Vieques ferry: Ceiba Vieques — Puerto Rico Ferry anchored by Hornblower
2021 Vieques Passenger Ferry Guide
2021 Vieques Passenger Ferry Guide
Ferry schedule, trips, & travel information to make getting to Vieques by ferry a breeze!
**3/14/2021 – Updated COVID-19 Procedures: Starting March 14th, tourists and visitors will be allowed on the passenger ferry to/from Vieques with a negative PCR COVID-19 test (taken no less than 72 hours prior to departure). There are still capacity restrictions, so therefore there are only a very limited number of tickets for tourists and visitors. All tickets must be pre-purchased at www.porferry.com, there will not be any tickets available for purchase in person at the terminal. Vieques residents still have priority over tourists and visitors and you may get bumped off onto the next ferry if it is full. Only dedicated passenger ferries will allow tourists, cargo and other ferries will be for local Vieques residents only. Please contact Maritime Transportation Authority or Porferry. com for the most updates rules & schedules**
Whether you’re visiting the island of Vieques for a day trip or a full week, the ferry is an affordable option. While it is not as reliable as flying, with some planning it can be done smoothly. We have included all the tips and information on this page to make your experience traveling to Vieques by ferry as seamless as possible! We are excited to inform you that service to the offshore islands of Vieques just got a little easier with two new passenger fast ferries added to the fleet. For years the Fajardo ferry was a poor experience for both tourists and residents of the island. Finally, in October 2018, the long awaited “short route” from Ceiba to Vieques began. The government is working on improving all aspects of ferry transportation, facilities at the terminal are a work in progress but fully functional. Passenger and Cargo ferry is available from the municipality of Ceiba to the offshore islands of Vieques & Culebra. On this page you will find information on ferry rates and schedules, travel tips, how to make reservations, contact information, and more FAQ’s.
The ferry schedule changes often (due to weather, holidays, maintenance, break downs etc). Please check the official ferry page for the daily itinerary.
We do our best to keep this guide up to date, but please always check the official ferry page for the most up to date schedule. Use this as a general guide, get there early or by mid-day to secure a ticket to the islands to avoid frustrations. You can purchase tickets online or in-person at the ferry terminal ticket window. The ticket window opens 1 hr before each scheduled trip, so we suggest getting there on time to secure your reservation!
You can always try to call 787-497-7740 directly for the latest ferry schedule & ticket information.
Booking Tip: You can now reserve tickets online at www.porferry.com. Only 20% of the tickets are made available to book online, so even if the dates look like they are sold out, there is still a chance for you to purchase a ticket at the ferry terminal.
Residents & Visitors – $2.00 one way
Ages: 3 – 11 and 60 – 74 – $1.00 one way
Infants ages 0-2 & Adults ages 75+ – Free
Cargo ferry fee: $28 one way.
- Give yourself at least 2 hours to get to Ceiba if you’re driving from San Juan to be safe especially if you’re driving during high traffic times.
- High Season is from December to April and summers when Puerto Ricans from the mainland head to the offshore islands for day trips. Holiday weekends are really busy, get here early just in case you have to wait for the next departure time. Have the airlines phone numbers / smartphone ready just in case you need to reserve a flight from Ceiba Airport.
- If you can’t get on the ferry or don’t wish to wait you can drive to nearby Ceiba Airport and catch a flight to Vieques. Be sure to call for availability of flights and schedules. Be sure to read the Vieques Flights Guide.
Pros of Traveling by Ferry to Vieques
- For those that wish to travel to Vieques but don’t want the expense of flights to the Vieques Airport, the ferry is a great option to save on your vacation expenses.
- Ride is short and scenic.
- Great way to travel with a group.
- You can now reserve your ticket online at www.porferry.com
Cons of Traveling by Ferry to Vieques
- Traveling by ferry requires more planning and at times patience, however if weather is right and all ferry boats are in good working condition, you should not have any problems.
- If you’re a tourist, residents of Vieques get preference on tickets to Vieques. Please understand that many residents work on the main island, many patients travel for treatment and must return to Vieques because they don’t have a place to stay, funds or transportation to stay in Ceiba.
- On holidays and weekends be prepared to wait inline for a looooong time. Pack a snack & some patience! Reservations are typically not given for weekends and holidays. Ask the hotel or vacation rental manager where you’re staying in Vieques, most offer the service of getting tickets for you ahead of time and they will mail them to you.
The Ferry Ride
- Ride Length – The ride on the new Puerto Rico Fast Ferry (passenger only) generally takes about 30 minutes. The time may vary upon the boat you board and weather conditions. The ATM cargo ferries will take a little longer – about 45 minutes. For now, the Vieques route will be to Isabel Segunda/Town pier (some time in the future, they will be using the Mosquito Pier).
- Sea sickness – The ride is pretty stable, average person feels pretty comfortable. If you suffer from sea sickness, sit on the middle seats where you’ll feel less motion. Speak to your doctor about a prescription or over the counter medication before your trip to prevent motion sickness.
Frequently asked questions about the ferry service
Can we make reservations for the Vieques ferry?
Currently the only way to make reservations for a future date is to physically go to the terminal and purchase it. Another option is to ask the hotel manager / vacation rental where you’re staying in Vieques to purchase the tickets for you and mail them to you. Be sure to arrive at least one hour before departure time, 1.5 hour on weekends and holidays.
May I take my car to Vieques?
If you are taking a vehicle, reservations are required for the Cargo Ferry. Call as soon as you know your dates by phone to make a reservation. They take Visa / MasterCard for reservations. You will need your car registration number and driver’s license. Cargo ferry is really intended for use by residents of Vieques / Culebra and businesses transporting goods. It is best to rent a car in Vieques for a day.
Is there parking at the dock?
Yes, you may park your car at the public parking lot for $5 per day plus tax.
Can we rent a car in Puerto Rico and bring it to Vieques on the ferry?
Most car rental agencies will not allow you to take the car off the main island of Puerto Rico, even if you could we do not recommend it. Is best to simply rent a car in Vieques.
12 Tips for Taking the Ferry to Vieques, Puerto Rico
If you’re looking to visit the island paradise of Vieques, Puerto Rico, one of the first questions you’ll have to answer is how to get there. Many people opt to fly to Vieques, which is the quickest and most convenient option. Others, however, choose to take the Vieques ferry.
Although it is by far the least expensive way to get to Vieques, the ferry does have its downsides. First, the terminal is located in Ceiba, which is about an hour (or more) from San Juan on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Second, the ferry has a reputation for being unreliable and a bit of a hassle. Based on our experience during our recent girls’ trip to Puerto Rico, I would have to admit that the ferry’s poor reputation is not entirely undeserved.Despite having tickets, we were turned away from our first ferry to Vieques and ended up on another boat to the island.
That said, however, Vieques is an incredible island and well worth whatever hassle it takes to get there. There are also a lot of reasons why it might be worth your while to take the ferry instead of flying. First and foremost are the cost savings. Roundtrip flights would have been anywhere from $90 – $300+ apiece, whereas we took the ferry to Vieques and back for less than $15 per person. It’s also a beautiful ride and the best way to get the local experience.
While you can’t guarantee that nothing will go awry, there are steps you can take to give yourself the best chance at a smooth, pain-free crossing. Read on for twelve of my best tips for the Vieques ferry, and don’t forget to check out my complete guide to Vieques for more help planning your trip!
(Note: some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission from your purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Full Life, Full Passport! You can find the full disclosure here.)
1.) Buy your tickets in advance.
It is absolutely essential that you buy your tickets ahead of time. Not only is it possible for tickets to sell out, but the sales lines at the terminal are ridiculously slow.
2.) Book a morning passage, and avoid weekends and holidays.
I highly recommend buying a morning ticket so that you have some buffer if you get bumped. When we were turned away from our 8:30 AM ferry, we were really glad that there were multiple alternative options later in the day.
You’ll also want to avoid traveling on weekends and especially on holidays. Vieques is a popular day trip destination for Puerto Ricans, and locals get priority for seats on the ferry. Try to travel on a random weekday to avoid jostling for position with a crowd.
3.) Don’t forget a ticket for your luggage.
Be aware that you will not only need a ticket for yourself but also for anything you’re planning to carry onto the ferry. This includes coolers, beach chairs, suitcases, bicycles, etc. Don’t forget to add these items when purchasing your ticket. If you don’t, you might get turned away when boarding. You don’t want to miss your ferry because you’re standing in line to buy a ticket for your suitcase!The actual Vieques ferry docked in Isabel Segunda
4.) Don’t be surprised by the taxes and fees.
While at first glance the Vieques ferry appears to be dirt cheap, there will be some taxes and fees added on at the end. Our tickets cost us $8 ($5 for ourselves and $3 for our luggage) each way, and yet the total cost of each passage was $21.41 once taxes and fees were added. That said, getting to Vieques and back for less than $15 per person is still a pretty great deal.
5.) Consider staying near the ferry terminal the night before your departure.
One of the best decisions we made was spending the night in Luquillo before boarding the ferry to Vieques. The drive to the terminal was less than a half-hour and fairly devoid of traffic, which helped our stress levels considerably compared to having to make the trip from San Juan. While it was nothing fancy, the Luquillo Sunrise Hotel did the trick for us. (Plus, staying overnight in Luquillo allows you to chow down at their famous food kiosks!)
6.) Pack a snack and some water.
It’s a good idea to bring some food and water along with you in case you get bumped from your ferry and have to wait around a while. While I did spot a vending machine or two, the terminal is nowhere near any services. Thus, you’re pretty much stuck there until the next ferry arrives, which could be hours. (When we got bumped from our 8:30 AM ferry, the next scheduled departure wasn’t until 11:30 AM.)Mainland Puerto Rico from the ferry
7.) Arrive at least 1-1.5 hours early.
This one is non-negotiable. It is imperative that you arrive early for the Vieques ferry to maximize your chances of making it on the boat. We were told to get there at least an hour early, but if you have a car to park I recommend adding even more time. You pay for your spot when you enter the parking lot, which can cause a backup, and then you’ll need to walk to the shuttle stop and take the short ride to the terminal. All of these steps can eat up time quicker than you might expect.
8.) Leave your rental car behind.
It is not permitted to take a rental car from mainland Puerto Rico to Vieques. Happily, there is a fairly convenient parking lot right down the road. The cost is $8 per day, and there is a shuttle available to take you back to the ferry terminal. Make sure to lock your car, hide any valuables you’re leaving behind, and tip your shuttle driver if he or she helps with your luggage.
9.) Wear sunscreen.
On a nice day, the best place to be on the Vieques ferry is the top deck. It’s absolutely glorious feeling the wind on your face and watching the deep blue of the Caribbean sea roll underneath you. Just make sure to slather on a bit of sunscreen, as there is no shade on the top deck and you’ll be exposed to the strong tropical sun for the duration of the trip.
On a nice day, there’s no better place to be than the top deck of the Vieques ferry.
10.) Arrange your transportation in advance.
If possible, try to arrange for a taxi to be waiting for you when you dock in Vieques. I acknowledge that this is not an easy feat since ferry service is so unreliable, but you can always call back to update your pickup time if you get delayed. The street in front of the ferry terminal in Isabel Segunda is narrow, and there’s not much room for people to congregate and wave down transportation. Having a publico (public taxi van) waiting for you when you arrive will save a lot of hassle.
One of the most commonly-used taxi services on Vieques is Vieques Taxi (+1 787-741-TAXI ). M&M Taxi was also recommended to us (+1 939-208-1600). It should cost $5 per person to get from the ferry terminal in Isabel Segunda to Esperanza.
11.) Arrive 45 minutes early for your return trip.
For unknown reasons, the return trip on the Vieques ferry is much less of a hassle than the trip from Ceiba. As a result, it is less imperative to arrive dramatically early or to be prepared with snacks for a long wait. (There are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of the terminal if you would happen to get delayed.) I suggest arriving about forty-five minutes to an hour before your scheduled departure.
12.) Be prepared for a disorganized mess when the Vieques ferry returns to Ceiba.
The parking shuttle situation when the ferry returns to Ceiba leaves a lot to be desired. The shuttle stop is not marked and there’s no clear method for lining up to board the van. (Our annoyed shuttle driver told us that the security guards are supposed to help organize people but they don’t.)
Head to the little white pavilion that sits in the middle of the looped drop-off area just through the gate, and bring your patience with you. There were a lot of angry ferry passengers jostling for position and yelling about who should be picked up first and from where. We just stood back and waited for the crowds to clear out rather than trying to battle them. It didn’t take long.The town of Isabel Segunda
There you have them: my twelve best tips for maximizing your chances for success on the ferry to Vieques. Before you go, though, I want to throw one more idea out there…
Alternative: Consider flying at least one way.
For those on a budget, the cost of the Vieques ferry simply can’t be beaten. In terms of convenience, however, it leaves a lot to be desired. If the price of a roundtrip flight has you balking, but you’re nervous about the unpredictability of the ferry, why not consider flying to Vieques and taking the return ferry back? You’ll save time and money while eliminating the more laborious and unreliable of the two crossings. Plus, you’ll get to experience the trip from two different perspectives!
Of the three airports with flights to Vieques, flights from the one in Ceiba are the least expensive. (Officially, the airport is known as José Aponte De La Torre Airport, with the code RVR.) This is especially helpful because you’ll be returning to Ceiba on the ferry and can take a short taxi ride to pick up your rental car back at the airport.
However you choose to get there, make sure you don’t miss the incredible island of Vieques. It’s truly a gem, and you won’t regret the trip!
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A Guide to the Beaches of Vieques
A Complete Guide to Vieques, Puerto Rico
An Unbeatable One-Week Itinerary for Puerto Rico
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These tips for the Vieques ferry were originally published on July 7, 2020, and last updated on July 8, 2021.
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Esperanza Inn Guesthouse, Vieques — Updated 2022 Prices
We have travelled extensively and finding great hosts to help with tips and suggestions for local hidden gems has always enhanced our time in any place and we are happy to be able to pay it forward.
We feel blessed to have this opportunity to do what we call Workcation 🙂 Each day we welcome guests from around the world and enjoy sharing stories and making new friends.
We proudly host a mix of large beautifully appointed guest rooms as well as 3 full 1 & 2 bedroom apartments with Kitchens. We welcome single travelers, couples, families with children 13+ as well as groups of 4 to 30.
Whether you are joining us for a one night stay, a few weeks of down time, a family retreat, a magical island wedding or any special occasion, we promise your stay with us will leave you with amazing lifetime memories
Only a 2 to 5 minute walk to multiple pristine beaches with great snorkelling such as Esperanza Beach & our Secret Beach.
We live on property and are happy to offer concierge services to help make your vacation experience the best.
Welcome to the Esperanza Inn. Your Vacation Home.
We are ideally located only a 2 minute walk to the ocean and the Malecón. You will find local beaches, restaurants, shops and where all bio bay tours depart. As well as many other activities, including local artisans and live music.
Our Inn does not just provide a hotel room. Our facilities include a relaxing garden paradise. After your day of Island touring & beach combing, enjoy one of our many sitting areas, hammocks and cool off with our outdoor shower or take a dip in the pool while surrounded by exotic floral & soothing palms. We also have a rooftop patio with breathtaking 180 degree views of the ocean and mountains.
No vacation home would be complete without beach towels, chairs, boogie boards, umbrellas and coolers. Other properties charge for these items, but we are happy to include them with your stay.
We have a BBQ and a kitchen area that is fully equipped with utensils and tableware. Enjoy our lounge while you read a book or play one of our many games.
Complimentary coffee & continental breakfast is served each morning.
We also welcome you to inquire about one of our all inclusive, unique custom retreats.
The South side of Vieques is where the village of Esperanza is and where we proudly call home. A 15 minute taxi ride from the airport/ferry terminal.
There are several beach front restaurants and it is the perfect beach hopping destination.
Additional pristine white sand beaches such as gorgeous Sun Bay, Media Luna, Navio and Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) are also within walking distance of the Inn.
The Vieques Wildlife Refuge is a 10 minute drive and hosts 30+ beaches, including famous Caracas and Playa La Chiva.
You can also book a horseback riding tour, fishing tour, do some great hiking, rent a bike to tour the island or take an amazing snorkelling tour where you will swim with beautiful sea turtles, see star fish, stingrays and even enjoy colored coral! All of these amazing tours can be enjoyed within the Esperanza area where they are minutes away or where the tours leave from.
El Malecon restaurants serve fresh local lobster and fish. As well, there are many food vendors and trucks which line the area for you to enjoy traditional dishes such as Mofongo and smoked meats made by locals.
We hope this list will help you plan a magical Vieques vacation.
These languages are spoken here
Puerto Rican island of Vieques: war games, hurricanes and wild horses
Denise Oliver Velez, January 21, 2018, Daily Kos.
A pile of artillery and mortar shells on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (Attribution, Al Jazeera.)
It is hard to believe that the inhabited part of the United States of America has been used as a military war games ground and as a training ground for many decades. Such was the fate of the inhabitants of the islands of Vieques and Culebra, which are municipalities in the US Territory of Puerto Rico whose inhabitants are US citizens.
On October 19, 1999, then-Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Rossello, testified before a US Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing and concluded his weighty remarks with these words:
We the people of Puerto Rico are by no means the first a group of American citizens who went through the school of the hard blows of democracy and learned this painful lesson. Mr. Chairman, we wish our fleet all the best. We admire his experience and welcome him as our neighbor. We are immensely proud of the thousands and thousands of Puerto Ricans who have responded to his call to help defend the cause of freedom throughout the world. And I’m sure my feelings are shared by the vast majority of Puerto Ricans everywhere, including Vieques. However, I am no less convinced that we, the people of Puerto Rico, have emerged from colonial passivity. Never again will we tolerate abuse on a scale and scale that no community in any of the 50 states would ever be asked to tolerate.
Never again will we tolerate such violence. Not for 60 years and not for 60 months or 60 days, 60 hours or 60 minutes. This could be a classic case of strength versus truth. And we Puerto Ricans have empowered ourselves to support a just cause.
In God, we believe and believe in God, and we will ensure that our neighbors in Vieques finally receive the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Protests ended the war games on Culebra at 1975, but hostilities in Vieques continued until May 1, 2003.
Vieques, Culebra and Puerto Rico are again subjected to violence. This time they were not bombed by the US military. Instead, they were bombarded by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the abuses were a casual response from the US government led by Donald Trump.
Given the lackluster coverage of post-hurricane Puerto Rico by our mainstream media, the failure to present what is covered there in a historical context, and the general lack of education in the history of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico here on the mainland, today we let’s delve into Vieques — its past, present and future.
In the video above, Robert Rabin gives a brief history of Vieques.
Studies show that Vieques was first settled by Native Americans from South America about 1500 years before Christopher Columbus set foot in Puerto Rico in 1493. After a brief battle between the local Indians and the Spanish, the Spanish took control of the island, turning the locals into their slaves. In 1811, Don Salvador Meléndez, then governor of Puerto Rico, sent military commander Juan Rosello to begin what would later become the takeover of Vieques by the people of Puerto Rico. In 1816 Simon Bolivar visited Vieques. Teofilo José Jaime Maria Guillo, recognized as the founder of Vieques as a city, arrived here in 1823, when economic and social changes were taking place on the island of Vieques.
By the second half of the 19th century, Vieques received thousands of black immigrants who came to help with the sugar plantations. Some of them came as slaves and some came themselves to earn extra money. Most of them came from the nearby islands of St. Thomas, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Croix and many other Caribbean countries.
During the 1940s, the US military purchased 60% of the land area from local residents, including farms and sugar plantations, which in turn were left without employment opportunities, and many were forced to emigrate to mainland Puerto Rico and St. Croix to see for home and work. Thereafter, the US military used Vieques as a testing ground for bombs, missiles, and other weapons.
Many of you have seen footage of the US military war showing the bombing of the «enemy». However, this clip shows the bombing of Vieques during «war games», often using live ammunition, «In Vieques, the Navy operates the North Atlantic Fleet Training Facility, one of the largest live weapons training grounds in the world.»
60 minutes (see video at link) made a special video called «The Bombing of Vieques».
Vieques is usually a quiet place. Located just off the east coast of Puerto Rico, it is a small island of about 9,000 people, mostly US citizens.
But all is not peaceful: The Navy owns two-thirds of the island and has regularly used part of the land as a training ground for the use of live ammunition for the past 50 years.
Much of the Navy’s territory is a buffer zone between residents and the bomb blast zone at the eastern end. This peak is the only place in the Atlantic where the Navy can practice a full-scale attack, combining sea landings, naval artillery fire and air strikes.
But the islanders say that living in a quasi-war zone has taken a toll on their environment and health.
«I think if this happened in Manhattan, or if it happened at Martha’s Vineyard, of course the delegations from those states would make sure it didn’t happen again,» said Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello.
But without Vieques, the Navy won’t be able to properly train its troops, says Rear Admiral William Fallon, Commander of the Atlantic Fleet. «It’s about combat risk,» he said.
«The reason we do live fire is because we need to prepare our people for this potential, this opportunity,» he continued.
«If we don’t, we’re putting them at very, very direct risk,» he said. «That’s why it’s so important to the Navy and the nation. »
Puerto Rico commissioned a damage survey and hired explosives experts Rick Stauber and James Burton to survey the island. The two men said there were «a lot» of unexploded ordnance scattered around the island and on the seabed.
This documentary details the evolution of the protest movement. It’s called Vieques: every bit is worth , From Mary Patierno on Vimeo.
In the 1940s, the US Navy expropriated much of the small island of Vieques in Puerto Rico and built a weapons testing and training ground. For more than sixty years, citizens have remained squeezed into only 23% of the island, sandwiched between an armory and a bombing range.
For years, a small group of activists have protested against the Navy’s regular bomb tests and experiments with new weapons systems in Vieques. But the fight against the fleet did not attract everyone’s attention until 19April 1999, when David Sanes Rodriguez, a base security guard, was killed when two 500-pound bombs misfired at his post. Sanes’ death sparked a movement against the military and ignited the passions of Puerto Ricans from all walks of life.
Vieques: Every Bit of Struggle Documents the David and Goliath Story of the Vieques and the Community’s Peaceful Transformation Despite Huge Odds the bombing led to indignation»
The US Navy may lose its main training ground after failing to reassure the government and the people of Puerto Rico. The municipality of the island of Vieques, which the United States bought in 1940 for a million dollars, is considered an ideal place for simulating ground and air attacks using live bombs. But after the accidental death of an island resident this year, Puerto Rican officials will likely not allow the Navy and Marines to conduct additional exercises. The dispute raises accusations that the Pentagon is mocking Puerto Rico, a community of US citizens who have neither the right to vote nor representation in Washington.
«Nowhere in the 50 states will you have a military exercise like Vieques,» says Charles Kamasaki of the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights group in Washington.
Critics accuse the Navy of using live ammunition too close to the civilian population and of violating a 1983 agreement to limit shooting range exercises. The Pentagon has acknowledged the use of radioactive depleted uranium bullets, napalm and cluster bombs. At least one study has found that Vieques have significantly higher rates of cancer than other Puerto Ricans, a charge denied by the Navy.
The key in the article is:
Vieques traffic was not galvanized until April 19, when a Navy pilot knocked two 500-pound bombs off course, killing a civilian guard at the base and injuring four others. Pilot and communications errors were to blame for the accident.
Since then, demonstrators have camped at the firing range and the Navy has been forced to suspend operations. Every Saturday, about 300 demonstrators picket near one of the military installations. “When the fleet takes the next step, we will take the next step,” says Oscar Ortiz, a union worker. “If they want to arrest us, we are ready. They will have to arrest all the people of Puerto Rico.”
For more, I suggest you read Military Power and Popular Protest: US Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico Katherine McCaffrey.
The inhabitants of Vieques, a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, live sandwiched between an ammunition depot and a US Navy bombing range. Since the 1940s, when the navy expropriated more than two-thirds of the island, residents have struggled to make a living amid the roar of bombs and the roar of guns. Like the army base in Okinawa, Japan, the facility sparked violent protests from residents who challenged US security interests abroad. At 19In 1999, when a local civilian base employee was killed by a stray bomb, protests erupted again in Vieques, mobilizing tens of thousands of people and turning this tiny Caribbean island into a place for international business.
Katherine T. McCaffrey gives a full analysis of the problematic relationship between the US Navy and the islanders. She explores topics such as the history of the US naval presence in Vieques; mass mobilization caused by fishing began in the 1970s; how the fleet promised to improve the lives of the inhabitants of the island and failed; and the current emergence of vibrant political activity that effectively challenges maritime hegemony.
The Vieques case highlights a serious concern in US foreign policy that goes far beyond Puerto Rico: military bases abroad act as lightning rods for anti-American sentiment, thereby threatening the country’s image and interests abroad. By analyzing these particular conflict relationships, the book also explores important lessons about colonialism and post-colonialism, as well as the relationship of the United States with countries in which it maintains military bases.
Fast forward to the years of military occupation. In 2013, Al Jazeera ran this article asking, «Are cancer, birth defects, and disease a long-term legacy of US weapons use in Puerto Rico?»
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Islanders suffer from significantly higher rates of cancer and other diseases than the rest of Puerto Rico, which they attribute to decades of gun use. But a report released in March by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the federal agency investigating toxic substances, said it found no such link.
“The inhabitants of Vieques are very ill, not because they were born sick, but because their community has fallen ill as a result of many factors, one of the most important being the infection they have been exposed to for over 60 years. These people have a higher risk of cancer, hypertension and kidney failure, Carmen Ortiz-Rock, an epidemiologist and obstetrician, told Al Jazeera. — Women of childbearing age in Vieques are significantly more polluted than other women in Puerto Rico…. 27 percent of the women in Vieques we studied had enough mercury to cause neurological damage in their unborn child,” she added.
Vieques has a cancer rate 30% higher than the rest of Puerto Rico and almost four times the rate of hypertension.
“There are all kinds of cancer here — bone cancer, tumors. Skin cancer. All. We had friends who were diagnosed and died two or three months later. These are very aggressive cancers,” said Carmen Valencia of the Women’s Alliance of Vieques. Vieques has only basic medical care, including a maternity clinic and an emergency room. There are no chemotherapeutic facilities here, and patients have to travel for hours by ferry or plane for treatment.
Seafood, which is an important part of the diet, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the food consumed on the island, is also at risk.
“We have bomb remnants and contaminants in corals, and it is clear that this type of pollution is transferred to crustaceans, fish and larger fish that we end up eating. These heavy metals in high concentrations can cause damage and cancer in humans,” explained Elda Guadalupe, an environmental scientist.
In 2016 Atlantic Ocean was this coverage of Puerto Rico’s «Invisible Health Crisis»
With a population of around 9,000, Vieques is home to some of the highest incidence rates in the Caribbean. According to Cruz Maria Nazario, an epidemiologist at the Graduate School of Public Health University of Puerto Rico, people who live in Vieques are eight times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and seven times more likely to die of diabetes than others in Puerto Rico, where the incidence of these diseases rivals that of the United States. on the island higher than in any other Puerto Rican municipality.0003
Regardless of the amount of reporting or research, as long as the US government maintains a position of cover-up and denial, environmental justice will not happen.
Vieques has other inhabitants, especially the wild horse population.
Officials on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques are waging an unusual fight for control of a tourist attraction that has become something of a plague on an island best known as the site of a former US military training ground. The tiny island is hugely popular with tourists, as visitors flock to its famous vibrant turquoise waters, lush mangrove forests, and picturesque free-roaming horses. In a vacant lot outside the $500-a-night W Retreat & Spa, a man with a gun is chasing the wild mares for which the island is famous. He walks slowly towards a group of brown and white horses, raises his gun and fires. The brown mare kicks with her hind legs and runs away.
Richard Ladez, director of safety for the Humane Society of the United States, picks up a contraceptive dart that has fallen from a horse’s rump and gives the team a thumbs up. First introduced by Spanish colonists, horses are used by many of Vieques’ 9,000 residents to run errands, drive children to school, transport fishermen to their boats, race informally between teenage boys, and bring home late-night drinkers. they are adored by tourists who like to take pictures of them eating mangoes and frolicking on the beaches. Many locals keep their horses in the open fields by the sea, where they graze until they are needed. Feeding and sheltering a limited horse on an island with an average income of less than $20,000 a year is out of reach for many. Some horses are branded, many are not, and some are simply feral. Officials say that as a result, it is almost impossible to control the horse population and hold owners accountable if problems arise.
The population has grown to about 2,000 animals that break water pipes to quench their thirst, knock over trash cans in search of food, and die in car accidents that have increased as tourists flock to Vieques, which has grown in popularity since the US Navy shut down military operations in the early 2000s. In desperation, Vieques Mayor Victor Emerick called the Humane Society, which agreed to begin a five-year program to send teams to the island armed with air rifles, pistols and hundreds of darts loaded with the PZP animal contraceptive. The program began in November and gained momentum with a two-day promotion by about a dozen Humane Society volunteers and staff over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. More than 160 mares have been attacked and Humane Society officials say they plan to introduce contraceptives to virtually all of the island’s mares by the end of the year. The program will cost up to $200,000 per year and is funded entirely by donations.
Many people who visited Vieques were concerned about the fate of the horses after the storm, as detailed in this article titled «Hurricane Horse Help: Special Horses in Puerto Rico’s Vieques Survive». contraceptives on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico were killed by the devastating Hurricane Maria.
Some 280 mares from 2000 island horses were introduced PZP at the end of last year in an attempt to stop the growing number of horses on a small island. The island is known for one of the world’s most remarkable bioluminescent bays, as well as for its beautiful, free-roaming Paso Fino horses. But water is scarce on the island, and a drought has claimed several lives in recent years.
The HSUS relief team on the island confirmed that some horses died, were killed by storm surges, or were injured by debris, and a significant proportion of the animals required medical attention. But they also said that the vast majority of the horses seemed to have survived the storm.
“We are providing them with extra food because the trees are bare and food and fresh water are scarce, and we will provide as much medical care as we can,” said HSUS CEO Wayne Paysell.
He said Dr. Dickey West, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch veterinarian, helped lead the response with wildlife handling and response experts Dave Pauli and John Piveler. “With the help of local residents, our team is also caring for dozens of dogs, cats and other animals at a mobile clinic they have set up to provide ongoing medical care to owned animals that people desperately need to receive care,” Paisel said.
Here is a link to the HSUS Animal Rescue Team to support their efforts
As mentioned above, Vieques is also the site of one of the natural wonders of the world, the bioluminescent bay featured in this NPR story.
We are here tonight to see the glowing marine life called dinoflagellates in the water. This single-celled plankton catches fire when disturbed. When plankton are plentiful and conditions are optimal, run your hand across the water, leaving a trail of flickering light.
The view here glows blue-green. It’s called Pyrodinium bahamense , or «the bubbling fire of the Bahamas». Hernandez and another guide say that when the bay glows at full strength, you can tell which fish are moving underwater by the shape of the glow. Fish jumping above the surface leave a trail of glowing spray behind them. When it rains, they say, the entire surface of the water is illuminated. Edith Widder, bioluminescence specialist and co-founder of the Association for Ocean Research and Conservation, says the luminaries are a defense mechanism for these creatures, which share characteristics with both plants and animals. Flashes can alert large predators to anything that destroys plankton.
«So this is extremely complex behavior for a single-celled creature, and a boy can be impressive,» she says.
But hurricanes ruin the light show. Rain disrupts the chemistry of the bay with lots of fresh water. Hurricane Maria damaged the mangroves surrounding the bay, which provide dinoflagellates with the vitamin they need, Widder said. And a strong wind can really push the luminous creatures into the open ocean. “The winds could push the water out of the bay, out of the mouth of the bay,” adds Hernandez. After other hurricanes, it took several months before the bay began to glow again, she said.
There will be a Kos Daily Meeting in Puerto Rico on January 29th with Chef Bobby Neary, aka Newcomer. «Daily Kos is sending Kelly Macias from our newsroom and Chris Reeves from our community building department to do some original coverage of Puerto Rico matching SOTU’s address.»
I understand that they will go to Vieques and I look forward to reading their reports.