President Barack H. Obama’s claimed that the federal government can’t be held accountable for the unlawful use of Vieques Island as a testing ground for deadly toxins and weapons by the U.S. Department of the Navy for 63 years. The case was appealed in a Boston federal court and is pending.
By H. Nelson Goodson
December 4, 2011
Boston, MA - The pending Vieques Island federal case in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston seeks to overturn Puerto Rico’s federal court decision, in which Judge Daniel Dominguez dismissed the class action lawsuit against the U.S. on grounds it didn’t have authority to hear the case due to the government sovereign immunity claim. An appeal was filed on June 9, 2011 by Attorney John Arthur Eaves in behalf of 7,000 Vieques citizens (plaintiff’s) in Boston.
The plaintiff’s claim, that the U.S. Department of Navy unlawfully took over the Island of Vieques for the sole purpose of testing deadly toxins and weapons for 63 years (1940-2003) resulting in the mass military contamination of Vieques.
In the 1980‘s, the Navy admitted to using hazardous and toxic weapons including napalm, depleted uranium bullets, and cluster bombs, that were banned for use near civilian populations. The military also had tested Agent Orange, dropped 23,000 bombs in 1998 alone, nearly 2 million pounds of toxic waste was dumped, including solvents, lubricants, oils and heavy metals were left on the island and shores.
The plaintiff’s seek a multi-million dollar financial compensation for ongoing medical treatment of ailments and diseases attributed to contaminants left in the environment at Vieques.
Attorney Eaves claims that the deadly contaminants left by the military affected more than 9,000 American citizens living in Vieques who suffer from multiple illnesses and health conditions. A Puerto Rico Health Department study showed, those effected by the Vieques contamination have a 30% higher rate of cancer, a 381% higher rate of hypertension, a 95% higher rate of cirrhosis of the liver, and a 41% higher rate of diabetes than the inhabitants of Puerto Rico’s main island. Hair testing has shown that a majority of those living on the island suffer from at least one form of heavy metal poisoning from toxins such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum.
Approximately half of the indigenous population suffers from two or more heavy metal poisoning, according to Eaves.
Recently, U.S. Congressman Steve Rothman (D-New Jersey) sponsored the Vieques Recovery and Development Act of 2011, which would provide financial compensation to Vieques citizens who suffer from the Navy’s contamination effects, creates a full service hospital in Vieques and a center to study the effects of the contamination left by the military. Rothman’s bill is facing opposition in Congress.
In 2007, President Obama while campaigning for president promised to work on finding remedies to health conditions caused by the military contamination in Vieques. In 2010, with his administration claiming sovereign immunity, it sent out a clear message from Obama that he won’t keep his promised and left thousands of Vieques citizens to fend for themselves without the any financial or medical support to help treat those suffering from the after effects of Vieques.
Puerto Rico citizens can’t vote for a U.S. President. Commonwealth voters can elect a resident commissioner, who has a voice, but no vote in the U.S. House of Representatives (Congress). Puerto Ricans became U.S. Citizens in 1917 and Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth in 1952.
Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. mainland can actually vote for a U.S. President and Obama and his administration will face a negative backlash from American Puerto Ricans who are a proud and loyal people who stand with Vieques. Obama could turn away millions of U.S. mainland Puerto Rican votes, including eligible Hispanic voters supporting Vieques citizens in his re-election bid, if he doesn’t remedy the Vieques issue soon.
Related articles :
U.S. Navy Neglected Federal Law And Executive Orders Regarding Vieques Resulting In Toxic Waste http://goo.gl/u1IIn
Lawsuit Claims Over Seven Thousand Vieques Residents Sick By Navy Toxins http://goo.gl/sXJly
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