Islands of Resistance: Puerto Rico, Vieques, and U.S. Policy
Recent events in Puerto Rico are once again calling attention to the unequal relationship that the United States has maintained with the island for over 102 years. The arrest and sentencing of four prominent community leaders—the Rev. Al Sharpton, New York State Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Bronx Democratic Leader Roberto Ramirez, and New York City Councilman Carrion—are the latest in a long history of acts carried out against those people who have resisted this unequal relationship.
Despite the harsh sentences given to these leaders, the people of Vieques and their supporters vow to continue protesting until the Navy leaves Vieques once and for all. All these events are shining the spotlight on Puerto Rico like never before. In fact, 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.