2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 2 Sep 2003 15:21:35 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] After the Bombs, Retrofitting Paradise
_From Comité Pro Rescate y Desarrollo de Vieques <bieke@prdigital.com>
Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques
PO Box 1424          Vieques, Puerto Rico  00765
Tel.  787 741-0716   Fax  741-0358   E mail:

Special Report from the Peace and Justice Camp
30 August, 2003


Since May first, we  have  received many messages expressing concern
about speculators and foreign economic interests that seek control of
our lands.  Articles published recently in the US press describe the
situation and warn of this serious threat.  We respond here to two
articles in particular published in the New York Times.  On July 26, the
NYT published a piece by John Todd, ''ecologist'' from Vermont, titled:
"A Golden Opportunity for Vieques to be Green".  Todd criticizes two
Puerto Rican Government projects - one touristic the other for fishermen
- both in the area of Esperanza.  He claims both projects threaten the
bioluminescent bay, sea turtles and other elements of nature.  He argues
the government should support the "... several eco-tourism projects
under way or planned for Vieques ... whose builders are trying to be
sensitive to their surroundings ..."

Todd does not mention in his article that he is part of an international
consortium based in New York that plans a mega hotel complex for Vieques
- precisely in the area of Esperanza.  Here's a segment of the
description of his project, Sun Bay Resort:

''......a first class resort on the Southern shore of Vieques ... a
quasi-deserted Caribbean island ... The Sun Bay Resort will include both
real estate and hotel development ventures ... acquiring approximately
500 acres of land bordering a spectacular natural reserve near the
village of Esperanza; building and marketing a wide spectrum of
residential condos, from artist studios to ranch houses ... a 200-room,
beach front hotel; a 75-cabin, ecological village; a 45-room hilltop
inn; and a 40-room golf club hotel ... several restaurants, bars and
clubs, an 18 hole golf course, marina facilities, river pools, health
and beauty spas, sailing, scuba and equestrian schools, a botanical
garden, riding paths and polo fields."  (Taken from, Project
Description, Sunbay Resort Development.  January 1999)

Another article -- ''After the Bombs, Retrofitting Paradise'' -- written
by Raul A. Barreneche and published in the NYT on August 28, also merits
our attention.  For Barreneche, the principal figures in our struggles
and the development of our island are others:  Robert Kennedy and Rev.
Sharpton in the protest (no mention of the over 1000 Puerto Ricans - the
highest percentage of which were Viequenses - who made great sacrifices
in the intense struggle to end the military destruction here).  Nor are
the names he relates to development very
''indigenous'':  Hix, Chitnis, Gayle, Wright, Lewis and Wielgus.

For him - and for many foreigners ''interested'' in the future of
Vieques, the Viequenses are invisible.  And when they are mentioned, the
comments are often negative and racist.  For example, from Barreneche's
piece we offer the following

" ... an atmosphere of anti-gringoism among some islanders as well as
resistance to off-island investors by the mayor of Vieques, Dámaso
Serrano. ''

"The mayor is absolutely impossible to deal with," a New York-based
landowner said.

"We need more people with brains and money, because the people here
aren't going to do it  ... They'd rather spend money on a status-symbol
car than invest in the future of the island."

Both articles point to the urgent need to stop land speculation by
powerful, outside economic interests, prepare local legislation in
defense of coastal zones and other Vieques resources and mobilize our
community to fight for sustainable development in the hands of our

The recent establishment of the Community Coalition for Sustainable
Development is a very positive step in this direction.
The struggle to control our economy will be fierce and against great
odds - as was the struggle to end the military presence.  We stopped the
bombing and we can also stop the speculators and others who would try to
take advantage of this blessed island that belongs, by natural right, to
the next generations of Viequenses.

          Peace is more than the cessation of bombing:  the struggle

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