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The Hartford Courant Editorial

Stop Bombing Vieques

May 6, 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Hartford Courant

For nearly 60 years, the Pentagon has used the inhabited island of Vieques , Puerto Rico , for practice bombing. Repeated requests from Puerto Rico that Congress end the maneuvers have fallen on deaf ears.

Surely the U.S. military can find other places to test its live ammunition.

Last month, Marine Corps pilots boning up for the war in Kosovo mistakenly dropped a pair of 500-pound bombs in a populated area, killing a security guard and wounding four other people.

Predictably, the incident caused an uproar in Puerto Rico . The commonwealth's legislature unanimously passed a resolution for an immediate end to the bombing.

Legislation is being prepared in Congress by lawmakers who represent large pockets of voters of Puerto Rican descent in the United States.

Connecticut's congressional delegation should sign on. Puerto Rico is a densely populated small territory, comparable to Connecticut. It should not be a place for the testing of live ammunition.

In response to the accident, the Navy issued an apology and launched an investigation. That's fine, but the bombing should stop.

Vieques is one of two places left in the Western hemisphere where U.S. military exercises are conducted with live ammunition. The other is an uninhabited island near San Diego. It's hard to believe that in 60 years the Navy hasn't been able to find another uninhabited area to stage its practice runs.

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