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Inmates Going Back to Cuba
Updated 8:42 PM ET December 19, 1999
By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press Writer

ST. MARTINVILLE, La. (AP) - The Cuban detainees who surrendered peacefully after holding hostages at a jail for nearly a week will be sent back to Cuba, the State Department said Sunday. Five Cubans and one Bahamian gave up late Saturday at the St. Martin Parish jail, freeing the warden, a female guard and five female inmates. The standoff began Dec. 13 by inmates who demanded to be released from the south-central Louisiana jail and sent to another country. "We're gratified that the situation has been resolved in a peaceful manner," the State Department said in a statement read by a spokeswoman who asked not to be identified by name. "The detainees turned themselves in without harming hostages and in accordance with their request, we contacted the government of Cuba which has agreed to take these individuals back." The inmates were in federal custody Sunday while details for their return were being worked out. Two other Cuban detainees had surrendered Thursday. It was unclear how many inmates would be going to Cuba. "We believe this resolution is in the best interest of the United States and is consistent with our long-standing practice of removing deportable aliens to their country of origin," the State Department statement said. The Cubans were being held indefinitely in a state of legal limbo. Before the surrender, the U.S. government wouldn't release them because it considered them subject to deportation and the Cuban government would not take them back. There was no word on the agreement from Cuba. Government offices in Havana were closed Sunday and calls to the office of Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Gonzalez rang unanswered. Earlier Sunday, the warden said he wasn't seriously hurt during the ordeal but never doubted his captors' threats of violence. "When someone is holding a knife to your throat, you believe him," Warden Todd Louvierre said. He had a black eye and a welt on his cheek that he said he suffered when he was captured Dec. 13 while trying to radio for help. "Besides what you see on my face, they didn't do anything, and that's really nothing," Louvierre said at a news conference. The uprising began Monday when the inmates armed themselves with homemade knives and took the warden and three guards hostage while being escorted to an exercise area. One guard was released after about six hours. A second was released Thursday night. Two Cuban hostage-takers surrendered late Thursday, the day the five female inmates were taken hostage. The mother of one of the Cubans said she was assured Saturday that a deal had been reached. "They surrendered because they are going to Cuba," said Mercedes Villar, who had been credited by FBI spokesman Charles Mathews with persuading her son, Roberto Villar-Gana, and the others to give up. Ruby Feria, director of Mothers for Freedom, a Cuban support group in Miami, was asked if the agreement could encourage other inmates to take hostages. She replied: "I think they realize that creating such a problem again will only bring criminal charges and worsen their situation." Insistence by the hostage takers' relatives that Fidel Castro had agreed to let the men return to Cuba came as the Cuban president pressures the U.S. government to return a 6-year-old Cuban refugee. The boy was rescued off the Florida coast last month after his mother drowned while trying to reach the United States. The boy's father, who stayed in Cuba, wants the child returned but relatives in the United States are resisting.

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Army Sends Christmas Cards to Guerrillas
Updated 9:00 AM ET December 20, 1999

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Taking the old adage of "peace on earth and good will toward men" to heart, the Colombian army is sending Christmas cards this year to the communist guerrillas it has been battling for decades. "Feliz Navidad, Prospero ano, guerrillero!" (Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year, guerrilla!) reads the greeting in 100,000 cards the army began sending out to their archenemies on Sunday. "Make your family happy and share the season's joys with them. Desert your (rebel) unit and enjoy your freedom ... Long live freedom! Long live Christmas!" continues the message, signed simply "The National Army." The army sent out the festive season weapon after a week of heavy fighting, in which armed forces chiefs said some 220 combatants including soldiers and guerrillas died. President Andres Pastrana has called on all Colombia's warring factions to declare a month-long Christmas truce. But nobody ever suspected the army, with one of the worst human rights records in Latin America, to turn its back on bombs and bullets and launch a charm offensive. Spokeswoman Capt. Ana Cecilia Fajardo said the army was sending the cards to guerrilla units, their families and suspected leftist sympathizers in rebel-held territories across Colombia. The card depicts a peasant outside his shack tending to his cattle under a radiant star. It is the first time in the three-decade-old war, which has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the past 10 years, that the army has sent Christmas greetings to its bitterest rivals. It is, however, part of an on-going effort to persuade guerrillas to desert, with the promise of lenient jail terms or complete pardons and a cash payment in return for handing in weaponry. "Perhaps Victor G. will deliver Christmas cards to 'Sureshot' and 'Mono Jojoy' personally," Fajardo quipped, referring to government peace commissioner Victor Ricardo and the top FARC chieftains.
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What's race?
At genetic level, ethnicity is complicated and elusive
Mercury News Staff Writer

To many, race is simply a matter of the physical traits that make whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians and American Indians look different from one another.
But to scientists, the matter is far more complicated. Researchers have yet to find genes that clearly define a race.
This dilemma underlies the debate over whether testing of prescription drugs should focus more on race and ethnicity. On one side is the longstanding view that humans are so similar that there's little to be gained by categorizing them for medical research. On the other is a growing sense that some kind of grouping would help and race is the best we have.
``There is tremendous confusion among the public as well as scientists about what race really means,'' says Dr. Brian Smedley, a senior program officer at the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
Modern-day America divides itself into white, black, Asian, American Indian and Hispanic -- categories that coalesced 22 years ago in the wake of the civil rights movement. The federal Office of Management and Budget used appearance as its main criterion, stating at the outset that its approach was not based on scientific principle. It outlined four races and deemed ``Hispanic'' an ``ethnicity'' that encompassed people of any race from Latin America. Europeans and Arabs were lumped together under the category ``white.'' People from more than 50 far-flung countries came under the category of Asian/Pacific Islander.
Despite their somewhat arbitrary origins, these groupings are often used as the standard in medical research. The National Institutes of Health, which requires government-funded research to include minorities as test subjects, uses these categories, as do the Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
But these broad categories have proven confusing when it comes to specific health care issues. For instance, Asians as a whole are at lower risk for breast cancer than whites and blacks but an Asian subgroup, Native Hawaiians, is at higher risk.
``Racial categories carry tremendous import in the social, political and historical realms but in scientific research they cloud the picture more than they offer insight,'' Smedley says.
Studies show that every human shares 99.99 percent of his or her genetic material -- DNA, the human blueprint -- with other humans. Certain genes may be much more common in one ethnic group than another, but no genes appear to be exclusive to one group.
Many scientists now believe that genes are more likely to be similar among people whose ancestors lived in the same part of the world than among those who share superficial characteristics like skin color and eye shape. Anthropologists and geneticists theorize that the Earth's contrasting environments led to small but important genetic differentiation. This could explain why some ethnic groups have been found to be more susceptible to certain diseases -- Ashkenazi Jews to Tay Sachs, Greeks to Beta Thalassemia, blacks to sickle cell disease, Europeans to cystic fibrosis.
The geographic approach might also help explain why people from very different parts of the world turn out to metabolize certain drugs in a similar way. The ancestors of both black Americans and Mediterraneans lived in malaria-endemic areas and people in those groups today are more likely than others to react badly to quinine, a common treatment for malaria. Scientists now think that genetic variation may have offered protection from the disease but also made quinines hard to tolerate.
On the strength of such evidence, some scientific organizations such as the prestigious Institute of Medicine are calling for new categories that go beyond ``race'' and geography. They favor ``ethnic origin,'' which would also encompass elements of lifestyle, such as diet and physical activity.
But other scientists argue that ethnic origin, even though it is narrower, may prove just as difficult to define scientifically.

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AT&T extends service to Spanish-speaking users

By Reuters
Special to CNET News.com
December 15, 1999, 9:55 a.m. PT

NEW YORK-AT&T today launched a Spanish-language version of its WorldNet Internet service, with content provided by StarMedia Network, to target the fast-growing Latino Net market in the United States.
AT&T's new WorldNet en Espanol service offers new and existing AT&T WorldNet Service members customer service and Internet content in Spanish.
Once online, customers will be guided on the Internet through a co-branded site provided by StarMedia, a leading online community for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking customers throughout the world.
"The Internet is becoming the communications channel of choice, so it makes sense that we would want to create a service that's easy to use for Spanish-speaking consumers," said Fernando Hernandez, AT&T's International Consumer Services director.
AT&T cited research from Strategy Research, which estimated that the number of Latinos in the United States will grow to 42 million by 2005 from 34 million in 1999. There are about 7 million U.S. Latino Internet users, according to Internet research firm eMarketer.
AT&T WorldNet en Espanol will feature chat rooms, email, bulletin boards, instant messaging, classified ads and games. Subscribers also will be able to access information on topics including sports, finance, technology, entertainment and travel.
Price plans will vary. Customers who want AT&T's long distance, local toll and any one of AT&T's international calling plans-on a combined bill-can receive 150 hours of Internet access for $14.95 a month. Internet access alone costs $19.95 a month for 150 hours and $21.95 for unlimited Internet access.
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by Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez


As the year 2000 fast approaches, we've been dealing with the harsh
realities of this world, which haven't given us much time to speculate on
millenarian matters.
Just this week, 13 Mexican citizen migrant workers were killed on a
New Mexico Highway. The week before, 11 Cuban citizens were drowned off the
coast of Florida. In Seattle, thousands of besieged protesters foiled the
plans of the globe's multibillionaires, World Trade Organization, to
consolidate their power over the world's masses. Meanwhile, the Mars probe

In both human tragedies, the dead were referred to as illegal
aliens, which prompted us to wonder whether there will be such a category in
the year 3000. Then, the principal question people will ponder is not
whether there is life on Mars, but whether there is life on Earth. By then,
our descendants will most likely be living on different planets, not by
choice, but possibly because of an environmental holocaust.
In “The Timetables of History,” Bernard Grun notes that 1,000 years
ago, there was widespread fear of “the last judgment,” that Leif Eriksson
”discovered” America, that several attempts were made to fly and that the
Chinese perfected their invention of gunpowder. It also says that potatoes
and corn were being planted in Peru. In reality, corn was being planted at
least 7,000 years ago in Meso America.
A thousand years ago, our Meso-American ancestors were most likely
somewhere in the current U.S. Southwest, preparing to move southward. At
that time, people everywhere were also moving to greener pastures. A
thousand years of advanced warfare and many millions of deaths later
convinces us that what humanity found instead were many rivers of blood.
Despite world governments possessing thousands of nuclear warheads,
few people fear that the world will end through nuclear warfare. More people
fear an accidental nuclear holocaust, triggered by things such as a Y2K
meltdown. Or many fear that the planet will become uninhabitable due to
environmental degradation.
Which brings us to the year 3000. We can't envision humans in the
future being subjected to the kinds of exploitation that led to the
aforementioned deaths in Florida and New Mexico or that take place along the
U.S./Mexico border year round. We can't envision an enlightened society
divided into “hunter” and “hunted” populations. But the question, of course,
is not whether we can envision a world like this, but whether we will export
this practice to future worlds, to other planets?
When we condemn current worldwide governmental policies that place
more importance on and grant more freedoms to transnational corporations,
goods or capital than on human beings, we're not thinking about just 2000,
but of the future of humanity. Unless the debate over immigration makes a
radical shift, it's not inconceivable that just as Europeans debated whether
”Indians” were human some 500 years ago, a worldwide business-driven debate
may soon ensue as to what constitutes a citizen, or a “legal” human being,
with subsequent narrower definitions.

We think most people would like to live in a future without borders
and legal distinctions between human beings. Yet, days before 2000, we're
still being subjected to small minds who insist on criminalizing human
beings—and subjecting them to dangerous perils—for the simple act of
trying to survive, this while facilitating the worldwide exploitation of
peoples and the environment.
It's hard to imagine that enlightened human beings would export
these ideas to future worlds. But unless it's stopped here and now, we can
envision not simply a bracero (guest worker) nation/world—but a bracero
universe in which specially bred and designated human beings are transported
to other worlds for the profit of rich interplanetary corporations.
When we think of the third millennium, we don't think of the wonders
of space-age technology, but rather about human relations and our
relationship to Earth and all living things. We firmly believe that what we
do today will shape how we live a thousand years from now.
Elders have taught us that our ancestors have become the Earth
itself. Who will walk among us a thousand years from now and remember that
in our deaths, we became the Earth itself? Will they say that their
ancestors are buried in a faraway place where they can no longer be, a place
where they can no longer breathe? Perhaps their children too will one day
ask who they are and where they came from.
* Contributions are being collected to assist the families of the victims and
survivors of the New Mexico tradgedy. Contributions are being accepted at
Bank of America (it's anational bank) on behalf of Catholic Social Services
Victims Fund. For more info, contact Leon Anchondo at CSS at 505-259-5848.

Gonzales & Rodriguez can be contacted at PO BOX 7905 Albq NM 87194-7905,
505-242-7282 or XColumn@aol.com

Refugio I. Rochin
Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives
Arts & Industries Bldg. Room 1465
900 Jefferson Drive, S.W., 20560

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Residents sickened by pesticide cloud; ag officials insider changing rules

CHRISTINE HANLEY, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Breaking News Sections

(12-07) 15:36 PST EARLIMART, Calif. (AP) -- Sickened by a mysterious
stench that wafted through this tiny Central Valley community, two dozen
people sat in a grassy school athletic field on a chilly evening and
waited for emergency crews to decide what to do.

At the time, no one really knew for sure what was causing their eyes to
water, lungs to burn, stomachs to retch. Amid the chaos, as a
precaution, a decontamination line was ordered.

Lupe Baeza, a 56-year-old grandmother, was first to be sent through. One
by one, she and the others, most of them women, were squirted down with
hoses by male Hazmat workers in masks and green splash suits.

"They said to take off all my clothes. I left my underwear on. I said
'I'm not taking them off,"" she said, recalling how her protest was in
vain, as a paramedic pulled them off for her. "He said I had to."

Three weeks later, Baeza and the others remain humiliated by the way
they were treated, frightened by their exposure to what turned out to be
a cancer-causing soil fumigant and saddled with thousands of dollars in
medical bills they can't afford.

On Wednesday, a grassroots committee of locals plan to present the
Tulare County's Agriculture Commissioner and Board of Supervisors with
complaints from at least 156 residents of the town about illnesses
believed to be related their exposure on Nov. 13.

They're demanding a more organized evacuation system, reimbursement for
ambulance and hospital expenses and, most importantly, stricter
pesticide regulations and air monitoring standards.

Pesticide watchdogs say it is just one more case of how the interests of
farmers are routinely put before the safety of workers-until
accidents occur. Even then, some of these critics say, the people in
charge throw up their hands.

"Are we just going to wait until there's a mass poisoning in every
county before this is taken care of across the state?" said Justin
Rubin of the Pesticide Watch in Fresno.

"If something like this happened in Berkeley or Sacramento, to people
who vote or ordinary middle-class citizens, legislators would be
tripping over themselves to get something done about it," said Dr.
Marion Moses of the Pesticide Education Center in San Francisco. "It's
very cheap to poison people. And the people most vulnerable are poor
farmworkers, many who don't speak English."

Most of the 3,000 or so residents of Earlimart are Hispanic or Filipino.
Some are transient. Nearly all earn their living picking grapes or
pruning vines in the thousands of acres spreading out around them.

As the smell drifted over the town that Saturday afternoon, invading
soccer games and barbecues, a fumigant known by the trade name Sectagon
42 was being applied to a 75-acre potato field owned by Vignolo Farms. A
total of 3,150 gallons was scheduled to be applied through the
irrigation system, according to Dave German, a branch manager for
Wilbur-Ellis Co., which was hired to do the job.

Sectagon 42 contains the compound Metam Sodium, a fumigant which is on
the state's list of cancer-causing pesticides and is fast becoming an
alternative for methyl bromide, a highly toxic fumigant prized by
farmers but being phased out worldwide because of its unhealthy side

From 1991 to 1998, use of Metam Sodium jumped from about 5 million
pounds statewide to more than 15 million pounds. Restrictions are
tightest in a few counties where similar accidents were reported.

Local agriculture officials, who have lead investigative authority, say
the company was following county regulations: meeting the per-acre
ratio, posting warning signs and staying within a required 500-foot
buffer zone.

Still, the local officials say it appears as if the fumes given off by
Metam Sodium-a gas formally known as methylisothiocyanate-were
released into the air as the pesticide was being applied. "Dirty
socks," said James Dunham, describing the smell that prompted him to
put on his coat and wait for his wife to return to their doublewide
trailer that faces nothing but farmland on the southeast edge of town.

"We have to get out of here," he told Nita Dunham when she got home.

In a neighborhood not far way, where the wood-frame and stucco houses
sit nearly wall-to-wall along five blocks, most of the families were at

"Rotten eggs. Really rotten eggs," said Lucy Huizar, who was playing
poker with some friends and got her first whiff when she stepped outside
to buy cigarettes. "It was like nothing I had ever smelled before."

Firefighters who responded to a 911 call about a possible propane leak
realized once they arrived that something else was in the air. They just
didn't know what it was. Sheriff's deputies went knocking on doors and
evacuated about 150 people, telling them to get out of the area or go to
the track at the middle school. The Dunhams, who are retired and have
health problems, waited at the school for about 40 minutes before they
drove themselves to Delano Hospital.

"It was complete chaos," Mrs. Dunham said.

Teresa DeAnda avoided it, piling three kids, two uncles and two dogs in
the family van and driving south to her daughter's home.

"We were scared," she said.

With no other place to go, Huizar, a single mom, took three of her kids
to the school and waited-and waited. Because of the contamination
potential, they weren't allowed inside. Others, including babies as
young as 2-months-old, soon joined her on the football field. Some were
vomiting. Others complained of headaches, dizziness, stinging eyes,
breathing problems.

The confusion over the source of the smell left ambulance workers
calling for a decontamination line, since they can't carry contaminated
passengers either. However, a line could not be set up until the nearest
Hazmat crews arrived, and they were en route from Visalia and
Bakersfield, miles and miles away.

"You're talking about a good delay," said Tulare County Fire Capt.
Patricia Granillo, who was at the scene.

By the time Hazmat teams arrived and set up, it was about 9 p.m. Crew
members donned masks and green splash suits, squirting water through
special nozzles that kept the pressure low as the people passed through
the line. Though plastic tarps were held up on each side, Huizar and the
others who were decontaminated, most of them women, said they had to
strip down in an area that was within the view of a crowd of at least
100 emergency personnel, TV crews and other spectators.

"It felt like we were raped," said Huizar, 42, reenacting how she was
told to lift up her arms and turn in circles as she walked down the

Firefighters and local ag officials say the possible consequences
outweighed privacy issues at that point.

"You try to give them as much privacy as possible. I know some people
were humiliated. But it's life or death sometimes," Ms. Granillo said.
"Prior to them being washed down, we didn't know what the chemical was.
It was just standard operating procedure."

It is also standard operating procedure that Hazmat crews have CD-Roms
on hand for such situations. If they don't, they are instructed to get
in touch with local ag officials, who reached the potato field by 7:30
p.m. that night. At the time, the applicator was still at the site and
was interviewed.

Both should have been aware of the contents of Sectagon 42, according to
Glenn Brank, a spokesman for the state Department of Pesticide
Regulation. In any case, his agency is "disturbed" by the manner in
which the people were decontaminated.

"Their standard training is to emphasize that you're supposed to take
people's feelings into account, unless it's an absolute life or death
situation-let's say, if a person is not breathing."

One of the main reasons the state agency is concerned is that some
people did not seek immediate treatment "because they didn't want to be
stripped down and hosed down," Brank said.

If a breakdown in communication between local ag officials and Hazmat
crews was to blame, it was corrected by the time Huizar and the others
arrived at various hospitals-and were sent home shortly after, told
they were exposed to a gas that is nothing more than an irritant.

Moses disputes that-she says even the fumes of Metam Sodium are a
toxin capable of disrupting reproductive systems.

The treatment didn't come cheap. Ambulance rides cost $885 for Huizar
and each of her three kids. The doctor's advice cost nearly $200 apiece.

"Get rest, lots of fluids and avoid re-exposure," their bills said.

For more information on the Farm Worker Movement visit our web site at
http://www.ufw.org and/or subscribe to the Farm Worker Movement list serve
by sending an e-mail to UFW-subscribe@topica.com.
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U.S. Jury Clears Five Exiles in Castro Murder Plot
By John Marino

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Wednesday found five Cuban exiles, including a leader of a powerful Miami-based anti-Castro group, not guilty of plotting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. The case was the first time the U.S. Justice Department charged anyone with plotting to kill Castro, an arch foe of the United States since his 1959 revolution.
U.S. authorities alleged the men-some of whom were captured off Puerto Rico on a boat loaded with military gear including sniper rifles-wanted to murder the communist leader at a 1997 Ibero-American summit on Venezuela's Margarita Island.
The defense argued the men were peaceful protesters and the weapons were to be used for protection against Cuban authorities.
The U.S. District Court jury deliberated for eight hours over two days before finding Angel Alfonso, 59, Angel Hernandez Rojo, 62, Francisco Secundino Cordova, 51, Jose Rodriguez Sosa, 59, and Jose Antonio Llama, 67, not guilty on all counts.
The five were among seven stalwarts of the U.S. anti-Castro movement charged with conspiracy to commit murder and weapons violations. Charges against one of the men were dismissed last week and another was too sick to stand trial.
The case dated back Oct. 27, 1997, when four men-Alfonso, Hernandez, Secundino and Juan Bautista Marquez, 62
were taken into custody aboard a cabin cruiser, La Esperanza, off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

A subsequent indictment named Alfredo Domingo Otero, 68, Jose Rodriguez Sosa, 59, and Llama, the boat's owner and an executive board member of the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, a leading architect of hard-line U.S. policy toward communist-ruled Cuba.
The men on La Esperanza first raised the suspicions of U.S. authorities when they said they were on a fishing trip and had made the 900-mile voyage from Miami in one day.
After hauling the vessel into port, the U.S. Coast Guard found high-powered rifles, ammunition, night-scopes, goggles, fatigues and high-tech communications gear.
All the defendants faced charges of conspiracy to assassinate an internationally protected person and others related to the use of a vessel in carrying out that crime.
The three defendants aboard the boat on Oct. 27 who were on trial also faced charges of weapons smuggling and lying to authorities.
Over the two-week trial, prosecutors called in expert witnesses to try to persuade the jury of eight women and four men that the middle-aged defendants had plotted to kill the Cuban leader.
But one defense witness, Lazaro Betancourt, a member of Castro's security detail who defected in April, testified security was so tight on Margarita that the men could not possibly have carried out the assassination. Other defense witnesses were used to support the theory the men were demonstrators on their way to protest against Castro and rescue defectors.
When the prosecution rested last week, U.S. District Judge Hector Laffitte dismissed charges against Otero as well as Nautical Sports, Inc., a company belonging to Llamas. Bautista was too ill to stand trial. The United States has long appeared to ignore any attempts against Castro mounted by militant exiles but the Margarita case signals a tougher policy against them.
Cuba claimed in July the United States tried to assassinate Castro no fewer than 637 times in the past 40 years, including such CIA plots as sending him poisoned cigars.
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Protesting U.S. Navy Presence in Vieques, Puerto Rico a joint statement
by Todo Nueva York con Vieques
(All New York with Vieques), Todo El Barrio con Vieques (All of East Harlem with Vieques), the Vieques Support Campaign, and the David Sanes Rodríguez Brigade

On the 58th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a group of Puerto Ricans and their supporters, led by former world boxing champion and journalist José "Chequi" Torres, have engaged in an act of civil disobedience at the United Nations in solidarity with the struggle of Puerto Rico for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from the island of Vieques. Human rights activist and Internationally-acclaimed performer Ruben Blades, who was not part of the civil disobedience action, acted as spokesman for the group with the media. This group, named after the Puerto Rican civilian killed on April 19, 1999 by U.S. bombs on Vieques, the David Sanes Rodríguez Brigade, took this action to denounce the 60 years of infamy the people of Vieques have had to endure at the hands of the U.S. Navy. Our message to the people of the United States is that during Pearl Harbor you didn't like being bombed and today the Puerto Rican people also do not like being bombed, especially by the U.S. Navy.
We chose the United Nations to demand that the Security Council, the Committee on Decolonization and the Committee on Human Rights exercise their international jurisdiction over the colonial status of Puerto Rico. In 1941, the United State Navy expropriated over two-thirds of the land of Vieques to use it for amphibious landings, munitions storage, and ship- and air-to-land bombings. The people of Vieques have suffered through contamination of napalm and uranium tipped shells, the presence of thousands of unexploded bombs on their island and in its waters, and the broken promises of the U.S. Navy to protect the environment and the economy of their island. These are violations of international law and human rights that must be investigated immediately by the United Nations.
But even within the context of U.S. control over Puerto Rico the situation in Vieques is unacceptable. Since 1917, when the U.S. Congress unilaterally imposed U.S. citizenship on the people of Puerto Rico, it has been clear that this is a second class citizenship. For the close to 10,000 residents of Vieques, the bombings by the U.S. Navy against its own citizens are not only contradictory but are unconscionable and unacceptable. This situation should be seen as insulting to all U.S. citizens, whether they are residents of Puerto Rico, North Carolina, California, Minnesota, Georgia or any other part of the United States.
The David Sanes Rodríguez Brigade undertook this act of civil disobedience on Pearl Harbor Day in deep respect for the thousands who have died in U.S. wars. Puerto Ricans have died in disproportionate numbers in U.S. wars in this century as U.S. citizens. The demand for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques is made in recognition of the many sacrifices that the people of Puerto Rico have made for the United States in its military.
The David Sanes Rodríguez Brigade undertook this modest action in recognition and support of the long history of resistance against the U.S. Navy presence in Vieques. We do this in recognition of the murder of Angel Rodríguez Cristobal in 1979 in a federal penitentiary in Tallahassee, Florida at the hands of the CIA for his act of civil disobedience, a "beach-in" in Vieques against the U.S. Navy's presence.
The David Sanes Rodríguez Brigade engaged in this act of civil disobedience to bring attention to the sacrifices made by many who are standing up to the U.S. Navy today on the beaches of Vieques. The presence of people like Ruben Berrios, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) and member of the Senate of Puerto Rico, and others who at present risk their liberty and lives by having taken their protest to the beaches of Vieques for months, puts them in the front line of resistance. They face the constant threat of federal imprisonment for their actions of conscience, with which we are in solidarity.
Today's act of civil disobedience to protest the U.S. Navy's presence in Vieques is part of an escalating movement in Puerto Rico, the United States and the world. This is an act that lets the 4 million people of Puerto Rico know that the 3 million Puerto Ricans in the United States and our friends are in solidarity with their struggle, which is also our struggle for justice for Puerto Rico.
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New York, NY, November 30, 1999 - Six-time Grammy winner Jose Feliciano and renowned Nuevo Latino chef Douglas Rodriguez joined the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Hispanic advocacy organization in the United States, to announce A SU SALUD ¡Viva Mas, Viva Mejor!, a new type 2 diabetes education initiative promoting health and well-being in the Hispanic community.
Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed and untreated in the Hispanic community. At least one out of every ten Hispanic adults has diabetes, however, recent studies indicate it may be as high as one out of every six. Many Hispanics currently treated for diabetes continue to have excessively high blood sugar, which can lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as blindness, kidney disease and amputations. For some, adding additional medication or changing cooking habits can help reduce the risk of these complications.
"I have had type 2 diabetes for three years, and have learned that it doesn't have to be a burden to me and my family. Treatments are available that can help lower blood sugar and manage weight," said Jose Feliciano, who made public for the first time that he has diabetes as he announced the launch of the program. "I am able to successfully manage my condition through taking my medication, eating right and staying active."
"Jose Feliciano is one of nearly two million Hispanics with diabetes," said NCLR President Raul Yzaguirre. "Unfortunately, due to a lack of health insurance and access to affordable health care the disease all too frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated in the Hispanic community, often leading to complications such as blindness, kidney and heart disease and amputations."
The cornerstone of ¡Viva Mas, Viva Mejor! is a new 6-part serial print novela created especially for the program. Entitled La Familia, it is set in a family-run restaurant and deals with conflicts that occur between Miguel, the family patriarch, and his son Enrique, who is trying to pursue his dream as a musician. When Miguel is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he is ultimately helped by Jose Feliciano (who appears in the novela) to both understand his disease and appreciate his son's talent.
La Familia will appear in Spanish-language newspapers in 10 major Hispanic markets across the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Miami, and Washington, DC. The novela offers a free brochure containing recipes, cooking and nutrition tips, such as a healthy way to prepare beans. The free brochure can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-877-625-4410 between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Recognizing the significant role of food in the Hispanic culture, ¡Viva Mas, Viva Mejor! emphasizes that Hispanic diabetics can cook the foods they love without losing traditional flavor and appeal. Renowned Nuevo Latino chef and food author Douglas Rodriguez worked with Luby Garza, a diabetes nutrition consultant for the Texas Department of Health, to adapt familiar Latino favorites recipes for the diabetic diet. A complete diabetes-friendly holiday menu, including Chef Rodriguez's recipe for Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Vinegar Marinade and others are included in the program's free brochure.
"Without diagnosis, people with diabetes can't make the changes that will help them stay healthy, such as changing their eating habits or taking medication," said endocrinologist Jaime Davidson, MD. "We hope this culturally-sensitive program will help prevent and manage this disease." A SU SALUD ¡Viva Mas, Viva Mejor! is supported by an educational grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb.
National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, created A SU SALUD ¡Viva Mas, Viva Mejor! as part of its National Latino Diabetes Initiative. NCLR annually serves over three million Hispanics through a formal network of "affiliates" - 240 Hispanic community-based organizations that together serve 39 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
For more information about NCLR and its programs, call Sandra Zacarias at

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