Protesters Arrested as U.S. Navy Resumes Vieques Military Exercises
Interview by Denise Manzari. On June 19, the day after the U.S. Navy resumed military exercises using dummy bombs on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, 40 protesters have been arrested, including Jackie Jackson, the wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson. The group had entered the firing range demanding an immediate end to the military manuevers. Eight of these protesters had landed by boat just before the start of the bombing.
Last week, President Bush had announced that the Navy would leave Vieques in 2003, the same timeframe slated by former President Clinton. But many island residents, and even the governor of Puerto Rico have rejected the proposal and are demanding an immediate halt to the bombing exercises. A referendum about the Navy exercises, previously brokered by former President Clinton and former Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosello is scheduled for November. Puerto Ricans have also scheduled a nonbinding vote in July. However, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England has asked Congress to cancel the November referendum, stating that it sets a very bad precedent.
Robert Rabin is a protest organizer and member of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. He spoke with Between The Lines' Denise Manzari. (A RealAudio Version Of This Interview May Be Found At http://www.btlonline.org) For more information contact the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques by calling (787)741-0716 or visit their Web site at www.viequeslibre.org