Today at a press conference, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Anibal Acevedo-Vila (D-PR), and Members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses to call attention to the continued detention of Jacqueline Jackson and the need for an immediate end to U.S. Naval bombing of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
I would like to thank Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Anibal Acevedo-Vila for their leadership and dedication to protecting the rights of the people of Puerto Rico. They are strong voices in Washington. We are here today to call attention to the arrest and continued detention of Jacqueline Jackson and to urge President Bush to accept Rev. Jesse Jacksonís request for a meeting with religious leaders regarding Vieques.
Over the last 100 years, Puerto Ricans have served with distinction in the U.S. military and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the United States. In Korea, for instance, Puerto Rico ranked second only to Hawaii in men wounded and third in battle deaths per capita. In recognition of this extraordinary service to our country, the U.S. government should acknowledge the concerns of the people of Puerto Rico regarding the situation in Vieques.
Although the Bush Administration decided to end military training operations on Vieques by 2003, the situation is still in a crisis stage. Ending the bombing by 2003 is not good enough. The people of Puerto Rico strongly believe that the continued use of Vieques for live-fire weapons training by the U.S. Navy is harmful to their lives, the environment, and the economy. The bombing should end immediately.
A number of American citizens, including Jacqueline Jackson, have put themselves in harmís way, in acts of non-violence, to express their disapproval of continued bombing. The protestors are expressing their beliefs peacefully. They should not have to suffer degrading treatment while they fight for their cause. We must work together to resolve this crisis in a way that is fair and peaceful.
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