By DAVID BERNT
In its preparation for war, the U.S. Navy has begun exercises at its bombing range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The people of Vieques have been protesting the use of the island as a bombing range, exposing its people to severe health risks. The Navy uses the range to practice war games with the use of live bombs, including napalm.
The Navy has refused to leave and clean up the range, despite a recent two-thirds vote of the island’s people in a non-binding referendum demanding that the Navy do just that. According to Maricelis Rivera Santos, editor of the magazine El Vocero, battle groups of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. John F. Kennedy have already been sighted near Vieques. The Navy has notified island fishermen they will be bombing every day in the upcoming weeks.
Activists are planning protests to continue demanding the Navy vacate the island. The people of Vieques will no doubt be among the victims of any U.S. military retaliations, providing yet another reason for workers in the United States and elsewhere to oppose Washington’s drive toward war.