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This is a Blog of my trip to celebrate the end of Navy bombing of Vieques, Puerto Rico, April 29-May 5, 2003.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

<Marc> Life has been so busy here that I have really gotten behind on the idea of this blog. On May 2, our delegation gathered at the fence where 2 years before on that day 2 of our delegation members (H.A. and Rich) walked through a whole in the fence in an act of civil disobedience. Later there was a ceremony commemorating all of those who had committed civil disobedience in the efforts to free Vieques. We also visited Red Beach which has been off limits because was in the area that the navy controlled. They used the beach to practice beach lands and assaults. That evening, we went on a tour to a bioluminescent bay that has unique organisms that light up when the water moves. It was a fabulous site, especially with the Southern Cross constellation on the horizon.

May 3 we went out to Yayi Bay where three years earlier protestors had set up a settlement on navy land to protest their occupation of Vieques. We walked across the island there through the Impact Zone where the navy practiced their bombing runs. The area is littered with planes, tanks, and other stuff riddled with gun shots from the practicing. There are depleted uranium shells all over the area, as well as unexploded ordinance. On the Bahia Salinas del Sur side of the island local activists set up a cross in view of the command post where David Sanos, a civilian employee on the base, was killed by a misfired bomb in 1999 that triggered this latest round of protests.

Today I went to a museum about local Vieques history that was very professionally done. I then accompanied a vigil for those who have died in Vieques as a result of the navy presence. We then went out to Punto Arena on the western part of the island where the navy turned over in 2000. The area is still littered with ammunition dumps. </Marc> <!--7:01 PM-->

Thursday, May 01, 2003

<Marc> The last 24 hours have been quite an incredible experience. Last night, April 30, we went to the Peace and Justice camp across from the entrance to Camp García at about 10:30 p.m. People had already been partying for hours, celebrating the end of navy bombing and occupation of Vieques. At midnight, the base officially passed out of military hands and into a nature preserve. This victory represented the culmination of years of organizing and nonviolent direct actions. The celebrations were joyful and intense, and lasted throughout the night. On a stage at the entrance to the base, there were speeches, music, poetry, etc. We finally left the celebration at about 2 a.m.

Today, May 1, thousands of people marched from Isabel II, the capital of Vieques, to the gates of the former base. At the entrance, there were more speeches and then people continued the pilgrimage onto the base. For many people, this was a powerful experience as the only other time they had been on the road leading into the heart of the base was after engaging in acts of civil disobedience against the navy’s bombing of Vieques. Now the former base is open for the public to enjoy the area’s beautiful beaches and landscape. Unfortunately, the land is heavily contaminated with depleted uranium and littered with unexploded ordinance. It will be a long struggle to assure that the navy complied with promises to clean up their mess.

Chants from the march:

Vieques si, marina no
Que es vaya la marina
Fuera la marina
La marina ya se fue
Arriba, abajo; la marina al (fue? pa’?) carajo
Pinche marina cuente nos bien; no somos uno, no somos cien </Marc> <!--10:26 PM-->

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

<Marc> We've arrived in Vieques and the Navy will be leaving their base here in a couple hours. At midnite, the big party will start. This should be quite an experience! </Marc> <!--8:53 PM-->

Thursday, April 24, 2003

<Marc> I've been wanting to visit Puerto Rico for years, because to me it seems like such an anomaly--it is a colony of the United States yet culturally it is Latin America. I had also wanted to go stand in solidarity with the people of Vieques, and now I finally have my opportunity! </Marc> <!--12:13 AM-->

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