Ever since the U.S. Navy left Vieques Island and Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on the main island of Puerto Rico, things have gone steadily downhill for that part of the U.S. commonwealth. Things continue to deteriorate to the point where a fair question needs to be asked? Is it safe for American tourists to visit Vieques Island?
The unfortunate answer is, probably not. Last year the island had the highest per capita murder rate in the world. While most of those murders were directly related to the drug trade a recent murder brings the danger home for everyone. According to El Nuevo Dia an American born guest house owner was gunned down in his home during a home invasion and robbery. Who else stays in his home and other properties he rents? Tourists.
The most direct threat to tourists is in the form of petty theft. Purses, handbags, wallets and other items one might leave on the beach while they swim, or in their room while they are out or in their car. One visitor to the island related to me privately that he had been told by his rental car company on Vieques to, “leave the doors of the car unlocked, because the thieves will get in anyway and we don’t want them to break the windows.”
There is no question about the beauty and allure of Vieques Island, especially thanks to the decades of preservation and protection work done by the U.S. Navy during its operations there. The only section clearly damaged by Navy presence was the actually 900 or so acres of the actual bombing range. On the former ‘civilian side’ of the island problems persist with litter. The departure of the Navy and its anti-drug operations and support left the door wide open for the most violent drug operations to take root and grow unchecked.
High unemployment, also due in part to the anti-Navy protests and operations over the years (not just after the bombing accident) also contributes to the overall problem along with the corruption in Puerto Rico government and a general attitude of apathy which silently drowns out the voices of those who wish to make things better. Unemployment and poverty however, are not an excuse for petty crime, much less murder.
Vieques, like the rest of Puerto Rico must take concrete steps to improve its situation by first assuming responsibility for the state of its own affairs and then drawing up and executing plans on how to fix them. Until then, I would not recommend Vieques to anyone, unless they were someone I really didn’t like.
More on garbage problems in Vieques.
***NOTE: Please, consider buying one of my books which will help this blog reach more people. Toy Farm Lemonade, The Beagle and the Dolphin and A Puerto Rican Manifesto and my latest piece ‘Life lessons from driving lessons‘ are all available today at Amazon Kindle.
Also please, consider a donation to Puerto Rican Conservative News, Franktopia and our circumnavigation project to take these blogs global Visit the PR conservative Pay Pal page to donate. Thanks to those who have already donated.