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U.S. Decides to Halt Bombing Exercises on Vieques Island by 2003

U.S. Decides to Halt Bombing Exercises on Vieques Island by 2003

Posted June. 14, 2001 10:20,   


The New York Times (NY Times) reported yesterday that the Bush administration decided to halt all military exercises and aerial bombing runs on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, in which the destruction of the environment and the damages on the residents are at risk, by May 2003. The NY Times stated that ``the George W. Bush administration is concerned about losing the vital support among Hispanics if it proceeds with the bombing exercises on the Vieques. The White House ordered the Navy to halt the military exercises on the island within two years.`` The NY Times also added that the Navy will make a public announcement on 14th to stop the bombing exercises.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been protesting against the bombing exercises on the island through the hunger strike in prison, and three other New York City Councilpersons issued a joint statement stating that ``the continuation of the bombing exercises till 2003 is unacceptable. The Bush administration should stop the exercises immediately.``

Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon, a harsh critic of the military`s refusal to end the exercises, plans to hold the public referendum on July 29th on the Navy’s operations on the island. Despite the protests of the residents, the U.S. Navy’s aerial bombing exercises will resume on 18th. The officials of the Pentagon were complaining that the decision to halt the bombing exercise was made politically without taking into consideration of the military necessity, according to the NY Times. The Pentagon has opposed to the stopping of the bombing exercises by insisting that the Vieques Island is the most suitable place for the military exercises of the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy plans to return the Vieques range to the Department of Interior after 2003, and the Department Interior will determine how to use the land after cleaning it up. The Vieques has been used for the U.S. Navy’s military exercises since 1938. The residents of the island have been protesting against the military exercises due to the destruction of the environment and the health related problems.