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===== Original Message From chicory@lycos.com =====

Why Go to Vieques?

Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 23:33:19

I thought you'd like to know that I have decided to travel to Vieques in a day or two, to protest the U.S. Navy's presence on this tiny Puerto Rican island, and I'd like to tell you a little about why I've decided to go.

Everybody likes kids' art, right? The happy little houses, the bright sun, the green flora, the smiling fauna. Well, at an exhibition of art created by the children of Vieques, one finds all the usual images of the joy of childhood overshadowed by an additional element. Bombs, falling near those little houses.

On August 1, the U.S. Navy, along with other branches of the military, resumed its assault on a tropical jewel, the tiny Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Some 23,000 soldiers, marines, sailors are practicing an amphibious assault, supposedly with the intention of increasing battle-readiness, in preparation for such real-world attacks as the one on Kosovo in 1999, the devastating bombings of Iraq throughout the '90s, and other attacks conducted by a government increasingly out to flex its muscle, to show off its new world ordnance.

The Navy's practice sessions on Vieques are not new. Begun in 1941, they continue to this day. In April 1999, a civilian guard and Vieques resident, David Sanes, was killed by an errant Navy bomb; close attention to the island's history will show that he was not in fact the first Viequense to die due to the Navy's presence. [Please visit www.viequeslibre.org for more in-depth history.]

David Sanes' death refueled the urge to resist a colonial oppressor among the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico, a people for over 100 years subjected to the tyrannical rule of the United States government. A people portrayed for decades by their mainland rulers as passive, stoic, and resigned to a degrading condition have once again risen to show that, despite the blatant disregard shown by the U. S. government, they too will have a voice, will take and make their place in history.

I feel it is the responsibility of those concerned with human dignity and self-determination, particularly those of us who pay taxes that pay for the weaponry - the bombs, the helicopters, the aircraft carriers, the night vision gadgetry, the guns, the artillery, the insult - to stand by the side of our island neighbors.

On July 29, if there were any questions remaining about the will of the people of Vieques regarding the presence of the U.S. Navy on their land, the Viequenses voted by an overwhelming majority that they desire for the Navy to leave their island immediately, and for all lands seized by the Navy to be devolved [returned] to the municipality of Vieques.

In support of the democratic urge of the people of Vieques, I am traveling to the island, as an act of solidarity with the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico, seeking to help halt the disrespect shown by the U.S. government and military towards the human beings, the creatures, and the brilliant bioluminescent bays and coral reefs of Vieques. The U.S. government is grossly violating not only the will of its citizens, but the very notion of human dignity, of just action. Joining with others on the island, I will seek to contribute in the most effective ways that I can.

I am traveling with the tremendous encouragement and support of a great group of Catholic Workers in Ithaca. The Ithaca Catholic Worker Vieques Support Group is a community organization that works in solidarity with the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico, to end the U.S. Navy's bombing and polluting of their island through education and direct action campaigns.

Finding inspiration in the creativity and resilience shown by the people of Vieques; in the land-based struggle of the Zapatistas; from the Haymarket anarchists, the current anarchists of Chicago and the world over; from my companions at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago; from my family and friends; and also from the environment that produces the baby blue chickens' eggs on Vieques, and in the spirit of resistance and of life and love,

David Meyers

Chicago/Ithaca

 

===== Original Message From chicory@lycos.com =====

Back from Vieques

Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001

This is just a quick email to say that I am back in New York, after a brief yet intense journey to Vieques. In a nutshell, I arrived on the island at dawn Wednesday morning, and walked the streets of the town of Isabel Segunda as redheaded roosters crowed from the tops of trees. The town was a veritable billboard for peace, with posters in a bakery extolling the results of the referendum of two weeks ago, and with wheatpasted signs, graffiti, soaped car windows, and chalk drawings all over town, all referring to "No. 2" - the referendum option chosen by nearly 70% of the residents, calling on the Navy to leave immediately. I then sat outside a town museum overlooking the harbor, watching as a massive Navy battleship steamed westward, towards Roosevelt Roads Naval Base on mainland Puerto Rico, I assumed. I had not slept in 24 hours, and was preparing mentally to enter the bombing range.

A few hours later I met with my contact person, a fisherman who is at the heart of the movement to free the island from Navy assaults. He told me that the Navy had announced to the media that bombings were to cease (for this two-week session) that very day, and that the movement was not sending any more protesters onto the bombing range. Evidently, the Navy has been getting rougher with the protesters, including with the religious delegation which had gone onto the range the day before, and he did not want to send in protesters alone.

My contact said the most effective thing those in the U.S. can be do right now is organize more people to go to Vieques for the next bombing sessions, coming up in September. I think it is particularly important that U.S. residents who are not Puerto Rican go to Vieques, to show solidarity with the economically poor, yet rich in spirit people of Vieques. If you are interested in going, please contact me at this email address.

I will be sending out a much more detailed letter soon, with impressions of the amazing dedication of the people I met who are struggling for peace on Vieques. For now,

Paz & Peace. David


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