Today at a press conference, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Reps. Anibal Acevedo-Vila (D-PR), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to oppose the continued bombing in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
I would like to thank the new Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, Rep. Anibal Acevedo-Vila, for his leadership and dedication to protecting the rights of the people of Puerto Rico. They have a strong voice on their behalf in Washington.
In March I joined a number of my colleagues, led by Rep. Acevedo-Vila, in sending a letter to President Bush urging him to use his authority to halt the bombings. Sadly, the bombings resumed last week. The continued use of Vieques for live-fire weapons training by the U.S. Navy is harmful to the Puerto Rican people, the environment, and the economy. It should end immediately.
For almost sixty years the Navy has used Vieques, an inhabited island, for the most intensive live-fire training exercises in the country. The residents of the island have already suffered extensive harm from years of military exercises. The tragic accident in the Vieques weapons range in April 1999 underscored the safety and health concerns of these American citizens who live close to the live impact area.
The situation has reached a crisis stage. A number of American citizens, in acts of non-violence, have put themselves in harmís way to express their disapproval of continued bombing. Last Saturday, Rep. Gutierrez was arrested and detained under inhumane conditions by authorities. 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. The bombing in Vieques must stop immediately.
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