Blog 7: Vieques and Culebra

Puerto Rico is an archipelago. This means it’s actually a collection of islands. You have the “big island” and others that surround it. The only two that are municipalities in Puerto Rico are Vieques and Culebra. These municipalities were hit hard during Hurricane María and have struggled to recover, maybe even more so than the big island.

This video, although a year old, shows just one of the ways residents of Vieques struggled after María.

The island of Vieques, particularly, has an embattled history with the U.S., as it used to be home to a military site mostly used as a range. It seized operating in 2001 after massive protests, but to this day people believe the tests posed health risks to its residents.

Just today, Oct. 6, PR Governor Wanda Vázquez signed an executive order that activates the Coast Guard to provide cargo transport to the islands of Vieques and Culebra after their cargo ships broke down. Vieques and Culebra’s main from of transport between the big island and them are a system of cargo ships and ferries which, in recent years, have broken down a lot.

Most stories, or updates, about life on Puerto Rico focus on the big island. More specifically the metropolitan area in the big island. And, they often ignore other municipalities like Vieques and Culebra, and municipalities in the mountainous region. I mean, writing this blog I’ve come to realize that Puerto Rico as a whole barely gets covered, so these municipalities and their issues are mostly left in the dark.