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Get 'US' Out Of Vieques

By Tom Gliatto and Cynthia Wang in Los Angeles

April 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
U-Wire. All Rights Reserved.

ATHENS, Ohio -- U.S. military forces have resumed practice bombing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques , rekindling an old debate.

Residents of the island are continuing protests of the bombing runs that resumed Monday. Five protestors were arrested and detained after trespassing on the naval base on Vieques , and soldiers sprayed rock throwers with pepper spray.

The bombing has been at the forefront of Puerto Rican politics for the last few years, including demands from Puerto Rico 's governor to Presidents Clinton and Bush to halt the bombing. Puerto Ricans also voted on a referendum on whether or not to allow U.S. planes to continue bombing. The practices use dummy ammunition.

President Bush announced in June 2001 he would cease all ordnance testing on Vieques by May 2003. Although this might have shown compassion toward the Puerto Rican plight, some say Bush made this move only to be favorable to the Hispanic contingent for the next presidential election.

Granted, the U.S. military needs to hone its skills. Without the armed forces, our country would be defenseless and open to any sort of attack, whether it is militarily or terrorist.

However, bombing and shore battery missions on an island that, for a good number of years, has been protesting these practices and policies of the U.S. military is insulting at best. The U.S. government would not stand for military practice on Long Island in New York or even the Florida Keys.

The people of Puerto Rico and Vieques Island should not be subject to the whim of the U.S. military. Although citizens of Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections or have a voting member of Congress, this does not mean their basic rights as U.S. citizens can be infringed upon. Though President Bush should be congratulated for his suggested solution to the problem, a speedier solution is needed.

The U. S. military must cease its blatant disregard of human rights in Puerto Rico immediately. Any continued action should be seen as a direct insult to those U.S. citizens living on Puerto Rico .

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