Much to the U.S. Navy's chagrin, President Clinton has announced a plan that will allow the island of Vieques, which lies seven miles east of Puerto Rico, to expel the Navy by May 2003.
The Navy, which has used the island as a training ground and bombing range for nearly 60 years, insists that the island is crucial to military readiness.
Clinton's plan gives Vieques residents a choice of either $50 million and a continued military presence or the Navy's eventual withdrawal. The options have not been well received by many Puerto Rican activists, who pledged to act as human shields to keep the military from resuming bombing operations in March.
The island's antimilitary movement was galvanized back in April, when a bombing run killed a Puerto Rican guard, merely 50 days after the Puerto Rican Senate passed a resolution calling for an end to the practice [see Occupation hazards, May 13, 1999].