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Bush: Vieques Vote Unnecessary

Bill Filed To Abolish Referendum

Powell Supports Compromise

Rumsfeld Blames Clinton For Vieques Loss

Puerto Rico Will Vote on Vieques

Calderon Not Officially Informed On Vieques Decision


Bush: Vieques Referendum Unnecessary

June 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration said Monday there's no need for a referendum on Vieques now that the Navy has announced plans to leave the Puerto Rican island within two years.

The administration announced last week that the military would cease bombing exercises on Vieques, despite a Nov. 6 referendum where the island's residents could decide whether the Navy should stay or leave.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that unless Congress cancels the referendum -- which is highly unlikely -- the November vote will take place as planned.

``It is the law of the land and, unless the change is made, there will be a referendum, but the administration does not see the need for it, given the action taken by the Navy and the president,'' Fleischer said.


PDP Legislator Files Bill To Abolish Local Referendum

June 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party Rep. Jorge de Castro Font filed a legislation Monday aimed at abolishing the law that enables the celebration of a local referendum on the U.S. Navy presence in Vieques, scheduled for July 29 because it is "academic and unnecessary."

De Castro Font said President George W. Bush's determination to oust the Navy by May 2003, without holding the referendum established by the presidential directives, makes the local referendum an unnecessary spending of state funds.

De Castro added that with the cancellation of the presidential directives on Vieques, what Gov. Sila Calderon has achieved is "the loss of the $40 million guarantee for the economic development of Vieques, the cleaning of the land, and the loss of the most valued right under a democracy: the right to vote."


Powell Supports Vieques Compromise

June 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Navy offered a ``pretty good solution'' with its plan to end training on Puerto Rico's Vieques Island, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday on ABC's ``This Week.''. He did not think the decision would jeopardize the continued use of other sites where residents oppose the U.S. military presence.

Powell acknowledged criticism of President Bush's announcement last week that United States would stop bombing and other exercises by May 2003.

Republicans in Congress fear it could affect military readiness and endanger lives, and possibly set a precedent because there are other places where there is local opposition to the U.S. military presence.

Navy Secretary Gordon England said last week that the Pentagon is actively looking for a place or places where the Navy can do the bombing and other exercises that it has done for 60 years on Vieques. He also is creating a panel of experts to ``reinvigorate'' the effort.

``I don't think it sets a precedent,'' Powell said on ``Fox News Sunday.'' ``Vieques was a very unique situation, and I think the way the secretary of the Navy has handled it ... is a very correct way of going about this problem.


Rumsfeld Blames Clinton Administration For Loss Of Vieques

By Jamie McIntyre
CNN Military Affairs Correspondent

June 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CNN. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an interview with CNN on Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld blamed the Clinton administration for the loss of the U.S. Navy bombing range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and promised to find a replacement.

Rumsfeld said the decision to give up use of the bombing range in May of 2003 was essentially made when President Clinton agreed to submit the issue to referendum.

"The prior administration made an agreement with the government of Puerto Rico that there would be a referendum, and that they would leave the Vieques training range in 2003 if they lost the referendum. That's the arrangement that was made, and we have to live with that."

Bush administration officials have cited several polls that indicate sentiment among the more than 6,000 registered voters on Vieques running strongly against allowing the Navy to stay.

But the Navy argues that with a good public relations campaign they have chance of winning and preserving the right to conduct live-fire exercises on the island's uninhabited east end.


Puerto Rico Will Vote on Vieques

June 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico is moving ahead with plans for a referendum on the Navy's presence in Vieques despite President Bush's decision to halt training exercises on the island in 2003.

Advertisements announcing the July 29 nonbinding vote appeared in Puerto Rican newspapers Friday, a day after Bush said the Navy should leave the inhabited island.

Voters on the island of 9,100 people will be asked to decide whether the Navy should stay, leave in 2003 or leave immediately.

But it's unclear now if another referendum on the issue will be held. That question, scheduled to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, will also ask voters if the Navy should stay or go by 2003. The U.S. government and the previous Puerto Rican administration agreed to the referendum. But Bush's decision could mean it won't be held.


Calderon Not Officially Informed On Bush's Decision

By Proviana Colon Diaz

June 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

The Puerto Rico government did not receive an official notice from President George W. Bush regarding his decision to cancel the scheduled Nov. 6 referendum on the presence of the U.S. Navy in Vieques and his decision to order the military forces out of the island municipality by May 2003.

Instead, Gov. Sila Calderon became aware of Bush's decision late Wednesday night through her advisors at the White House and New York Gov. George Pataki.

The prolongation of military practices until May 2003 left the governor no other alternative but to continue with her efforts to stop the bombing in Vieques.

"We are satisfied with the certainty that there is a definite end to the Navy military practices in Vieques, but we deplore the intention of continuing military exercises and bombings for two more years. This, however, leaves us with an insufficient whole," Calderon said.

Therefore, the Puerto Rico government will keep its lawsuit in federal court for the Navy's violation of the noise prohibition law; the medical studies to prove that military practices cause health hazard to the residents of Vieques will also continue; and the July 29 local referendum will be held, Calderon said.

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