Brief Notes for Tourists Coming
Below we include an article about Vieques from the NY Times.
Among the many "tourism" articles, this one at least
mentions the damages caused by the US Navy and the consequences
of decades of bombing and other military practices on our environment.
("...The Navy left behind toxic asbestos, lead, mercury,
nitrates and depleted uranium — not to mention toxic
feelings among some locals...")
The CRDV is not opposed to tourism nor to articles on the
topic. In fact, we recognize tourism as a crucial element in
the future social-economic development of the island. What
is unacceptable, however, is that the majority of the articles
principally support hotels and other tourist businesses in
foreign hands here. Also, most of the texts that promote Vieques
tourism describe our island as a 'paradise', a great 'reserve'
or protected zone', under the care of agencies like the Federal
Fish and Wildlife Service. Actually, just like under military
control, the major part of the lands now in the hands of FWS
are restricted due to dangers from unexploded ordnance. And
another part of Vieques historic reality is that the FWS and
the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, both charged with
conserving and decontamination Vieques, were accomplices in
its destruction: neither the FWS nor the EPA took any action
whatsoever during the decades the US Navy, arms manufacturers
and foreign militaries invited by the US Navy, launched millions
of pounds of explosives from jets, ships, tanks, helicopters,
bazookas, mortars and used every type of conventional weapon,
practiced for chemical warfare and fired radioactive rounds
on Vieques (depleted uranium).
Traveling to Vieques implies something of a responsibility:
at the least, visitors should know something about these historic
realities of our island.
We do not at all wish to create an environment of fear that
could have a negative impact on tourism. We want tourists to
come to Vieques. We also want tourists to know about the destruction
caused by the military practices and the horrid effects this
has had on the environment and the health of our families.
When we talk about high levels of cancer and other illnesses
related to military toxics, this is not to scare the tourists.
have to do with long term exposure, over years, by our people,
to heavy metals and other dangerous elements left from military
No tourists are gonna get sick from this contamination during
a vacation of days or weeks... unless they inhale some uranium
oxide or step on an unexploded bomb walking around the east
end or while diving, etc. Generally, tourists have nothing
to fear in terms of health.. as long as they control intake
of Medalla (beer) and Piña Coladas.
But it is very important that tourists who visit us have the
opportunity to know the horrors of half century of military
presence and activity on Vieques; the socio-economic crisis
produced by Navy expropriations in the 1940's; violence against
women from sailors on leave during the Korean and Vietnam was,
and more recently; the death of Mapepe Christian, Vieques shop
owner kicked to death by drunken marines in Destino en 1952,
is a historic point visitors to Vieques should know to understand
a bit more the collective mentality of our community and to
have the opportunity to arrive here with humility before delighting
in our beautiful beaches.
In addition to the glamorous articles in tourism magazines
and adds from hotels and travel agencies, Vieques has a long
history of struggle and resistance that could add a very interesting
element in the preparations for a visit to our 'paradise'.
COMITE PRO RESCATE Y DESARROLLO DE VIEQUES
Exploding the Explosives
Long Time Clean up for Vieques
||A combination coffee table book and guide
containing more than 150 color photographs described by
Roberto Rabin, curator of the Vieques Museum, Conde de
Mirasol, as “graphic, mysterious and beautiful.” It
is also a guide to the beaches, towns and places of interest
on the island including the famous Bioluminescent Bay. Click
for more information
||Before Vieques became a cause celebre
for Al Sharpton, Edward James Olmos, Bobby Kennedy Jr,
et el, there was USMAÍL...Now for the first time
USMAÍL is appearing in an English-language edition
making what is considered a Puerto Rican literary classic
available to a wider audience of English readers...San
Juan Star. Click
for more information