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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Puerto Rican activist in Ottawa, Oct 6


Ottawa - October 2, 2001
As the world reacts to the horrific events of September 11, many are
beginning to question the history of US aggression around the globe that
has created such contempt and hatred for US foreign policy. Vieques, Puerto
Rico, is a snap shot of the global discontent with the United States.
Moraima Rivera, a farmer and activist from the island of Vieques, Puerto
Rico, will arrive in Ottawa on October 5, 2001 to speak out against US test
bombing and military exercises on the island. She will also describe the
widespread campaign of non-violent resistance against the US test bombing
of Vieques. 
The small island of Vieques, located to the east of Puerto Rico's main
island, has been the site of US military exercises for the past 60 years.
Since 1938, the US Navy has been acquiring land in Vieques by
expropriation. Currently, the US Navy controls 75% of the island's
territory for war maneuvers -- including target practice with live
ammunition -- and bomb storage. Vieques, an island with nearly 10,000
residents, is subjected to exercises by US and foreign troops an average of
235 days of the year, affecting some of Puerto Rico's best beaches and
fishing grounds.

There are claims that the war games are responsible for Vieques' high
cancer rate of 208 per 100,000 residents.  This rate is almost double the
Puerto Rican average.
The war maneuvers reached a tragic climax on April 19, 1999, when U.S. jets
training for Kosovo, launched a 500-pound bomb that killed David Sanes
Rodriguez, a 35-year-old guard, and injured 4 others.

The campaign "US Navy out of Vieques" intensified as a result of the death
of Mr. Rodriguez.  Several civil disobedience encampments were established
around the US Navy training camps. Members of Puerto Rico's Senate have
called for the end of use of live ammunition, saying that up to 20 bombs
and shells per minute have been exploded on the island.

The US Navy defends its presence, saying it has no other such training
grounds in the Atlantic.

While the events of September 11th have lead the United States government
to an intensification of military action as part of their campaign to rally
the world's richest nation to arms, citizens around the globe have begun to
participate in teach-ins, peace vigils, demonstrations and other public
displays of dissent to question the logic of going to war to put an end to
violence. Demonstrations have happened or are scheduled in many cities
around the world, including Ottawa.

Moraima Rivera will be one of the key note speakers at a 'Vigil for
Nonviolence' on October 6 organized by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms
Trade (COAT), at Ottawa's First United Church. Ms. Rivera will also lead a
90-minute workshop to build awareness and solidarity among Canadians for
the nonviolent resistance movement on Vieques Island. 

COAT's 'Vigil for Nonviolence' coincides with the NATO Parliamentary
Assembly meetings being held in Ottawa Oct. 5 - 9. COAT originally planned
to hold a "No to NATO: Festival of Creative Nonviolence" on Oct. 6.
Endorsements were received from 131 NGOs in 14 countries for that event.
Large Canadian endorsers included the Canadian Auto Workers, the National
Union of Public and General Employees, the Canadian Federation of Students,
the New Democratic Party - Canada and the Council of Canadians. The
horrific events of September 11, however, led COAT to change the festival
to a vigil.  

People will gather at 1 pm on Parliament Hill for a Silent Procession to
First United Church, 397 Kent St., for a program of speakers, music,
discussion groups and workshops.

For a detailed program on COAT's website:

Pablo Leal 747-9930

 - 30 -

                          Richard Sanders
       Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
 A network of individuals and NGOs across Canada and around the world
          541 McLeod St., Ottawa Ontario K1R 5R2  Canada
            Tel.:  613-231-3076      Fax: 613-231-2614
     Email: <ad207@ncf.ca>   Web site: <http://www.ncf.ca/coat>

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