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Vieques

Victor R. Quiñones Guerra


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Vieques or La Isla Nena is located in the Caribbean 10 miles (16 km) east of Puerto Rico. At 18.5 miles (30 km) in length by 6.2 miles (10 km) in width, this small island has only two main towns, Isabel Segunda and Esperanza, with a population of approximately 9,400. The island is one of 78 municipalities of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In the 1940s during World War II, the United States purchased and occupied two-thirds of the island for military use by the Navy. The occupied regions were divided into three main areas: the naval ammunition facility, Camp García (also known as the eastern maneuver area), and Atlantic fleet weapons training facility. Vieques was viewed as a unique and valued training site by officials of the US armed forces, allowing for training in air, land, and sea. Controversy was perpetuated among residents of Vieques due to the use of live shellfire and bombs. The presence of depleted uranium-coated shells raised concern among residents, who argued that live fire practices were causing the destruction of the environment and contaminating the air, water, and soil. Some regions were found to have high levels of radiation. Health problems also emerged as a result of decades of Navy occupation. Indicators showed an increment of infant mortality, death, and cancer rates that outranked rates in mainland Puerto Rico. However, scientists commissioned by the US ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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