Myrna Pagan Comittee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques We are united in an effort to make PEACE in a world which is in an extraordinarily dangerous moment. The United States of America is at war, a war against world terrorism, the enemy is everywhere, and everything in its command will be used to defend the United States. What are the limits? The Bush administration appears to be deliberately ambiguous as to ruling in or out the use of nuclear weapons. The weapons of mass destruction are not ruled out. We must say no to the use of nuclear arms and military escalation. We must suggest alternatives to those policies which depend on superior weapons power and political domination. Ours are the voices which must be heard at this moment. Voices which call for change from policies of destruction and retribution to a more enlightened response of non- violence, perseverence and noble purpose. We meet here, East and West, to inform, support and inspire each other in our struggles for peace and justice. The people of Vieques have a real contribution to make here for we have learned much in the past six decades of military occupation. We know how difficult it is to stand up to the major military power of the world and demand recognition of our human and civil rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We face the issue of national defense as superior to the rights of a community of 9,400 American citizens. How dare we make demands for a safe environment where the health of our people is foremost and the possibility of economic development a reality? We know that sixty years of war games on our tiny island have wreaked irreparable harm on our land, destroyed marine resources, contaminated our air, thwarted our economy, and of utmost importance, poisoned our people with toxic heavy metals. We dare to denounce the presence of the U.S. Military in Vieques and we demand that they stop bombing our island, clean up the contamination and go so that we can salvage the remains and create a new, better world for our children. This and future generations are our inspiration to persevere in the struggle. To us the rights of every man, woman and child are to be respected and protected. Vieques is a 21 mile long, 4 mile wide, strategically located Caribbean island in the archipelago of Puerto Rico. According to the U.S. Navy it is the "Crown Jewel" of their Atlantic defense system... the shooting gallery and sea to land, air to land bombing practice range for the U.S. and it's NATO allies. It is part of Roosevelt Roads, the biggest Naval installation in our hemisphere. In 1940 the exigencies of World War II gave the U.S. military the green light to take over our little island, in one stroke thousands of Viequenses were dispossessed and removed from their land... more than two thirds of the land was fenced off by the military and the displaced populace was forced to make a life sandwiched in between the Camp Garcia Weapons Training facility to the East and the Naval Ammunition Storage Depot to the West... bombing and non- conventional weapons testing upwind of the populace and storage of a full range of arms to the other side. Until recently Vieques was considered uninhabited and this concept conveniently fostered by the military. For decades the destruction of environment, social well being, economy and health of the people continued unchecked. The impact range and the Camp Garcia base was off limits to our government agencies. The Navy issued or didn't issue, at will, environmental impact statements. The situation was so overpowering that in its arrogance of dominion the U.S. Navy established a web site where it invited military contractors and foreign countries to rent its land and sea weapons ranges in and around Vieques: the moderate tropical climate is ideal for training exercises. Cancellations due to inclement weather are very rare. The inner range is a multi-purpose target complex located on the eastern portion of Vieques island encompassing 10,800 acres and the surrounding airspace and waters. It consists of the eastern training area, amphibious beaches, small arms range, a live impact area, and practice minefields..... ONE STOP SHOPPING YIELDS HIGH RETURN ON INVESTMENT..." Business was booming and the U.S. Navy was making 80 Million dollars a year renting out Vieques to its allies to come and bomb, test non- conventional weapons and enjoy extensive, unconstrained, encroachment free, controlled air and sea space. Nowhere did they mention that Vieques is inhabited. The civilian population was disregarded unconscionably in the sale of the utilization of Department of Defense facilities... "easier, faster and cheaper than ever before". Then came the one bomb that changed Vieques history... on April 19,1999 an errant bomb exploded at the Navy's O bservation Post during maneuvers and David Sanes, a civilian security guard was killed. News spread like wildfire and decades of resentment and indignation surfaced in affirmation of opposition to the Navy's presence and abuse. The safety of the people of Vieques became high priority, finally the people of the 紕ig Island" and the Central Government joined us and supported us in our outcry against the Navy's presence. The protest struggle which for years received scant notice now became the cause of the majority. We would see our big island brothers become conscious of our history of expropriation and what it meant to be occupied and abused by military power to the degree that cancer is 27% higher than in Puerto Rico, our death rate is 50% higher, our unemployment rate hovers around 60%, and our people have been subjected to the effects of toxics from live bombing explosions, testing with napalm, and even the use of depleted uranium... which the USN denied for a long time until it was forced to admit same. By October 19,1999, four months after David Sanes death, our Governor Pedro Rossello in a statement before the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee declared: ・Never again shall we tolerate abuse of a magnitude and scope the likes of which no community in any of the fifty states would ever be asked to tolerate. Never again shall we tolerate such abuse: not for sixty years, not for sixty months, not for sixty minutes." But, to the dismay of the people of Vieques, in a sharp about face from this stance, the P.R. Government made a deal and what we ended up with was the Clinton Directives which called for a Referendum in which among other unacceptable terms the people of Vieques would vote for bombing with inert bombs or bombing with live bombs... inert unti May 2003 or live for all time. To enhance their position there would be a 40 million dollar prize for inert and an additional 50 million if we vote for live bombing... the money to come directly to Vieques. The Government of Puerto Rico, under new Governor Sila Calderon, held a "Creole referendum" on July 29 of this year in which the people of Vieques voted for an immediate cease-bombing, the return of its land and after clean up the departure of the USN... million dollar booty and all. The seventy percent victory of the referendum was totally ignored and the on again, off again Federal Referendum which is opposed by all... USN, PR government, Congress, and Viequenses, et al, is still on the books as required by law... but just recently has been postponed from the original 6 November 2001 date to 25 January 2002. The DOD does not want to establish precedent where a civilian population is given the power to vote on the activity or permanence of the military on their soil. Our struggle took the path of peaceful civil disobedience and in the months after David Sanes・death we saw the concensus of opinion, and the active participation of all ranks of our society marching together in protest against the Navy: men, women and children entering the bombing range, the support of religious and political people from here and abroad in building camp sites, disrupting military maneuvers, bravely setting themselves up as human shields against the bombing of Vieques. News people from all corners of the globe covered the struggle and were there to record the arrest of thousands and the imprisonment of the protesters by the Federal Government. (Our Mayor is still encarcerated.) The people of Vieques were in control of the bombing range for a year... the bombs were silenced. The civil disobedience seemed to be turning the tide, the image of the world's greatest defender of democratic principles was suffering greatly with the exposure of its colonial abuse of Puerto Rico and the civilian population of the little island whose name people could now pronounce. Vieques finally had a human face. What will happen now that the world has changed after the World Trade Center tragedy? America speaks of a different kind of war waged in different ways with different weapons. Will this new war erase the face of Vieques? Our cause is just, our survival as a people is foremost in our minds, we cannot surrender our values and our lives when the US has other places they can use for training. We will continue our peaceful civil disobedience to stop the bombing of Vieques, clean up our environment and take control of our lives and our right to prosper as a people. And we will live as an example for all peoples of a more enlightened way to make PEACE NOT WAR.