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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 01:12 GMT
Tough-talking governor sworn in
Governor Sila Calderon
Sila Caldeorn waves to crowds from the balcony of the governor's mansion
Puerto Rico's first woman governor, Sila Calderon, has been sworn in with a promise that she will seek greater autonomy from the United States.

Speaking before thousands of cheering supporters, Ms Calderon - former mayor of the capital, San Juan - called for an immediate halt to training by the US Navy on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Sixty years of menace to the health and security of our countrymen is unacceptable for any civilised and peaceful society

Governor Sila Calderon
She said the bombing exercises put the health and safety of local residents at risk and was unacceptable.

Correspondents say Ms Calderon's inauguration, coinciding with the start of George W Bush's presidency in the US, could lead to a more strained relationship between the two governments.

'Unacceptable menace'

Ms Calderon's victory in the November elections has been interpreted as a rejection of former Governor Pedro Rossello's agreement with Washington which would delay any US Navy withdrawal from Vieques until 2003.

Viques protests
The Vieques issue has strained US-Perto Rico relations
Ms Calderon says the Navy should leave now.

"The people of Puerto Rico want an immediate halt to the naval exercises."

"Sixty years of menace to the health and security of our countrymen is unacceptable for any civilised and peaceful society," she said in her inaugural address.

Resentment over Vieques have led to two years of widespread anti-US protests, after a stray bomb killed a civilian guard.

Greater powers

Ms Calderon also says she will seek greater powers for the island, saying it needs to preserve its heritage.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US since 1952, but its residents have rejected former governor Pedro Rossello's efforts to become the 51st US state.

Ms Calderon's Popular Democratic Party (PDP) favours maintaining the current commonwealth.

Under its singular status, Puerto Ricans serve in the US armed forces, but cannot vote for president and have restricted voting powers in Congress. Similarly, they are US citizens, but do not pay federal taxes.

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See also:

09 May 00 | Americas
US resumes Puerto Rico bombing
04 May 00 | Americas
Arrests at US naval base
20 Oct 99 | Americas
Puerto Rico stands up to US
03 Aug 99 | Americas
US navy takes blame for killing
13 Nov 98 | Crossing Continents
The Puerto Rican paradox
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