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Sila María Calderón: 1942—: Governor of Puerto Rico

U.s. Reneged On Promise To Withdraw

Calderón obtained President Bush's commitment to withdraw the Navy on May 1, 2003. She scheduled a referendum on Vieques to allow voters to choose between forcing the Navy to abide by the date or allowing the military to conduct ordnance exercises in return for $50 million in economic aid. She told the Washington Times she was fighting for people "whose health, security, and environment have been endangered for 60 years and who haven't had a voice to speak for them because they are very poor." Although 80 percent of Vieques residents voted for the Navy's withdrawal, the results of the referendum were non-binding. After terrorists launched the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, President Bush retracted his earlier promise and insisted that the military continue training missions over Vieques to protect national security. A month later Calderón allied with protesters to force Bush to set a withdrawal date.

After Calderón proposed a second referendum for November 6th, a month before the balloting, Superior Court Judge Sonia Velez Colon ruled the referendum unconstitutional. Colon also declared illegal the use of public funds for a non-binding vote. Calderón vowed to appeal the ruling while pressuring Congress to force the Navy off Vieques by May of 2003. Backing the governor was Puerto Rican Justice Secretary Anna-belle Rodriguez, who sought settlement of the issue by the Puerto Rican Supreme Court.

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services studied charges of illness on Vieques, Calderón publicized documents from the Puerto Rican health department reporting that islanders experienced an elevated risk of cancer, and that shelling noise caused a vibroacoustic disease that thickened the carotid artery. An April of 2001 cardiological study at Johns Hopkins had disputed Calderón's claim that bombing compromised health, and the Centers for Disease Control disclosed that Vieques residents showed a normal cancer incidence. Calderón's reply to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that he was dismissing the Puerto Rican research out of hand, and prejudging health surveys before they were tabulated and reviewed by unbiased agencies.

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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