory diseases.

    ``In such a small island, with one single factory, the only explanation for these horrible things is the
    range,'' said Dr. Rafael Rivera Castaño, a Tulane-educated Vieques epidemiologist who wants the Navy
    to leave the island.

    The Navy flatly rejects the charge. ``We can't prove a negative, but there's no evidence at all linking
    our activities to any of this,'' Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Karen Jeffries said.
    A Navy offer to use `dummy' bombs and pay $40 million is turned down

    For 58 years, the Navy has pounded the live-fire range on the eastern third of Vieques, the
    33,000-acre ``baby island'' eight miles east of Puerto Rico, with airplane bombs, ships' cannon and
    Marine artillery.

    The Navy also owns the western third of Vieques, storing munitions in bunkers dug into its hills. About
    9,300 civilians live in the middle third of the island. Vieques is 21 miles long and four miles at its
    widest point.

    Navy officials, seeking a compromise to reopen a bombing range the Navy has called critical to its
    war readiness, offered on Dec. 4 to drop only inert ``dummy bombs and pay $40 million if they could
    use the range for five more years.

    But Puerto Rican officials and Vieques residents rejected the deal, complaining that the Navy
    bombings have blocked economic development on the island, which has miles of stunning white-sand
    beaches yet only one luxury hotel and a poverty rate one-third higher than Puerto Rico's.


    Hard data on the bombings' impact on the health of residents is more difficult to come by, since
    neither Puerto Rico's Health Department nor the Navy has regularly monitored air, water or soil
    quality on Vieques.

    It is a failure that critics say shows Puerto Rican government negligence and the Navy's autocratic
    behavior in a U.S. Commonwealth captured by U.S. troops during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    ``The Navy . . . inspected restaurants and brothels to protect their own, but never inspected the air or
    the water to protect others,'' said Gordon Rumore, 57, an environmental health specialist with the
    Pennsylvania Department of Health who retired to Vieques last year.

    Rumore triggered the first serious investigation of the controversy when he filed a complaint this year
    with the Atlanta-based U.S. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.

    ``I was swimming one day in February when the Navy was bombing, and I noticed the clouds of earth
    [sent up by the explosions] were drifting right into civilian areas,'' Rumore said.

    ``I looked up the explosives on the federal registry of toxic substances, and they were all there,'' he
    added. ``Just imagine, 50 years of accumulated heavy metals, stirred up every time another bomb


    Islanders contend that over the decades, the bombs and shells from ships' cannon have literally
    flattened entire hills on the range and polluted the air, water and soil with toxic residues from the
    explosives and metal casings.

    Chromium, a metal used in munitions, and RDX, one of the most common military explosives, have
    each been branded a ``possible human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
    toxics department.

    ``It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that this stuff ain't good for you, said Ron Jones, a Florida
    International University professor who studies heavy-metal pollution.

    Prevailing winds on Vieques blow from east to west -- from the range to residential areas. And the area
    most directly on the path of the clouds sent up by the Navy bombs is Lujan, the hillside neighborhood
    known as Cancer Heights.

    ``I know my cancer came from the range, said Edwin Menendez, a Lujan resident now 20 years old
    and healthy after undergoing eight rounds of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for testicular and
    lung cancer.

    Edwin's sisters Alejandra, 5, and Esperanza, 2, suffer from asthma, and his mother, Yolanda, found a
    lump on her right breast two weeks ago. She's waiting for an appointment for a checkup on the Puerto
    Rican mainland.
    A U.S. agency agrees to look for toxic residues from the Navy's bombings

    Investigators of the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry were in Vieques last month and
    officially accepted Rumore's complaint, in effect agreeing to study whether the prevailing winds are
    driving toxic residues from the bombings into residential areas.

    The agency is now gathering any available data on air, soil and water quality on Vieques and will later
    ask the EPA and the Puerto Rican government's Environmental Protection Board to fill in whatever
    gaps it finds.

    Rear Adm. Andrew A. Granuzzo, the Navy's top environmental officer, told Congress in July that the
    military would cooperate with the U.S. toxic substance agency ``even though there is no reason to
    believe that Navy actions are involved'' in the allegedly high incidence of cancer on Vieques.

    But the Navy has not been very cooperative in the past.

    When Puerto Rico's Environmental Protection Board tried to send 12 inspectors to take water
    samples at the range in August, Navy officials rejected one team member, a private consultant on
    munitions, saying he was gathering evidence for a possible lawsuit. The visit was canceled.


    The Navy only recently confirmed that it had used napalm bombs and accidentally fired 267 cannon
    rounds tipped with depleted uranium on the range. The latter is banned from any use on U.S. soil by
    federal regulations.

    Navy officials said ground-water samples they tested in August were found to be free of residues from
    explosives, but they declined to make the full study public, citing the possibility of a lawsuit.

    Wednesday's class-action lawsuit was filed on the same day that two University of Georgia marine
    biologists reported finding large numbers of live or leaky bombs on the ocean floor off the Navy
    range, as well as two wrecked ships carrying 1,000 to 1,300 drums containing unidentified chemicals.

    Officials of the Environmental Protection Board said the Navy last applied for a water quality
    certificate, required to carry out bombings on Vieques, in 1989. The agency made a clerical error and
    never processed the application, officials added, but the Navy never filed another request after that.

    Adding to the health concerns, the Pentagon is building a powerful new radar on Vieques, 1,500 feet
    from a civilian neighborhood. It is designed to monitor drug-smuggling airplanes as far away as Peru.


    The radar was originally to be built on the ``big island'' of Puerto Rico, but area residents who
    complained that its powerful electromagnetic waves could endanger their health forced the shift to

    ``The military is environmentally bad in every place, but on Vieques the regulations are simply not
    enforced. It writes its own ticket,'' said Sarah Peisch, director of the independent Environmental
    Action Center.

    At the heart of the controversy over the incidence of diseases in Vieques is a 1992 cancer survey by
    the Puerto Rican Department of Health, based on data collected since 1960.

    The study showed that the rate of cancer in Vieques was lower than the overall rate for Puerto Rico
    throughout the 1960s, but began rising in the 1970s and surpassed the U.S. Commonwealth's rate in
    the early 1980s.

    Rivera Castaño, the Vieques epidemiologist, noted that the Navy stepped up its bombardments on
    Vieques in 1971, after protesters forced the Navy to stop using another range on the nearby islet of
    Culebra. The Navy abandoned Culebra in 1975.


    Navy Vice Adm. Robert J. Natter, in a column published by the newspaper San Juan Star last month,
    pointed out that the study also showed that Vieques' cancer rate had dropped below that of Puerto
    Rico as a whole between 1989 and 1992.

    Rivera Castaño replied that was because the Department of Health was forced to close its Cancer
    Registry, which used to backtrack through old medical records for misreported cases, for budgetary
    reasons in 1992.

    Vieques cancer victims must go to ``big island'' hospitals for treatment, and their cases are sometimes
    misreported as originating in the municipalities where they are treated, the epidemiologist said.

    Whatever the truth of the allegations about high levels of cancer on Vieques, island residents have
    grown so apprehensive that they now blame the bombing range for almost any of their ailments.

    Fisherman Fernando Robinson blames ``something evil over there'' for a yearlong throat
    inflammation he suffered three years ago, when he was setting his fish and crab traps in the waters off
    the bombing range.

    Robinson acknowledged that he could not recall any strange odor in the air or noticeable pollution in
    the waters. ``But it was there. I knew there was something bad there,'' he insisted.

    ``Two other fishermen working in that area became thin as rails, so finally I just abandoned all my
    traps,'' he said. ``I never even went back to get them. And I haven't had anything wrong since then.''

    Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre.


    • #3

      Maybe you know allot more than anyone else about Cancer prevention and about the Environment (did you ever take a College course in Chemistry, or Biology?). But, if I am not mistaken, Cancer, unless it is caused by certain Chemicals and Radioactive materials cannot be prevented [except in cases such as lung cancer and digestive tract cancers, where behavior modification goes a long way in preventing them]. So, if there are large amounts of Chemicals in the Vieques water supply, or there are lots of Chemical and Radioactive agents in the soils of Vieques, how is the getting out of the Navy going to reduce the cancer rates???

      If it can be shown that the Navy has polluted Vieques to the extent of making it a Cancer causing place, I tell you that the only viable solution would be to remove all the residents of Vieques out of the island, since a clean-up on the scale of Vieques [remember, all the resident live now in 30% of that island] would involve literaly to remove the entire island down to a few hundred feet under sea level, and building it back up again. Now, Ines, I don't know if you know anything about the geography of Vieques, but that would be the biggest civil engineering effort of all time.

      Maybe what you really want is Vieques to be vacated by the Navy Gringos and to convert it into a Communist Guerrila Warfare Training Camp. Osama Bin-Latten would love this specially. What do you say your work was?

      desde_el_Jurutungo_de_Bairoa: Manuel Alonso "El Jíbaro"


      • #4


        • #5
          A el que se llama a sí mismo El Boricua:

          ¿En qué puntos se ha equivocado El Criollo? Me imagino que tu sabes mas que El Criollo acerca del cancer y sus causas para ponerte a burlarte de él. Mi imagino que tu también eres un experto en ingeniería ambiental como para tener una mejor solución a la alegada contaminación de la Isla Nena.

          Pero si tanto sabes, deberías refutar con argumentos sólidos a tu oponente y no a atacarlo a él personalmente, ni burlarte de él.

          Sin embargo, es posible que a falta de conocimientos con qué refutar a El Criollo te pones a burlarte de lo que no conoces. Tus errores de ortografía al escribir en español delatan tu nivel de educación.

          Boricua (como nosotros los puertorriqueños nos llamamos) es un gentilicio noble, que merece la mayor honra y respeto.

          La Patria no se hace a base de fanatismo ciego, ni a base de ignorancia, sino a base de trabajo duro, de palabra de sabiduría, y de carácter recto.

          Manuel Alonso


          • #6
            I know **** about cancer and the contamination on the island of vieques I just know that we must defend our country, our culture, our people. So stop saying stupid things about each other and start fighting for our rights. The americans have the great Canon let them go there to practice or to Hawaii and leave us alone. We must be together in this so we can win. No more abuse of these Gringos any way they just one us so we could go fight for them just the same way they did when they gave us our citizenship back in the 40's. Be true Boricuas and stand up and fight for your true Nation.

            Yours truly,