Postings Archive Folder 5

28 August to 8 December, 2000



Vieques, Puerto Rico. Today, August 28, 2000, a group of graphic artists and actors entered the restricted zone of the US Navy on Vieques. The artists performed a theatrical-pictoral play titled: I BELIEVE IN VIEQUES. They proclaimed the fundamental importance of the landscape, which for sixty years the US Navy has been destroying with their war practices. This distruction has caused grave damages, not only to the landscape but also to the mental, physical and spiritual health of the people of Vieques.

The artists painted a spectacular human mural in which they portrayed the landscape of the Isla Nena (Baby Island-Vieques) that proclaimed, "from the esthetic point of view the landscape has been, and will be a vital source of inspiration of artistic creation." The artists and actors formed two groups: one that entered the restricted area in a civil disobedience act, and another group providing support on the outside. The support group, besides presenting a mural similar to the Vieques landscape, showed another mural that was an adaptaption of the world famous painting by Picaso, GUERNICA, to dramatize the serious situation of the Navy presence on Vieques.

The artists that fooled the military security and entered the restricted zone this morning at dawn were: Rafael Trelles, Luis Alonso, Paloma Todd, Marta Pérez García, Elías Adasme and Gustavo Castrodad; and the actors Carlos Esteban Fonseca, Cristina Soler and Antonio Sotomayor. The support group was composed of the actors and actresses Magaly Carrasquillo, Georgina Borri, Maritza Pérez Otero, Rosabel Otón, Teresa Hernández, Puchi Platón, Ineabelle Colón, Yamil Collazo, Vilma Martínez, Pepín Lugo and Carlo D?Atili; painter Taí Fernández, producer Pedro Muñiz and communications expert Zaida Castro Meaux. Also Myrna Pagán and Juan Silva, Viequense artists, joined the group.

From the main island, master artists Rafael Tufiño, Antonio Martorell, Antonio Maldonado, Augusto Marín, Lorenzo Homar, Myrna Báez and Luis Hernández Cruz, among others, expressed their solidarity with the artists' proclamation.

The artists had the logistic support of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques and Peace and Justice Camp of Vieques. The Viequenses recognized the importante of this action in support of Peace for Vieques and the demands for demilitarization, decontamination, return of the lands and sustainable economic development of a Free Vieques.

This act in support of the struggle of the people of Vieques and their right to peace, health and their esthetic well being, took place the day the Navy announced the resumption of military exercises.

Contacts: Maritza Perez Otero y Zaida Castro Meaux 741-0716, 741-0358

4 September, 2000

Press Release of the Vieques Organizing Committee of the 1st of October National Front

March and Demonstration in Support of Civil Disobedience

The Puerto Rican community of Vieques, through its organizations, convokes all Puerto Ricans to join in a massive mobilization in support of peacefull civil disobedience here. The related actions will take place principally on Vieques on the 1st of October, with a huge march and demonstration of unity in support of the campaign of peacefull civil disobedience that we have conducted successfully for more than a year. Simultaneously, important civil disobedience actions will take place in Vieques and on the main island of Puerto Rico. The march-demo will begin at 11AM on the first, leaving Barrio Esperanza, on the South coast of Vieques, moving in several directions.

This project brings together an ample unitary front, representing the diverse Viequense organizations that have sustained the struggle of our people to get the US Navy out of Vieques. Among these groups are Yayi Key Collective, Mount David, Mount Carmelo, Peace and Justice Camp, Vieques Women´s Alliance, Vieques Youth United, Horsemen for Peace, Mapepe Camp, Popular Democratic Party (Vieques), PR Independence Party (Vieques), Catholic and Methodist churches of Vieques, Vieques South Coast Fishermen´s Asoc., Vieques North Coast Fishermen´s Asoc., Vieques Merchants, The Voice of Vieques Newspaper, Lula Tirado Camp, Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, and others that will join the march. The wide array of Viequense organizations and the massive participation in the march will counteract the Navy lies ? and those of its few supporters ? that we the Viequenses are not the protagonists of our struggle. After the first of October it will be clearly confirmed that the Viequense people are in the first line of the battle to end the genocidal presence of the US Navy on our island.

At the same time, we support the National Day in Solidarity with the People of Vieques to be held in Washington, DC on the 22nd of September in front of the White House, beginning at midday. This event will constitute a powerful example of how our struggle and demands go beyond the borders of Puerto Rico.

The mobilization for the October 1st activity will be organized by brigades, each one with the name of a Viequense killed as a result of many years of the criminal military presence on our island. The brigades will begin to move on the 27th of September and will carry out diverse activities, product of the creativity of this struggle. The actions previous to the first of October are designed to reinforce and amplify the impact of the great march and demonstration, in which more than a thousand Viequenses and an equal number of Puerto Ricans from the main island will participate.

The brothers and sisters moving to Vieques on the 27th will be received in Vieques and moved to a series of camps set up for this action. At 8:00 in the morning on 1 October, a shining national fleet composed of dozens of boats with Puerto Rican and Vieques flags will leave the East coast of Puerto Rico. The fleet will transport hundreds of people to the town of Esperanza on the South coast of Vieques, who will join thousands of peace brigade members to begin the actions.

This great march and demonstration on October 1, 2000, will go down in the history of our people, together with the 4th of May, as one of the events that marked the history of our liberation from the Navy. Join this great offesive for Peace. Vieques will be free. !US Navy out of Vieques!

Contact: Nilda Medina Díaz, CRDV 787 741-0716

Robert L. Rabin Siegal
Comité Pro Rescate y Desarrollo de Vieques
Apartado 1424 Vieques, PR 00765
(787) 741-0716 cel. 375-0525

Report from the trenches         13 de septiembre de 2000

Peace and Justice Camp, at the entrance to the Navy base in Vieques, Camp García

The Vieques struggle has entered a critical period with the elections, hurricane season, a strong offensive by the Special Operations South unit of the Southern Command (specialists in Psychological Warfare and Public Opinion manipulation) and preparations for military maneuvers in October.

The people and the grassroots organizations in particular, the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV) use the popular creativity and our spirit of struggle to deal with the challenges of this moment to maintain the offesive that the Puerto Rican community has kept up against the military presence here.

On August 25th, we received here at Peace and Justice Camp (PJC), Ruben Berríos, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. We received him warmly and with great respect for his valuable contribution to the struggle during the entire year spent a the camp he set up in the bombing area. We shared our concerns and aspirations for a Free Vieques with the gubernatorial candidate.

During the same week the Claridad (newspaper) Festival was held, this year dedicated to the struggle for Peace on Vieques. Representatives from the community organizations of Vieques participated in the Vieques Women´s Alliance, churches, CRDV and the civil disobedience camps were recognized for their great efforts that kept the Navy from bombing during the entire year.

On the 27th of August, the group "Artists for Peace" under the direction of Puerto Rican painter, Rafi Trelles, entered into the Navy´s restricted zone in defense of Vieques' landscape. They were arrested while other artists participated in a special theatrical protest at the PJC, at the entrance to the navy base. We are deeply greatful for this action of valor and great sensibility toward the Island of Vieques, our people, for Puerto Rico and for peace in the world.

Members of the grass roots organizations here participate in a constant stream of presentations and conferences on radio, TV, on the main island of Puerto Rico and elsewhere. In the coming weeks we continue this proces as our people travel to Michigan, New York, San Diego, Philadelphia, England and Okinawa and to many points of the Puerto Rican archipelago.

We work with Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón in the planning of an International Tribunal on Human Rights in Puerto Rico and Vieques to be held in Vieques in November. Also with the help of Nieves Falcón, we began last week a series of visits to Vieques by ex PR political prisioners. Luis Rosa conversed with members of the PJC and with students in our schools last week. We will soon receive sisters Lucy and Alicia Rodríguez.

Legal work by the Robert Kennedy, Jr. team continues. A motion will soon be announced to block military maneuvers scheduled for October.

Last week we also received an international delegation of union leaders participating in an electrical workers union (UTIER) congress in Puerto Rico. Delegates from France, Perú, Cuba, Spain spoke here with Dr. Rafael Rivera Castaño (CRDV) about the extremely high cancer rate and military contamination. They also visited the PJC where they met with Nilda Medina and other member of the Camp.

The CRDV works actively on the prepations for the October 1st actions. We also work with several organizations here and on the main island planning actions designed to block maneuvers during the rest of October.

Last Saturday, during the vigil celebrated every week for a year and a half at Camp Peace and Justice, we presented on a big screen the new documentary of the 4 May arrests prepared by Johana Bermúdez. The Vieques music group (plena), Vieques Libre, kept us in high spirits during the militant piquetting in front of the Navy base entrance.

On 6 September, Flavio Cumpiano, Esq., CRDV representative in Washington, D.C., was named "Colegiado del Año" (member of the year) by the PR Bar Association, in honor of his great efforts for Peace in Vieques. This was the first time a lawyer practicing outside of PR was given the distinction. Flavio has organized an impressive list of pro Vieques actions in the Federal Capital and works constantly organizing, investigating and spreading the word on the Vieques issue. CONGRATULATIONS, FLAVIO!

Legal proceses continue against participants in actions of civil disobedience. We must be alert, in solidarity and ready to act in support of these compañeros-as. We also send a strong embrace of solidarity to the PIP members in federal prison for their pro Vieques actions.

International Tribunal Condemns Navy Violations of Human Rights in Vieques

Robert Rabin, Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques

The Government of the United States of North America,

The Tribunal helped denounce internationally the violations of the most basic human rights, violations that result from the colonial situation of Puerto Rico, the repression against those who fight for Independence and the presence of the US Navy on Vieques. Holding the Tribunal in Vieques helped focus attention on the problem of militarization. The participation of judges from Asia, Africa, America and Europe contributed to the international dissemination of information about the Vieques case.

Dr. Denis Brutus, National Poet of South Africa and ex political prisoner with Nelson Mandela under the Apartheid regime, presided over the panel of judges that included distinguished defenders of human rights from Germany, East Timor, Canada, Spain, United States and Puerto Rico. Monsignor Walter F. Sullivan, Catholic Bishop of Richmond, Virginia and national president of Pax Christi in the US (pacifist organ of the Catholic Church) and Dr. Rainer Huhle, founding member of the Latin American Human Rights Documentation and Information Center and the Center for Human Rights of Nuremberg, Germany were also on the panel. The attorneys for the people included outstanding Puerto Rican lawyers, well known for their work in favor of self determination and for their solidarity work toward the demilitarization of Vieques. Lawyers Fermin Arraiza, Jr., José Juan Nazario and Pedro Varela, represented the interests of Puerto Rico and Vieques during the proceedings that included the participation of recognized political, religious, feminist and cultural leaders from all parts of the Puerto Rican archipelago and from the diaspora.

Several informal activities allowed the judges and other members of the Tribunal to converse with people from the community and learn about our music, culture and history. The first night in Vieques the judges and lawyers met with a large group of representatives from diverse sectors of the population to speak informally and dance to the music of the Rubén Bonano Trio. Saturday night, approximately fifty participants in the Tribunal joined hundreds of Viequenses in the vigil celebrated each Saturday night at the Peace and Justice Resistance Camp, in front of the gates to the bombing range at Camp García. Sunday evening the judges and their advisors worked while other Tribunal participants shared with members of the community during a cultural presentation by the Vieques plena group, Vieques Libre (Free Vieques). During the weekend people visited the bioluminescent bay and places of archaeological and historic interest on Vieques

The first day of deliberations were dedicated to Self Determination, US Control Over the Local Economy, Militarization, Political Repression, Displacement of the Population, Protest and Cultural Expression. Among the participants were lawyers Juan Mari Bras and Noel Colón Martínez, Dr. Margarita Mergal, Fernando Martin in representation of Ruben Berrios, representatives of Bishop Juan Vera of the Methodist Church and Monsignor Corrada del Río of the Catholic Church. Testimonies were also presented by high officials of the United Church of Christ of the US.

Several ex political prisoners of Puerto Rico participating in the Tribunal, stayed with Vieques families and had an opportunity to get first hand information about the difficulties caused by the military presence. Presentations by sisters Lucy and Alicia Rodríguez and Elizam Escobar received great applause from the community. Ex political prisoners Dylcia Pagán, Carmen Valentín, Edwin Cortés, Luis Rosa, acted as observers during the Tribunal. Puerto Rican freedom figher and heroin, Lolita Lebron, received a standing ovation after presenting testimony on political repression in Puerto Rico throughout this century.

On Sunday, representatives of diverse sectors of Vieques community - women, fishermen, religious figures and activists - offered testimonies about the terrible consequences of the military presence. Mayor elect, Damaso Serrano, opened the session on Vieques with a fraternal greeting and a message of gratitude to the members of the Tribunal. Cristina Garay and Myriam Sobá, of the Methodist Church and the Vieques Women?s Alliance, respectively, described the abuses committed by Navy personnel against Viequense women in the 1950´s and 1960´s. Carlos Zenón and his son Yabureibo, talked about the historic and heroic struggle of the fishermen while community organizer, Ismael Guadalupe (CRDV) touched the theme of military and police repression against the local struggle. Vieques fisherman, Carlos "Prieto" Ventura, brought evidence of the military destruction of the marine environment. Ex mayor, Radamés Tirado (PNP 1976-1980) described Navy intervention in the local political arena to promote candidates that favor the military presence on Vieques.

Environmental scientists, Jorge Fernández Porto and Lirio Márques, described in detail the destruction and contamination with heavy metals, uranium and other harmful chemicals componentes as a result of more than half a century of bombing and other military activities on the Eastern part of Vieques. Dr. Rafael Rivera Castaño (CRDV) and Dr. Cruz María Nazario (School of Public Health-UPR) provided extensive evidence about the effects of military contamination on the health and well being of the Vieques population. Robert Rabin, (CRDV) Director of the Vieques Historic Archives, presented a brief testimony in which he accused the Navy of practicing cultural genocide through the destruction of archaeological resources and historical sites located inside the military area.

The judges verdict recognized "the inalienable right of the people of Vieques to life, a healthy environment, social and economic development, rights that have been consistently threatened by the presence and activities of the US Navy. This situation results from the attempt by the US Government and the US Navy to destroy the population of this island, partially or totally, a policy that has resulted in death and serious physical and mental damages."

The Tribunal urged the US Government to order the immediate and permanent cessation of all military activity on Vieques. The judges also recommended the decontamination of Vieques and a just indemnization for damages to the health of the people and the natural resources and to secure the economic recovery of the island.

The International Tribunal contributed to campaign of dissemination and denunciation aimed at discrediting US military policy in Vieques and in other parts of the world where their actions are in direct violation of basic human rights. During the past six months, the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques has sent community representatives to present the Vieques case in international forum in Spain, England, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Cuba and the United States.. For several years, the CRDV has coordinated visits by international delegations for demilitarization and decontamination, along with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (US) and the Caribbean Project for Peace and Justice (PR). The work of the International Tribunal about Human Rights Violations in Puerto Rico and Vieques will be a significant contribution to the struggle for peace on Vieques.

For more information from the CRDV ? including the final findings and other documents related to the International Tribunal ? please contact us by email at We also suggest you visit the web site of the Committee at or the web site,

Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques

Friday, 6 December, 2000

Press Release

Organizers from Okinawa and Puerto Rico share strategies at the Japan Peace Conference

Ismael Guadalupe, from the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques and Maria I. Reinat Pumarejo, from the Institute for Latino Empowerment,
were part of an international delegation that met in Okinawa for the Japan Peace Conference from the 28th of November to the 4th of December. This magnum conference brought together thousands of Japanese antimilitary organizers and an international delegation to the capital city of Naha.

The Puerto Rican activists met with their Okinawan counterparts to share strategies and strengthen even more the bonds of solidarity established through previous visits by others from Puerto Rican. There are many similarities between the countries.

Among the outstanding events of the conference we mention the following: the visit by the international delegation to the vice Mayor of the city of Nago, that faces the threat of a new military base (a heliport)supported by the local government against the will of the people expressed in a 1996 referendum; meetings with several grass roots organizations fighting militarism; interviews with several news media from Japan and Okinawa; and special participation in the international symposium where not only were shared diverse aspects of the struggle against the U.S. Navy in Vieques, but also heard were activists about their particular situations of struggle against US military bases in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Italy and the United States. Many other activities were programmed to promote joint efforts between Okinawa and Puerto Rico against the imposed U.S. militarism.

The group issued a joint declaration to be transmitted world wide in which it expressed that "the solution to the problem of the bases is now part of an international agenda" and the will exists to eliminate these bases as a common effort amongst the different nations of this planet.

Ismael Guadalupe 741-2304
María I. Reinat Pumarejo 732-5077, 649-6559

Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques

December 8, 2000

Press Release – Don´t Play with the Health of our Children

The Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR),
is visiting Vieques to investigate about health and toxic substances. It is a federal agency that intervenes in communities with high levels of toxic contamination. But this agency has a long and negative history of bad relations with affected communities.

Hiding behind a façade of "science", the ATSDR does not conduct scientific studies. Its procedures are limited to interviewing a few people in the affected area, ask the contaminator (in this case, the US Navy), or other governmental agencies for information about toxics in the environment, and later conclude that there is no "scientific" way to prove causal relationship between the contamination and terrible health problems.

We know what to expect from this agency in Vieques. Admiral Kevin Green has already announced publicly that ATSDR will exonerate the US Navy for any responsibility related to health problems suffered by the people of Vieques.

The Vieques community has heard testimony from people who have suffered from the machinations and trickery of this federal agency, like the case of the ex residents of Christian City in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Several experts in health and environment told about ATSDR intervention in Puerto Rico and the United States and all gave identical testimony: ATSDR carries out incomplete studies, manipulates and twists information, and in almost all cases, has exonerated the contaminator of being the cause of the health crisis in the communities.

Several Vieques doctors asked ATSDR for economic help so health professionals on the island municipality could carry out medical studies and laboratory analisis necessary to diagnose and provide treatment to Viequenses exposed to the toxic substances of the US Navy. But ATSDR does not provide resources for this tipo of study nor does it do medical exams for residents, so it is not clear how the agency will use and/or manipulate the healt data available.

Individuals, community organizations and professionals in Vieques and in Puerto Rico must sound the alert and energetically protest the lies and deceit planned by ATSDR against the people of Vieques. Our struggle for real, for peace and for the health of this and future generations of Viequenses. ATSDR OUT OF VIEQUES!

Contactos: Nilda Medina, Comité Pro Rescate y Desarrollo de Vieques 741-0716
Dra. Dulce María Albandoz, Médico de Vieques 741-2288
Lisandro Rivera, Colectivo Cayo La Yayi
Dr. Jorge Colón, Grupo de Apoyo Técnico Para el Desarrollo Sostenible de Vieques 640-7694
Sarah Peisch, Centro de Acción Ambiental 250-855

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