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Referendum Ballot Set

P.R. Flag Raised As Exercises End

Calderon: A Win, A Loss

Governor: Pentagon Not Considering Roosevelt Roads Closing

Ortiz Privately Worked To Lure Range To Texas


Columns On Referendum Ballot Established

July 2, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

VIEQUES (AP) - The cessation of the U.S. Navy military exercises by May 2003 will occupy the first column on the ballot for the referendum on the Navy presence in Vieques.

Meanwhile, the second column will be occupied by the immediate exit of the Navy from Vieques, and the third, by the indefinite continuation of the military practices.

The order of the options was established by drawing lots Monday morning at the Vieques Community Center with the presence of State Election Commission (SEC) President Juan R. Melecio.

Until now, the Vieques Electoral Registry has 6,161 voters, according to William Velez, SEC Permanent Inscription Board supervisor.

This number contrasts adversely with the 6,844 voters who participated in the November elections. In November 5,522 people voted and 1,322 voters didn't.

SEC certified three groups to represent the referendum ballot options: `Viequenses Unidos', `Viequenses por la Paz,' and `Viequenses Pro Marina.'


Protesters Raise Puerto Rican Flag On Vieques

July 1, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

VIEQUES (AP) - Protesters opposed to U.S. Navy bombing on Vieques raised a massive Puerto Rican flag on a hilltop overlooking the firing range Saturday, calling it a final act of defiance after the Navy ended its bombing exercises.

Since June 18, Navy jets have dropped 25-, 500- and 1000-pound dummy bombs on the range, angering protesters who call for an immediate end to the bombing. The last bombs were dropped Friday night.

Although President George W. Bush this month ordered the Navy to leave in 2003, many Puerto Ricans say that is too long to wait.

A crowd of about 200 protesters watched Saturday as others raised the Puerto Rican flag on a 90-foot (30-meter) flagpole.

"Viva Puerto Rico! Viva Vieques! Long live the fighters for peace," said local priest Nelson Lopez, as he blessed the 50-foot-wide (15-meter-wide) flag with holy water.

Navy security forces detained a total 68 protesters who invaded military lands during exercises to press for an end to the bombing, Goode said.


Calderon's Battle Tally: A Win, A Loss

Iván Román

July 1, 2001
Copyright © 2001 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- In this combative week in the Capitol, Gov. Sila Maria Calderon seemed to come out even.

Senators from her Popular Democratic Party rejected Jorge Pesquera, her nominee to head the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., saying he was qualified, but objecting to his offering key positions to people of all ideologies.

"They've played politics here," said Rick Newman, president of the Puerto Rico Hotel Owners Association, who lobbied senators for Pesquera. "It's disgusting in my eyes."

But Calderon was able to fight off opposition to Maria Dolores Fernos, a feminist lawyer she picked to head the newly created Women's Advocate Office, to fight crimes that disproportionately affect women.

Angry representatives of conservative Christian groups called Fernos' defense of abortion rights "demoniacal" and fear she will try to impose her feminist ideology on the Legislature.

Legislators assured opponents that wouldn't happen.

Fernos had to be escorted out by police. She called opponents "prejudiced, retrograde and extremist."


Calderon: Pentagon Not Considering Roosevelt Roads Closing

JuNE 29, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon declared that U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon England told her that the Pentagon is not considering closing the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba.

Naval Operations Center Director Vernar Clark said Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representatives that if the Navy cannot train in Vieques, he would probably recommend that the $300 million invested annually in that naval station be reassigned to another location.

According to Clark, the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base supports the military exercises in Vieques.


Ortiz Publicly Opposed Vieques Bombing; Worked Privately To Lure To South Texas


JuNE 29, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Publicly, Rep. Solomon Ortiz joined fellow Congressional Hispanic Caucus members pressing for an end to bombing exercises at the Vieques Island training site in Puerto Rico .

Privately, Ortiz has known for four or five months that some of his constituents wanted a 222,000-acre Kenedy County site near Baffin Bay to be considered as a Vieques alternative. Area business leaders "were working hard to get a plan to mold public opinion to get people to support it" until their efforts became public earlier this month, he said.

"Everything was going fine until this story leaked out," complained Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi.

Ortiz has criticized the Navy's treatment of Puerto Rican residents, but not the exercises, which he says are essential to military readiness. He has said he supports the Hispanic Caucus' effort seeking the Navy's withdrawal from the island, but did not sign an April letter asking Bush to end the bombing immediately.

Since the proposal became public, its creators quickly have met to brief opponents, including members of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club.

"From what we've been told, it sounds like an environmental disaster," said Fred Richardson, the chapter's president.

The Navy said the proposal is preliminary, but could not immediately respond to questions about its meetings with local officials.

"The time will come when there's going to be public hearings when people who are for or against it get to make public comments," Ortiz said. "That doesn't mean they are going to be ignored. It doesn't mean they are going to be bypassed."

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