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CNN Today

Protesters in Vieques Wait for Eviction

Aired May 3, 2000 - 2:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It still hasn't happened but dozens of protesters camped out on the tiny Puerto Rican island of Vieques are bracing for a forced evacuation by U.S. authorities. The Pentagon wants to reclaim the island as a bombing range, something the protesters have prevented for more than a year. Two Navy warships have been positioned off Vieques for a couple days, but there's no sign of when the eviction might take place.

CNN's Mike Boettcher is on the island today, joins on the telephone.

Mike, what, if anything, is going on?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Navy ships are no where to be seen, and haven't been seen most of the day. We have seen naval helicopters flying over. About once every three hours they come around, they circle around the 14 camps that are scattered in this bombing range; I assume to get a number count, see what's going on.

And what is going on here is there's a constant resupply of this camp, and more people arriving. As a matter of fact the bishop of the eastern part of Puerto Rico, Corrada del Rio, Bishop Corrada del Rio arrived with 10 priests and about an equal number of Catholic nuns. The bishop was very strong in a press conference, he said that the protesters will continue on here, he said the federal marshals can come and arrest them, but if they do there will be larger actions of civil disobedience on the mainland in Puerto Rico. He was very strong in that regard, that they will not stop this protest and the others involved in this protest will not stop until this base is turned back to the Puerto Ricans.

Also Congressman Luis Gutierrez is also here from Chicago. He was very strong, saying that these protesters have been very peaceful. He said it's going to be the president's responsibility if the marshals come in here and it becomes not so peaceful.

So at the present time people are keeping a wary eye to the horizon. But right now, with the bishop here and the congressman here, they think they're in a safe zone at least for now.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, live, Vieques, Puerto Rico.

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