For the last three years the Center has been involved in representing Vieques fishermen and their supporters against charges arising out of demonstrations against the Navy’s use of that island and its adjacent water for ship-to-shore target practice.
Among those we have represented are Carlos Zenon, president of the Vieques Fishermens Association, and his lawyer Pedro Saade, who were tried, convicted and given the maximum sentence of six months for violating a Navy regulation restricting the use of the water around the island during target practice. CCR attorney represented the two on their appeal. The argument, made to the First Circuit, that they were improperly denied the opportunity to challenge the validity of the regulation in question, was accepted and the case was remanded for a hearing. The regulation permitting bombing practice, we argued, was a violation of law and Navy regulations because it was promulgated without regard to effect on the food flshing industry.
Discover y concerning the Navy’s actions with regard to the regulation and the area’s food fishing industry was ordered by the district court, and on the basis of that discovery and analyses of the Navy’ s internal regulations, a motion to dismiss the information against the two has been filed.
If the motion is not granted, the stage is set for an evidentiary hearing which will publicly shift the focus of the case away from a criminal trial to an inquiry into whether the Navy properly reviewed the potential environmental effects of its Vieques bombings.
Jose Antonio Lugo, Michael Ratner, Margaret Ratner, with Luis F. Camacho, Pedro Varela and Peter Berkowitz, Instituto Puertorriqeno de Derechos Civiles