Puerto Rico Asks Pope´s Help in Vieques Controversy

VATICAN CITY, APR. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Governor Sila Calderon of Puerto Rico has requested John Paul II to intervene, to put an end to the U.S. naval exercises in the island of Vieques.

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Ferdinand Mercado, secretary of state of Puerto Rico, gave the Pope a letter from the governor, during his visit to Rome for the beatification of Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, the first Puerto Rican to be raised to the altars.

The Puerto Rican government has requested the U.S. Navy to suspend its exercises on the island, which has 9,400 inhabitants. Protests have escalated since the death of a Puerto Rican guard two years ago, from a bomb explosion.

The U.S. Navy says the exercises in Vieques are of vital importance for its Atlantic fleet.

Governor Calderon planned to go the beatification ceremony. She canceled her trip when the naval exercises started again over the weekend, unleashing massive protests that resulted in the arrest of 128 people for invasion of federal property.

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