July 22nd, 2001 CALL FOR IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF ALL BOMBING, WAR PRACTICES, EXERCISES AND OTHER ACTIVITIES BY THE US MILITARY FORCES IN VIEQUES, PUERTO RICO
Doctors for Global Health (DGH) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit, Volunteer, humanitarian organization dedicated to the promotion of health, education and other Human Rights in the United States, Central America and throughout the world. Officially incorporated in 1995, DGH was born from the experience and inspiration of Volunteers from the United States doing Health and Human Rights fieldwork in El Salvador, France, Mexico and other countries.
DGH encourages and welcomes Volunteers from all walks of life, including physicians and other health workers, students and teachers. At present DGH has more than 200 supporting Volunteers who either work from their own communities around the world or work in DGH-related projects in El Salvador, Uganda, the United States, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras and Chiapas, Mexico. DGH is administered by an elected Board drawn mostly from past and present Volunteers, a diverse group which has ranged in age from 22 to 85. The Advisory Council consists of more than 150 persons with a vast amount of international and national experience in promoting health, education, community medicine, social justice and Human Rights.
DGH stands in accompaniment with the People of Vieques, with the overwhelming support of all of Puerto Rico's community sectors and of all civilized people of the world community, and stands against first-hand repression, atrocities and Human Rights abuses at the hands of US military forces. We therefore present the following statement for immediate cessation of the Navy's bombing, military training and all other war practices, the cleanup of contaminated lands and waters and the transfer of US Navy land back to the Municipality of Vieques.
WHEREAS, since 1938, the US Navy has been acquiring land in Vieques by expropriation, and the Navy controls 26,000 of the Island's 33,000 acres, and the US Navy uses 75% of the Island's soil for war maneuvers and bomb storage; and WHEREAS, Puerto Ricans understand the importance of national defense, and more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have fought in this nation's wars and conflicts, and more than 36,000 patriots are buried in Puerto Rico's National Cemetery, and four Puerto Ricans have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and hundreds the Silver and Bronze Star; and
WHEREAS, the US Navy has been performing bombing runs on the Island of Vieques for the past half century, and, unlike other communities on the Eastern Seaboard affected by bombing ranges where citizens can vote for Congressional representation, and Puerto Rico is relegated to US colony status; and
WHEREAS, an overwhelming majority of Vieques residents–68%–in a non-binding referendum on July 29, 2001 called for an immediate cessation of bombing and military training by the US Navy, as well as transfer and cleanup of the lands; and
WHEREAS, on June 21, 2001 the United Nations Committee on Decolonization unanimously passed a historic resolution which acknowledges Puerto Rico's right to self-determination, and denounces the United States' colonial practices, both against the People of Puerto Rico and the island Municipality of Vieques; and
WHEREAS, according to the Puerto Rican Cancer Registry, Vieques residents had a 26.9% higher incidence of cancer than other Puerto Ricans for 1985-1989, the last period for which data are available; and
WHEREAS, a study in 2000 showed that 44% out of 49 Vieques residents who were tested had toxic levels of mercury in hair samples; and
WHEREAS, a study released in January 2001 found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in vegetables and other plants grown in the civilian area of Vieques–levels above critical values for human consumption as defined by the Food and Drug Administration; and
WHEREAS, the same January 2001 study found high levels of nickel, cobalt, magnesium and copper in edible plants grown in Vieques, which are the same metals found in the constituent elements of ordnance fired or dropped in Vieques; and
WHEREAS, the US Navy is accused by the People of Vieques and all of Puerto Rico of polluting the air, water and land; and contributing significantly to the high levels of cancer and other diseases; and for profound psychological damage caused to children related to the degradation of the environment; and the adverse impact on health, especially via the use of depleted uranium, napalm bombs and other chemical and toxic weapons condemned by international public opinion; and
WHEREAS, a cleanup will be necessary for the protection of public health, whether the land is preserved as ecological refuges, developed for social use or dedicated to a balanced mixture of uses; and
WHEREAS, the Navy's violations of environmental and civil and human rights laws in Vieques have led to the death of at least one civilian, half a dozen lawsuits and nearly 2,000 administrative tort claims, in addition to more than a thousand cases of civil disobedience; and
WHEREAS, the healthy development of the economy of Puerto Rico for more than a half century has been thwarted, forcing its people to emigrate in search of work and well-being, violating the natural right of the People of Vieques and Puerto Rico to enjoy their natural resources and their right to peace and well-being.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT, Doctors for Global Health urges all individuals to petition their media outlets and public officials to support both an immediate cessation of all bombing and variant war practices, military training exercises and other activities of Human Rights abuses by the US military forces in Vieques, Puerto Rico; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, Doctors for Global Health calls on the US government to assume total responsibility for cleanup of lands and waters contaminated by the US Navy and to transfer US Navy land back to the Municipality of Vieques.
ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY by the Board of Directors, this day, July 22, 2001 at the Doctors for Global Health (DGH) annual General Assembly, held in Kalamazoo, in the State of Michigan, United States of America.
In Health and Human Rights,
Doctors for Global Health Board of Directors
Stephen Miller, MD; Lanny Smith, MD, MPH, DTM&H; Joy Mockbee, MD, MPH; Timothy Holtz, MD, MPH; Jennifer Kasper, MD, MPH; Audrey Lenhart, MA; Wendy Johnson, MD; Renée Smith, Med; Clyde Smith, MS; Shirley Novak, MA; John MacArthur, MD, MPH; Monica Sanchez; Daniel Bausch, MD, MPH; Linnea Capps, MD, MPH; Wendy Hobson, MD; Lisa Madden, MD, MS; Gerald Paccione, MD; Andrew Schiavoni, MD.