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Clinton Seeks Viable Status Options

Protesters Rally

More Vieques Arrests

Lott: Status Solution Useless Without Congress Participation

Congress Approves Vieques Referendum

Clinton Seeks Clearer And Viable Status Options For Puerto Rico

July 6, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - President Bill Clinton is studying the viable status options for Puerto Rico and his next likely step will be to meet with House and Senate leaders with jurisdiction over U.S. territories.

White House Interagency Working Group on Puerto Rico Co-director Jeffrey Farrow made the announcement while reading a letter sent by Clinton to Gov. Pedro Rossello during the 224th anniversary ceremony of U.S. Independence celebrated Tuesday.

"I guaranteed after the 1998 plebiscite that I would keep working to clarify [status] options to help Puerto Ricans choose realistic options," Clinton said in this letter.

Farrow said Clinton has already began to examine the three status proposals presented by the three local political leaders to the White House on June 28.

Protesters Rally In Puerto Rico

July 4, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Likening their cause to the United States' battle for independence, hundreds of Puerto Ricans rallied on the Fourth of July holiday outside a federal prison holding activists opposed to Navy bombing on the island of Vieques.

Protest organizers said about 90 of 122 people who had refused to post $1,000 bail on trespassing charges had been arrested since Friday by U.S. marshals and imprisoned in the federal prison in suburban San Juan.

The detainees were among 183 people arrested last week as they tried to enter the Navy bombing range on Vieques to prevent military exercises. A federal judge freed them temporarily, then ordered them detained after they refused to post bail.

Vieques Protest Continues With More Arrests

July 3, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- U.S. marshals fanned out across Puerto Rico on Sunday, arresting dozens of anti-Navy activists at home for refusing to post bail on federal trespassing charges.

Marshals had arrested more than 50 of 122 activists by Sunday afternoon, protest organizers said.

Those arrested were among 183 people originally detained last week as they scrambled under fences or sneaked onto remote beaches in an attempt to stop military exercises on the outlying Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

The unrest renewed a 14-month-old dispute on Vieques, a 21-mile-long Puerto Rican island of 9,400 people that is also the site of the U.S. Navy's prime Atlantic Fleet training ground. Activists committed to ousting the Navy say bombing at the site destroys fishing grounds and endangers residents. The Navy maintains the bombing is safe and provides crucial training for American sailors and airmen.

The protesters arrested last week had been freed temporarily and given until Friday to post $1,000 bail, but the group of 122 refused to pay.

``We do not recognize any moral authority nor the legitimacy of the U.S. court in this matter,'' Sen. Manuel Rodriguez Orellana of the Puerto Rican Independence Party said Sunday. The arrests ``unmask the repressive and intimidating character of the process,'' he said.

The arresting marshals would not talk to reporters. Herman Wirshing, chief of the U.S. Marshals Service in Puerto Rico, could not be reached for comment.

About 600 people have been detained since May 4, when marshals removed protesters who had camped out on the Vieques bombing range for a year to thwart exercises there.

Most of the 183 arrested last week were members of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. The party planned a rally on Tuesday -- the Fourth of July -- in front of the federal prison in San Juan where the arrested protesters are being held.

Resentment over the Navy's presence in Vieques boiled over in April 1999 when a U.S. Marine Corps jet dropped a bomb off target, killing a civilian security guard in the bombing range. The latest Navy exercises have used non-explosive bombs, but the protests have continued.

Lott: Status Solution Useless Without Congress Participation

July 2, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said President Bill Clinton will engage in a useless exercise if he establishes a solution process for the Puerto Rico status without the adequate participation and hearings in the U.S. Congress.

"We have been very careful and want to avoid any political intervention in local elections. It is very difficult to explain why the White House wants to work on the Puerto Rico status in the midst of an election. That is not appropriate," said Lott, in statements made by spokesman John Czwatacki in published reports.

He said Congress has only 25 voting days left before recessing on Oct. 1, and its calendar is packed so that there is no way to work with seriousness on the status issue.

"There will not be any type of legislation about the status this year," he said.

US Congress Approves Vieques Referendum In Puerto Rico

July 1, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Congress has approved money for a referendum on the U.S. Navy's presence in Vieques , a key step in President Clinton's effort to resolve a dispute over a military bombing range on the Puerto Rican island, Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo said.

Lawmakers assigned $40 million for the referendum and a raft of economic development packages on Vieques on Friday. The funds, included in the "military construction appropriations bill," forms part of the presidential directives on Vieques and now awaits the signature of President Bill Clinton.

"The approval in both chambers confirms the seriousness of this agreement," said Romero Barcelo, who reaffirmed that the presidential directives are the only way to resolve the Vieques situation.

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