After being absent for six years, the U.S. military is suggesting it could once again re-establish a presence on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the Associated Press is reporting. Angry objections are already being heard from Puerto Rico and beyond.
Military leaders said in testimony last week that the Caribbean island—a one time Navy bombing range and practice area—is placed well to extend the United States’ reach in the Caribbean and possibly help in airspace and drug trafficking surveillance.
In 2003, protests from Puerto Rican activists closed down the long-running Navy bombing range. “We the Puerto Ricans fought for so many years to end the bombing and to have the land turned over to the people of Vieques,” Jose Paralitici, a veteran anti-Navy activist, said to the AP. “We are opposed to it being used for anything else, much less that it go back to the military.”
Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's delegate to Congress, has issued a statement rejecting any military exercises on the island, backtracking on an earlier statement that said he would be fine with allowing the military back in as long as their presence “doesn’t include bombing our rare but valuable natural resources.”