Press Release: Committee for the Rescue & Development of Vieques
Supreme Court continues federal abuse against Vieques after today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the Navy in the case of 7 million Viequenses vs. U.S. Navy in a claim for health-damages, the speaker of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CPRDV) calls on the Government of Puerto Rico to defend the citizens of the island municipality.
Puerto Rican scientists and others close to the case of Vieques, congressmembers and community voices now criticized the report published last week by the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances /& Disease Registry (ATSDR). For ten years, this agency has generated reports exonerating all Navy liability for damage to health-issues in Vieques. Now, few days before the U.S. Supreme Court considered the case of final appeal, the federal agency did announce its findings. A coincidence? We doubt it.
The Federal Agencies – Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Court (in all instances), the Interior Department / the Department for Fish and Wildlife, and the ATSDR – acted in complicity with the Navy in a process of destruction of the environment, of natural cultural resources, of the economy and of the health of the people of Vieques, which began half a century ago and continues even ten years after the cessation of the bombing. In Vieques there is some hope for the new administration of Isla Nena (Vieques) and Isla Grande (Puerto Rico), being both the mayor and the legislative chairmen and many others in positions of power, with many people who participated in the fight against the military presence.
Mayor Victor Emeric has a long history of activism in favour of the de-militarization, in the struggle for better maritime transportation, for improved health-care and for the development of the community. Both Jaime Perreyó in the House of Representatives and Eduardo Bhatia, President of the Senate of Puerto Rico, have participated actively in civil disobedience-events between 1999 and 2003. However, according to members of the CPRDV, recent complaints re: the ATSDR reports and the crisis in Vieques came from Puerto-Rican scientists like Dr. Arturo Massol, and from US congressmen such as Steve Rothman and Alan Grayson. The Viequenses urge Puerto Rican politicians to require the strongest and most appropriate, transparent process of environmental cleanup with a more active participation and for the economic benefit of the Vieques community. They required urgent further actions by the Government of Puerto Rico and the Federal Government to relieve patients suffering from cancer and other catastrophic diseases and insisted on the need to provide the island with a hospital pursuant to the crisis in Vieques. During his campaign, President Obama made varies promises to the Governor of Puerto Rico Anibal Acevedo Vila and to the community of Vieques promising actions which he would take, if he was elected, aiming to alleviate the situation in Vieques. However, at the start his second administration period in the White House, Obama has done absolutely nothing to help improve the lives of our community.