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AFT Resolutions

RESOLUTION ON VIEQUES

WHEREAS, the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) has provided information about the situation of the island municipality of Vieques, whose territory has been used for 60 years for target practice by the U.S. Navy and other countries; and

WHEREAS, the Island of Vieques is populated by more than 10,000 Puerto Rican men, women & children, U.S. citizens, and hundreds of them members of the Federacion de Maestros and other AFL-CIO unions, who are submitted to the disgrace of seeing their territory bombarded by land, air and sea; and

WHEREAS, one year ago a civilian Viequense was killed when a bomb missed its target. This accident may be added to the rest of the near-misses by the U.S. Navy, which permanently put the lives of Vieques residents at risk; and

WHEREAS, the use of this island for bombings and military maneuvers has disrupted education, endangered the health, safety and well-being of the community and all its inhabitants; and

WHEREAS, the bombing and military practices in Vieques have also caused serious problems of environmental contamination, which has harmed flora and fauna of the island, some of these in danger of extinction; and

WHEREAS, the contamination of the waters and the harm suffered by sea animals have caused a decline in the fishing industry, one of the most important sources of income for the population of this island municipality; and

WHEREAS, the People of Vieques have unanimously demanded that the U.S. Navy cease its bombings and leave the island; and

WHEREAS, the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico along with the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) actively support the people of Vieques' struggle and have participated and organized diverse activities seeking the removal of the U.S. Navy; and

WHEREAS, a broad spectrum of Puerto Rico leaders including teachers, clergy, health professionals and labor leaders have been arrested and subjected to internal exile for their involvement in efforts to end the bombing; and

WHEREAS, the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico, the American Federation of Teachers and the entire Puerto Rico labor movement have expressed their support of the people of Vieques, as have the government, the political parties, the churches and the civic and professional organizations; and

WHEREAS, the report of the Special Commission of Vieques appointed by the Governor or Puerto Rico, composed of representatives of all the political parties, churches, civil and professional organizations, has unanimously recommended the end of all bombings of Vieques and the immediate exit by the U.S Navy; and this was adopted as public policy by the government of Puerto Rico.

THEREFORE, this 76th Convention of the American Federation of Teachers, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the 2nd to 7th of July 2000 resolves to:

  1. Express our support of the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico in their struggle to live in peace, to stop U.S Navy bombing and to have its immediate and permanent removal from the island municipality;
  2. Support the right for teachers to teach and children to learn in peace, free from the noise and physical disruption and psychological trauma of the existence and threat of bombings and military maneuvers in the close proximity of civilian population; and
  3. Support the firm position taken by the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico, AFT Local 1649, the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the Puerto Rican working class, the Government of Puerto Rico and the general public in support of the struggle of the people of Vieques; and
  4. Request that the President of the U.S., Bill Clinton, order the permanent end of bombing of Vieques and the removal of the U,S. Navy from that Puerto Rican island; and
  5. Demand that the U.S. Navy make reparations for the destruction of the environment that it has caused and assist in the social, economic, and educational development of the people of Vieques; and
  6. Demand that the federal authorities end the arrests of individuals involved in the effort to end the bombings of Vieques.

Submitted by the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico, AFT Local 1649


(2000)