2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Aug 2003 19:54:59 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] After the Bombs, Retrofitting Paradise
Puerto Rico
After the Bombs, Retrofitting Paradise
By Raul A. Barreneche
August 28, 2003

THIS 51.7-square-mile island about 7 miles off the east coast of Puerto
Rico has a reputation that far exceeds its size.

Here Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Rev. Al Sharpton were arrested as
they protested the presence of the Navy, which had occupied 27,000 of
the island's 33,000 acres since the early 1940's. Bombing tests and war
games angered the inhabitants, known as Viequenses, for decades.

After much resistance, the Navy departed this troubled paradise on May
1. But the Navy's absence has opened opportunities for the development
of the largely uninhabited acres that it left behind. (Nearly half has
become a wildlife refuge overseen by the Interior Department.) The
question now is how bucolic Vieques  population 9,106 and known for
beaches, wild horses and the micro-organisms that make bioluminescent
Mosquito Bay sparkle and glow  can preserve its pristine landscapes
while encouraging new homes and accompanying amenities.

The island has been a small but vibrant tourist destination for decades,
but "Vieques hasn't really been designed yet," said Monica R. Chitnis,
34, a Bombay-born banker. She left New York in 1997 to open a restaurant
here with her husband, Ricardo Betancourt, a native of Puerto Rico.
"What has been built has been a lo loco, a bit crazy. There's no method
to the madness. To turn Vieques into another St. Barts would be a grand

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