Islands of Resistance: Vieques, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Policy





While 1998 marked the 100th anniver­sary of the Unit­ed States’ inva­sion and takeover of Puer­to Rico, it was­n’t until 1999 that the island’s polit­i­cal move­ments reap­peared on the radar screen of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. That year, two major devel­op­ments occurred that trans­formed the rela­tion­ship between Puer­to Rico and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: the lim­it­ed clemen­cy grant­ed by then-Pres­i­dent Clin­ton to eleven Puer­to Rican Nation­al­ists, and the death of Puer­to Rican civil­ian secu­ri­ty guard David Sanes, killed by mis­sile frag­ments from U.S. naval bomb­ing tests on the island munic­i­pal­i­ty of Vieques.
How does Vieques fit into the polit­i­cal future of Puer­to Rico? While anti-Navy pro­test­ers are care­ful not to mix the island’s polit­i­cal sta­tus options with their bat­tle against the Navy, it is impor­tant to under­stand the role Wash­ing­ton has played in shap­ing Puer­to Rico’s cur­rent real­i­ty and how it has allowed the Navy to use Vieques as a bomb­ing range for 60 years. It also helps one begin to pre­dict what is the future of Puer­to Rico. Is it to be a colony? Fifty-first state of the Unit­ed States? Sov­er­eign nation?
In Islands of Resis­tance, Mario A. Muril­lo approach­es these ques­tions by exam­in­ing how Puer­to Rican pol­i­tics have been shaped as much by 100 years of U.S. eco­nom­ic, mil­i­tary, and cul­tur­al dom­i­na­tion of the ter­ri­to­ry, as by the endur­ing grass­roots resis­tance of the Puer­to Rican peo­ple. Islands of Resis­tance puts the con­tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tion in Puer­to Rico into an his­toric con­text that will help peo­ple under­stand what is at stake in Vieques, not only for Viequenses, but for Puer­to Ricans, both on the island and in the diaspora.
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