As this issue of the Nuclear Resister goes to press, the U.S. Navy is again training for war with the bombardment of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Members of the island community and their supporters have begun entering the restricted training areas in a continuing campaign of nonviolent resistance to force the military out.
On August 20, the day after the new war training was announced, federal agents moved to arrest brothers Pedro and Cacimar Zenón Encarnacíon, and their friend Regalado Miró Corcino. They first brought in Cacimar and Regalado, and the next day, Pedro. The three young men of Vieques had refused to answer a summons to federal court in San Juan, charging them with trespass on the bombing range in April. They are now being held without bond at the federal prison in Guaynabo.
When Pedro Zenón Encarnacíon was arrested, Puerto Rican police on Vieques refused the U.S. marshal's request to be flown with the prisoner on police aircraft to the main island. The Navy eventually supplied a boat.
Behind the iron bars they join anti-militarists Robert Rabin, completing a six-month sentence for disrupting the April war games, and Pedro Colón Almenas, a student activist serving a one year sentence. Colón Almenas was convicted of assaulting a ROTC official at an April, 2001 protest of the military training program's presence on the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Even an Army investigator was surprised by the prosecution, testifying that the incident was a "small skirmish" that interrupted an otherwise peaceful demonstration.
Rabin and Hiram Lozada, president of the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission, were removed to a more secure unit July 18, after their public denunciations of a series of violations of prisoners' rights. Lozada completed his sentence on August 10, and Rabin is scheduled for release on October 10.
Through the month of July, truckloads of barbed wire rolled into the base, perhaps to replace the hundreds of feet of fencing removed by the people of Vieques each week from the boundary of the bombing range that occupies the eastern third of the slender isle. The Navy has been observed building floating piers and buoys off the eastern tip, but has not been seen filing the proper documents in the town library for public review of the new construction. The gate to Camp Garcia, on the island's western third, has been narrowed by concrete and stone reinforcements.
Since the last round of bombing in April, and the subsequent imprisonment of dozens of resisters, more than two dozen members of Congress have written to President Bush, asking that he sign an executive order enforcing earlier public statements that the Navy would finally quit Vieques in May, 2003. The announcement of more bombing saddened Governor Sila Calderon, who said she has only "unofficial information" that the Navy will truly leave by next May. She has joined the Congressional call to get the President's commitment in writing.
A "Relay for Peace and the Future of Vieques" on Sunday, August 24, brought all generations of Vieques' residents - from the elders whose land was expropriated by the Navy in the 1940s to today's children of the island - to carry a flame 19 kilometers across the island, and ignite a Torch of Peace at the gate of the military base. There, it will be kept alight until the Navy leaves. Hundreds of island residents came out in support along the relay route.
In late August, Robert Rabin had visitation privileges revoked for possessing contraband - a smelly (but sound) pair of sneakers handed down months earlier by a departing prisoner. A few days later on the 30th, Rabin lost phone privileges and was sent to solitary confinement for another minor infraction. His intention to fast in prison for the duration of the impending round of bombing may be compromised, as liquids are not always available in "the hole."
Supporters are asking for calls and faxes to the federal penitentiary in Guaynabo to express concern for Rabin's well-being, as well as that of all of the prisoners for peace for Vieques. Please direct all communications to the officials in charge of inmate affairs: Lcda. Alma López, fax (787)775-7824 or to the Warden, Jorge Patrana, fax (787) 775-7817 or call the prison at (787)749-4480.
For more information, contact the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV), Apartado 1424, Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765, (787)741-0716, or visit www.viequeslibre.org. Donations for outfitting the teams engaging in civil disobedience and entering the bombing range, and supporting them through their likely imprisonment are being solicited by the CRDV and will be greatly appreciated.
A letter-writing campaign seeks the transfer of Pedro Colón Almenas, now serving a one year sentence at Guaynabo Prison, to a half-way house in Trujillo Alto, near his university campus. There, he can continue his thesis work for a graduate degree in planning while completing his sentence in February, 2003.
Letters of support for Pedro Colón Almenas' transfer to the halfway house should be sent to Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director, Bureau Of Prisons, 320 First St. NW, Washington, DC 20534, fax (202)514-6878, email@example.com. Please be sure to include his name and ID #22192-069 at the top of your letter.
Individual letters of support can be sent to Pedro Colón Almenas #22192-069, Pedro Zenón Encarnacíon #19533-069, Cacimar Zenón Encarnacíon #19532-069, Regalado Miró Corcino #19775-069, and Robert Rabin Siegal #20374-069; all at MDC Guaynabo, POB 2147, San Juan, PR 00922-2147.