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Puerto Rico - Appeal for the cessation of US military exercises on the Island of Vieques

30 November 1999

Letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton, 30 November 1999.


Mr President,

The people of Vieques, Puerto Rico, widely supported by the churches there and in the United States, have for some months been engaged in non-violent actions seeking the cessation of US military use of this island for weapons testing and bombing practice.

The World Council of Churches fully supports this initiative. We join with Puerto Ricans and the residents of Vieques in appealing to you, in your role as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to declare a halt to these practices, and to remove the U.S. Navy from the island and the surrounding maritime areas.

U.S. military exercises in and around Vieques over many years have inflicted serious environmental damage. Worse still, they have repeatedly resulted in accidental deaths of civilian residents.

We urge you to take leadership in this matter, and in this period of Advent to exercise your authority in a way that would show respect for the human rights of the people of Puerto Rico and give them a sign of peace.

                                                                                                                                               Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                                                               Dwain C. Epps
                                                                                                                                               Director
                                                                                                                                               Commission of the Churches
                                                                                                                                               on International Affairs


 [TRANSLATION]

Excmo. Sr. Presidente

El pueblo de Vieques, Puerto Rico, apoyado por las iglesias locales y las iglesias de los Estados Unidos, se ha comprometido desde hace varios meses a realizar acciones no violentas para obtener el cese del uso de la isla como zona de pruebas por los militares estadounidenses.

El Consejo Mundial de Iglesias apoya completamente esta iniciativa. Nos unimos al pueblo puertorriqueño y a los habitantes de Vieques para apelar ante Ud., en su rol de Comandante en Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, para que declare el alto a estas prácticas y que ordene la salida de la Marina de Guerra de los Estados Unidos de la isla y de las zonas marítimas circundantes.

Los entrenamientos militares que realizan en Vieques y en sus alrededores desde hace muchos años han deteriorado seriamente el medio ambiente. Peor aún, han causado muertes accidentales de civiles.

Por lo tanto, le instamos a tomar las medidas que se imponen y que, en este período de Adviento, ejerza su autoridad de manera que muestre el respeto de los derechos humanos del pueblo puertorriqueño y les haga llegar un mensaje de paz.

                                                                                                                                             Respetuosamente,

                                                                                                                                             Dwain C. Epps,
                                                                                                                                             Director,
                                                                                                                                             Comisión de las Iglesias en
                                                                                                                                             Asuntos Internacionales