Resolution On Vieques

1980 Church of the Brethren Resolution

THE PAPER FROM THE CASTAÑER CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN AND DISTRICT BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION OF FLORIDA AND PUERTO RICO

As a historic peace church, we oppose all war, violence and unnecessary destruction.

The use of a large part of the island of Vieques, an inhabited island of Puerto Rico, as a practice range for the Navy is harmful to the residents of this island in that it has cracked walls and created unnecessary violent noise which distracts from school classes and sleep. It has interfered with the fishing industry. The above inconveniences have caused controversies and violence.

We are aware that the United States has many unoccupied small islands on which the Navy could carry out its practices without affecting the lives of established residents.

This concerns us as Christians and for this reason we ask our denomination, in its Annual Conference, to call on the highest circles in government and on other religious denominations to strive to put an end to the bombardments on the island of Vieques, bringing about again peace and the ending of unnecessary controversies and violence.

RESOLUTION ON VIEQUES

The Standing Committee commends the Castañer Congregation and the District of Florida and Puerto Rico for bringing to our awareness the injustice and violence perpetrated on the island of Vieques by our military forces.

BACKGROUND:

Vieques is a tiny island (19 x 4 miles) off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Historically it has been an agriculture community, producing coconuts and sugar cane.

When our military moved onto the island, more than one-third of the people (of a population of 13,000) were forced from their homes (some with as little as twenty-four hours' notice). Farms became grounds for bombing targets. Even the fishing industry was destroyed by bombings and underwater maneuvers. The remaining families continue to feel adverse effects from the noise, land vibrations, and fish kills. Some protesters of this situation have been deported to our mainland prisons.

A small neighboring island, Culebra, was occupied by our military during World War II and was used for a bombing target area until 1976. By that time resentment arose to such a point that the military departed, (A big factor that mobilized public opinion was a bombing accident that destroyed a home and resulted in personal injury.) Culebra is beginning to normalize its life. Former residents are returning. Community development and pride are growing. This experience, so nearby, gives hope for change to the present and former residents of Vieques.

CONCERN AND APPEAL:

In the light of the Church of the Brethren GOALS FOR THE 1980's, in particular, "God, the Lord of all life and all creation, calls us to do justice by supporting efforts to establish a just world order through nonviolent, means," the Standing Committee brings to Annual Conference the following petitions:

  1. that justice be restored to the people of Vieques
  2. that our military forces be withdrawn from that island
  3. that the land be returned to the people
  4. that the human rights be restored to those who protested the presence of the military.

We recommend that the Conference officers register these petitions with:

  1. The President of the United States
  2. The United States Department of Defense
  3. the press
  4. ecumenical and other appropriate bodies.

And we further recommend that the Church of the Brethren General Board make available to our people and congregations informational materials relative to this situation.

Action of 1980 Annual Conference: The Resolution on Vieques came from Standing Committee. Emily J. Mumma presented the recommendation from that body and it was adopted. Standing Committee recommends "that Annual Conference receive the paper from the Castañer Church of the Brethren and the District Board of Administration of Florida and Puerto Rico and that it answer the concern with the adoption of the Resolution on Vieques."

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