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Navy leaves vieques { May 1 2003 }

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After Nearly 6 Decades, U.S. Navy Leaves Vieques

POSTED: 7:56 a.m. EDT May 1, 2003

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico -- In a last act of defiance, hundreds of protesters destroyed U.S. Navy vehicles as they celebrate the end to nearly 60 years of U.S. bombing exercises on Puerto Rico's Vieques island.

The militants smashed the lights and windows with sledgehammers. They also turned over a Humvee towing a boat and set them ablaze. And they burned two American flags.

The Navy Wednesday handed over 15,000 acres of land to the Department of the Interior, which will help transform the range into a wildlife refuge.

But some activists want that land turned over to Puerto Rican authorities. They said islanders should be allowed to develop the land -- to open inns and environmentally friendly lodges there to boost tourism and fight high unemployment.

Gov. Sila Calderon said she will ask Congress to put Vieques on the National Priority List for environmental cleanup.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Du vieques { February 4 2001 }
Navy leaves after bombing six decades { May 1 2003 }
Navy leaves vieques { May 1 2003 }
Sharpton hails navy leaving
Vieques activist released { October 7 2002 }
Vieques cheers navy exit { May 1 2003 }

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