From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Informed on U.S. Military Operations on Vieques

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date 19 Apr 2000 08:24:23


April 10, 2000


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) learned that United States military "live-fire"
training continues on Vieques, Puerto Rico, causing harm to the island's
environment and welfare of its people, according to the Rev. Mario C.
Miranda, a council member from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as
the legislative authority of the church between its churchwide
assemblies.  The council met here April 7-9.  Assemblies are held every
other year; the next is in August 2001 in Indianapolis.
     Vieques is an island that is part of Puerto Rico, located east of
its mainland. Residents there have said the fishing industry has been
disrupted, homes have been damaged and the island has become littered
with bomb shells.  On April 19 stray U.S. bombs killed a man and injured
four others, raising tensions between Vieques residents and the U.S.
     "The U.S. Navy has used much of the island for military exercises
for more than 50 years," said Miranda, a retired U.S. Navy captain.  He
delivered to the council current information about military conditions
on Vieques.
     "The end to bomb testing and other military activities on Vieques
is nowhere near.  Some perceive that the military operations there have
become civil disobedience," Miranda told the board.  "There is
solidarity among the people of Puerto Rico that the bombing should
     The council viewed a video illustrating the destruction of the
island's natural resources and the depressed living conditions of its
residents.  Miranda said civilians were given financial resources to
help improve living conditions, but they have expressed "that it is not
     The 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution that called
on the U.S. government "to seek reasonable solutions" that will end all
U.S. military operations on Vieques.  The assembly resolution also asked
that the land be returned to the people of the island "while not
compromising our nation's security."  It asked the ELCA Division for
Church in Society, through the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
(LOGA), to work with federal officials in seeking these solutions.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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