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   Vol. 67/No. 46           December 29, 2003  
One of ‘Vieques 12’ gets 5 years in jail
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A federal judge in San Juan, Puerto Rico, sentenced Vieques activist José Pérez González to five years in prison, two years probation, and a fine of $10,000 December 11 for his participation in a May 1 celebration of the U.S. Navy’s departure from the Puerto Rican island.

This is the harshest sentence meted to one of the 12 activists from Vieques who have been convicted of charges ranging from trespassing to destruction of federal property stemming from the May 1 celebration. That night, hundreds of Vieques residents and demonstrators from mainland Puerto Rico entered the grounds of the abandoned military facilities at Camp García to celebrate the U.S. Navy’s departure from the island.

A sustained campaign by fishermen and other working people in Puerto Rico, and their supporters internationally, forced the Navy to finally leave the island in May last year after having occupied it for more than six decades. They used the island as a live bombing range and to conduct military exercises to prepare for imperialist invasions around the world.

The frame-up against the 12 activists is Washington’s latest move to victimize Puerto Rican anticolonial fighters and is aimed at undermining the victory in Vieques.

Dozens of supporters of the campaign to demand justice for the Vieques 12, as they are known, gathered in front of the federal court building after Pérez’s sentencing to condemn the judge’s decision.

“What happened in Vieques was a popular event, not only an action of 12 people,” Liana Morales, Pérez’s wife, told the press, “The judge went after only one person.”

After the sentencing, U.S. marshals escorted Pérez out of the court room, handcuffed and dressed in a prison jump suit, and took him back to the Guaynabo prison. His lawyer said Pérez will appeal the decision.

Pérez has been in prison since September 11 after he was found guilty on frame-up charges of conspiracy to destroy federal property and destruction of property through the use of fire. In addition to Pérez, nine of the Vieques 12 have received sentences ranging from one year of probation to one year in prison. The remaining two, José Vélez Acosta and José Montañez Sanes, are still awaiting sentencing.  
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