Experiments with Truth: Analysis

Puerto Rico struggles 10 years after activists expel U.S. navy

On the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, thousands are commemorating the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Navy stopped using their home as a bombing range. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience but the island continues to suffer. At the current cleanup rate, the Navy says, it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. A fishermen recently discovered a giant unexploded bomb underwater. The island of about 10,000 people also lacks a hospital to treat illnesses such as asthma and cancer that may be attributed to the military’s former bombing activity. “We believe the military is really not interested in cleaning up Vieques and rather interested in continuing to punish Vieques for having thrown the U.S. Navy out in 2003,” says Robert Rabin  of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. “This is a process that we believe is happening with no real supervision, no genuine community participation.” We also speak to Rep. José Serrano of New York, a native Puerto Rican.

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