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Sila María Calderón: 1942—: Governor of Puerto Rico

Faced Off Against United States

Calderón's most volatile political endeavor was her battle to force the U.S. Navy to surrender use of the island of Vieques, the Atlantic Fleet's only live-fire training range. In April of 1999, when a bomber accidentally killed civilian security guard David Sanes Rodriguez, islanders challenged a post-World War II deal with the Navy to allow ordnance testing. They cited as reasons for eviction the endangerment of life and health and the suppression of fishing and tourism. Calderón, in her inaugural address, had accused the United States of exploitation, stating, according to Insight in the News: "Sixty years of a menace to the health and security of our compatriots is unacceptable for any civilized and peaceful society."

In February of 2001 environmental lobbyists bolstered her protest with claims that bombing drills poisoned the atmosphere. Unlike previous governors, Calderón ordered the U.S. Navy off Vieques, emphasizing what she felt were six decades of military imposition on islanders. She reasoned that detonation of live ammunition posed security risks and sapped residents' health by disrupting the peace and spreading contamination from cadmium, copper, lead, and magnesium.

Navy Secretary Robert Pirie informed Calderón that the military would resume inert bombing at Vieques after an agreed 90-day hiatus. To suppress more bombing, she imposed anti-noise-pollution laws, which a U.S. district court overturned. Locally, she drew criticism for the fiscal waste of paying ad agencies over $1 million to design campaigns supporting her anti-ordnance crusade. However, she found support from New York's Governor George Pataki, a Republican who courted the Latino vote by backing protesters.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographySila María Calderón: 1942—: Governor of Puerto Rico Biography - Elected Mayor Of San Juan, Fought Government Corruption As Governor, Faced Off Against United States