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More Than 100 Puerto Ricans Jailed

More than one hundred Puerto Ricans are in a federal jail in Puerto Rico. They were arrested on a peaceful demonstration on a bombing range on Vieques, which has been contaminated by depleted uranium in munitions fired by the US Navy. They were initially released, but apprehended a week later (when journalists had left the island.)
The sixty year struggle to free Vieques (an island off mainland Puerto Rico) from regular US bombardment has already resulted in nearly 700 arrests on Vieques. Protest camps on the bombing range were first cleared on 4 May this year when 216 people were arrested. They were threatened with prosecution, up to ten years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine if they re-entered the bombing range.
Nevertheless since then many locals have remained hidden on the range or broken in through the fences. Their presence did not stop the Navy from dropping twelve dummy bombs on 8 May or from carrying out prolonged shelling on 10 May. These acts endangered the lives of local activists who are committed to purely peaceful protest.
Undeterred, locals continued to arrive in fishing boats. On 18 June a further 26 people were arrested following a symbolic action where local women placed black crosses at the ecumenical chapel. The crosses were a memorial for Vieques women who have died of cancers and other diseases that locals attribute to DU and other substances in munitions dropped on the bombing range.
Locals have criticised the limited commitment of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to clean up contamination by DU rounds at the base. They were outraged at the US refusal to accept responsibility for the far greater contamination of Kosovo, where 34,000 DU rounds were fired and Iraq, where 1,000,000 were fired.

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From CADU News 4: Autumn 2000

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003