February 1, 2010

Are Americans being forgotten on Vieques?

Posted: 05:14 PM ET

Vieques is a tropical paradise. Most people there speak Spanish. It’s a fishing community, and they typically eat what they catch. There are wild horses roaming all throughout the island. Many of the roads are unmarked and most do not have street lights.


It really feels nothing like America. But Vieques is part of America – and its people are Americans. So, why do these U.S. citizens feel their own government is ignoring them?

Most of the people on the island are suing the U.S. government for contaminating the island, which they claim made them sick. (So far, the Centers for Disease Control say it has not been able to find a link, though it plans to launch a new investigation.)

For six decades, the U.S. military used parts of Vieques and its surrounding waters as a weapons testing site. After years of protests, the military was ultimately forced off the island, which, by the way, was later designated a Superfund Toxic site. But what kind of mess did it leave behind? Islanders want answers – and most of all, they say they want the government to step up and help them with their illnesses.

The U.S. government claims “sovereign immunity” as its primary defense in the islander’s lawsuit. That argument means the government asserts that the residents on this island do not have the right to sue the government for training soldiers and testing weapons.

Obviously, the islanders do not share the same sentiment – more than 7,000 people are named in the lawsuit, which is more than 75% of the residents who live on the island.

The government also points to a 2003 CDC report which found no link between the islanders’ illnesses and the Navy’s activities on the island. That report, however was very controversial, and strongly criticized by many scientists. Now the CDC says it is taking a fresh look to see if there is a possible link.

Even though these islanders are Americans, many say they do not feel like they are being treated like Americans. They say they feel they have been forgotten about.

One young girl I interviewed told me she was proud to be an American, and she will fight for her rights just like any other American. She is 16 years old, and she is one of many, many young people on this island who battle cancer. She blames the contamination on the island for making her sick.

Do you think these Americans are being forgotten about?

Filed under: Abbie Boudreau • Special Investigations Unit

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james cordrey   February 2nd, 2010 3:12 pm ET

what court is the lawsuit filed in and what toxins are listed?

JC   February 2nd, 2010 4:04 pm ET

I've been to Vieques. The people I talked to there had a strong sense of the irony inherent in the island.

They spent years protesting the military tests, then when the military finally pulled out, they immediately started complaining about the military leaving, because all the jobs disappeared. Apparently most of them thought that the Navy would maintain a large presence there even if they weren't allowed to use the land for testing.

I was told that unemployment was over 50% when I was there in '08, that it had been much worse after the pullout, and that it was improving as the island became known as a possible destination for travelers wanting to get away from tourist traps. But it was slowing, because the same people who protested the military were protesting further development of the island.

And I can understand it. Vieques is one of the few places in the world that has bioluminescent bays and doesn't have so much light pollution that you can't tell they're there. And putting a giant resort or two in would certainly ruin that, if it were too close to the bays, and it would almost have to be since much the east and west thirds of the island are either protected nature preserves or military areas.

It's something with no good solution for the people there. The island can't really survive on its own. It doesn't even have a source of fresh water - that's piped in from Puerto Rico. The primary industry is tourism, and there's not that many places to stay there, and it can be frustrating getting from the tiny airport to anywhere else because the car rental places operate on island time, and it's several miles from the airport to either of the towns on the island.

I think the secondary industry following tourism is theft. We were instructed to leave all the doors unlocked and windows down in our rental jeep, which had no spare tires because they would be stolen, and to keep any valuable belongings either in the hotel or on our person at all times.. and in the few hours we spent with an entire beautiful beach to ourselves, we saw people looking in the jeep twice, though no one ever came down to bother us.

I didn't hear anything about illness when I was down there, and people were certainly willing to complain about anything that bothered them, so I'm not sure if this isn't just something hyped up to try and make up for the lack of jobs. The "toxic" bit, I was told, was because of the dangers of potentially unexploded ordnance, rather than dangerous chemicals. There isn't really any significant groundwater for chemicals to leech into, anyway, nor did there seem to be much in the way of farming on the island. Pretty much everything edible came on the ferry from Puerto Rico. So it's not like someone living on land near an old coal plant on the mainland where your water is poisoned and anything you grow is potentially tainted.

But are they forgotten about? Sure, insofar as almost no one realizes Puerto Rico and its smaller siblings Vieques and Culebra are part of the US. The first time I went down there, I had to have something faxed from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles so I could rent a car, and the lady had to pass me through half a dozen people before I got to one who gave me an answer that didn't say "we're not allowed to fax internationally" and express disbelief when I tell them that it wasn't international. But that's just a part of life in Puerto Rico... Most of them are happy staying as they are, with small, approximately equal percentages wanting full statehood or full independence.

How "many, many" young people battle cancer? There are only about 10,000 people on the island. Using the US average, you'd expect around 45 new cases of cancer per year... but with a population that small, the statistics aren't really valid. It's like a village of 50 people becoming the murder capital of a state after a resident snaps and kills his 6 person family. How about some actual numbers?

SnafuBob   February 2nd, 2010 4:52 pm ET

One of many areas effected by neglect and denial, how can anyone trust a government agency to report "links" to contamination on other government entities or the military? Another classic example of Big Brother turning a blind eye on it's citizens, when clearly the Navy is responsible for what it taking place there. Unfortunately they wish to point this area of American citizens being neglected and forgotten when the fact remains that a good portion of Americans are forgotten and neglected; from the lower 48, Hawaii, Alaska, and all of our territories and beyond our borders for that matter. I find it utterly shameful that our country is so possession and money driven that we can not find a common ground to provide health care for it's citizens. Both parties are to blame for the current fiasco in Washington pertaining to health care and all other forms of government bungles. I guess when it comes down to it corporations and greed go hand in hand, and Washington is a haven for back burner deals and "representatives" who really don't care for anyone but themselves and their families. Sorry to ramble on off topic somewhat; to know that my father is dying of cancer, has worked hard his entire life and because of a preconditioned medical history of my mother (cervical cancer 15 years ago) can not find affordable health care coverage. It is outrageous! To be told by a doctor that even if you had a million dollars it wouldn't begin to cover the cost of treating his condition, regardless of chances of living. Something has to give in this country, we can spend countless billions of dollars going to war in places where it isn't or wasn't needed. I'm talking about Iraq, not Afghanistan for those who read this and want to defend that mistake....although we haven't nailed down Bin Laden yet have we....thanks again GWB and the GOP, and everyone else who backed that crap. It's sad to also know our troops have died or are dying because of government neglect and greed. Our veterans; many do not receive the medical treatment they deserve and afforded right for the blood they have spilled on foreign soil. That has been the case for many many years, and many conflicts in the past. Makes me sick to think of all the wasteful spending going on in government, many will say who will pay for health care coverage for all of our citizens....seems reasonable to me that my taxes help to pay for other things most of which wasteful and pointless, at the very least mine and your taxes could go for something that actually benefits everyone....I wish the people of Vieques good luck in their bid to take on the government, I'm afraid; however it is likely a mute point.

Steve   February 2nd, 2010 4:58 pm ET

Gee, I live in Texas and I feel like my own government is ignoring me too. Different issues, but it should not be shocking that some Americans feel like their government is ignoring them.

Eduardo Collazo   February 2nd, 2010 5:01 pm ET

I most certainly think Americans on the island of Vieques are being forgotten by their federal government.

lirelou   February 2nd, 2010 5:45 pm ET

The last statistics I had on Vieques, in 2001, showed that after Vieques, Yabucoa on the Southeast of Puerto Rico, and Aguadilla, on the Northwest of Puerto RIco, trailed slightly behind in statistics. But these statistics merely showed deaths from cancer. They did not break down the various types of cancers. Ergo there was no way to judge which were genetically caused, which were environmentally caused, and which were genetic in origin but exacerbated by envirionmental factors. The difference between Vieques and Aguadilla was a single death in the reporting period. Yet the Navy had never used either Yabucoa or Aguadilla as a bombing range. The good thing about this suit is that it should force the Puerto Rican government to update its statistics to where they can stand up in a federal court. Whether that will be enough for the plaintiffs to win is another matter.

Babydaddy   February 2nd, 2010 5:58 pm ET

I am not surprised... It's tipical of our government. People are expendable when it comes down to the military. Look what happend years ago in Navada...HUh.

Nelson   February 2nd, 2010 6:40 pm ET

Thank you CNN for taking care of this situation. I am Puertorican, living for the last two years in VA, and sometimes I feel the same, about us being forgotten as Americans. It is a big issue the situation in this beautiful island and I hope that with this special report, the Federal Government would finally do something about it.

MSR   February 2nd, 2010 7:48 pm ET

Who cares?
We have our own problems.

Clay   February 2nd, 2010 8:20 pm ET

I would agree with the islanders, they are forgotten, I feel for my people and I will support them in what ever they need. I remember what had happen through the years and because of the contamination they are suffering now.

Pedro   February 2nd, 2010 10:02 pm ET

No comments from anyone so far on this topic. I think that continental American's don't feel that puertorican's islanders are Americans like them. Maybe that's why apparently nobody cares about this topic. It could be frustrating for all of us, american citizens that lives and were born in Puerto Rico, the lack of interest on this human health matters in the island. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until our political status between PR and USA get solved to get the right to be represented in US Congress and speak for ourself, one to one to the rest of the states. Continental Americans treat puertoricans like that boy at elementary school, that tries to talk to his classroom mates and nobody cares and nobody pays attention to, but he's there and is part of the same class, and when someone needed help on a homework assignment, he was there to give you his help and answers... And now, when you look back and remember your years at school, you remember that kid... and you feel that's sad about what everybody including yourself did and treated him. Maybe some day, continental americans will be mature enough to look puertorican people right to their eyes and say, we are here for you too.

Aloha   February 3rd, 2010 2:58 am ET

Dear CNN, Abbie Boudreau, Scott Bronstein, Campbell Brown, and John Eaves,
Can you help us in Hawaii and other people living near training ranges in the U.S.?

Right now, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is deciding to give nine Army training bases across the country, "permits" for depleted uranium nuclear waste dumps; they don't intend to clean it up.

We have a high cancer rates and residents are asking for independent testing and monitoring for DU radiation on our training ranges – but we have been ignored for about five years by most all officials.

Its really nice in Hawaii right now – come and investigate for us! We have an in depth story to tell and need your help!

E E   February 3rd, 2010 10:08 am ET

To CNN....
I don't think that the article on Vieques really helping the people of Vieques....YOU are not doing any good to the people of Vieques. if the main industry of the island is tourism.... then the article is going to prevent and scare the tourist from going to Vieques... that suffer as it is from fewer and fewer visitors.

erich knox   February 3rd, 2010 12:30 pm ET

Isn't it funny that Vieques residents are whining about America letting them down, but when America needs them, they refuse to learn English, refuse to enlist, refuse the Navy acces to part of America...I say tough luck, Vieques.

kd   February 3rd, 2010 1:16 pm ET

Funny, but the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico weren't "Americans" when they wanted to kick the U.S. Navy off the land the U.S. Navy legally purchased nearly 70 years ago. In fact, those same Viequense and Puerto Ricans said it was unfair for the "Americans" to make them support the American military... they never looked at it like Vieques and Puerto Rico were doing their "fair share" to support THEIR military.

It's funny how Puerto Ricans only decide they are "American" when it is to their advantage. I lived on the island, had a UPS package delivered to me from a stateside business, and was told I had to pay an "excise tax." When I called the local Puerto Rico office and asked why, I was told, "well, because it's coming to a different country here." Really, I thought I was living on the same island with other "Americans." Hmmmm.......

American   February 3rd, 2010 3:02 pm ET

Puerto Ricans are only "Americans" when it is convenient to be American i.e. welfare, social security, and financial aid. Otherwise they are proud to be "Puerto Rican" I do not think they can have it both ways

Aloha   February 3rd, 2010 3:27 pm ET

The war comes home... we are all Viqueians now.
Many U.S. training ranges across the country are contaminated – Just exactly like Vieques.

Lindafaye Kroll RN BSN   February 3rd, 2010 3:32 pm ET

Dear CNN,
I'm a retired registered nurse and concerned Hawai'i resident. I met two Vieques residents in a 2005 in a three day International Military Toxics Conference held in San Antonio, Texas. Their claims about their illnesses are valid in my opinion. My heart goes out to the them; but also to the people in the Phillipines, South Korea, Japan and in all US military live fire training bases all across the continental US and Hawai'i. Communities near these US bases are ill.

The Hawaiian islands are the most heavily militarized islands in the world. Hawai'i does host all branches of the US military since before the inception of harnessing nuclear power and using it as a weapon. Hawai'i is polluted by the very military sworn to protect us. see

Hawai'i residents have a high rate of illness yet it is hard to confirm and get hard proof because our own State of Hawaii Public Health Department won't look at military toxins as possible cause of illnesses in Hawai'i residents. US military caused pollution is happening everywhere there are US military bases.

Depleted Uranium is the worst toxic exposure Hawaii is contaminated with, but there are other toxins. We just want to know what we are dealing with. Since 2005, when a FOIA forced the military to admit they had contaminated us with DU, concerned Hawaii residents want a halt to live fire training until comprehensive transparent testing can be done. We want 24/7 transparent air testing around all live fire ranges here in Hawai'i. So far all of our concerns have been ignored.

It is one thing to practice making war with toxic munitions on a live fire training is another if those toxins float on air currents and over our communities.


Concerned Hawaii Resident.

PG   February 3rd, 2010 4:30 pm ET

One comment you did not make about Vieques is HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS! I went there 8 months ago and was amazed by the natural beauty. The bioluminescent pool there is one of the wonders of the natural world. The story is compelling, and I hope the US will take some action to help clean up – but folks this is the military we are talking about. I live in Arkansas and there are higher cancer rates around old military depots that have been abandoned and "cleaned up" even here. It'd be nice if our government always did the right thing, but they don't. I do agree with the comment made about Vieques relying on tourism – VISIT VIEQUES! You'll enjoy it. And its just as safe as HI, NV, CA or other places with active military munitions dumps.

Dave Althaus   February 3rd, 2010 4:36 pm ET

I served for a short while on Vieques with my Marine artillery battery in 1974. To state that the island was a "weapons testing site" is grossly misleading. The phrase conjurs up visions of mysterious toxic gasses hanging over the landscape and green sludge running off into the sea. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vieques was nothing more than a weapons range for artillery, naval gunfire and naval air. The weapons used were high explosive, white phosophorous and illumination.

Once the rounds detonated, the fillers (HE, WP, Illum) were consumed by the combustion and the shells left steel residue on the ground. The most dangerous residual left behind were dud rounds that failed to function correctly.

Vieques was a great range because each of those weapons systems could use the range far more safely than anywhere else. The ranges were set up so that any error in calculations or the laying of the guns would land the shells in the water...rather than on a road like we faced at Camp Lejeune.

The loss of this range was a serious loss for America's amphibious capabilities. I am personally convinced that the real goal in getting the range closed was to have it turned over to developers who would use the beautiful beaches to generate billions of dollars in real estate and tourist money.

As for the allegations that the Navy's use of the island resulted in the cancers there, I suggest we hold our opinions until a second valid scientific is completed. As previously noted, there may be a combination of genetic and environmental causes for the particular tumors being experienced by the population. Let the scientists do their work and publish the studies in peer-reviewed literature. I suspect that a good analysis of the filter-feeders found in these waters will give a fairly definitive answer fairly rapidly. Any human carcinogens that have made it into the food chain will likely be concentrated in the shellfish.

Semper Fi,

The_Mick   February 3rd, 2010 5:58 pm ET

Even though the article didn't bother to mention it, some may be interested to know that Vieques is a tiny island that's technically belongs to Puerto Rico.

The tourist propaganda at tells us that much of the land is "pristine". That makes one wonder how the contamination is occurring. Ground water contamination? Airborn?

In any case, the CDC has opened a new investigation and is not under the Bush doctrine of "no inspection" any more, so I'd say the island is NOT being forgotten.

Wilder   February 3rd, 2010 10:18 pm ET

When I lived in Puerto Rico from '94-99, I heard from many people about the high cancer rates in Vieques. While there, I only met one person from Vieques, an 18 year old girl who had terminal brain cancer. I don't know if the military testing resulted in their high cancer rates (something like 33% higher than normal) but I understand these to be the reasons why they believed the US would be capable of this.

1) The US Navy admitted using depleted uranium in their testing.
2) In 1931, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations purposely infected Puerto Ricans with cancer and 13 died. The man responsible, Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads, wrote a letter stating he thought the entire island's population should be exterminated
3) After being exonerated for the experiments, he worked in U.S. Army Biological Warfare and was behind later to be confirmed deadly experimentation on US soldiers and personnel.

Now, that was an isolated incident a long time ago and certainly today's America is much more noble now. But there could be something to these more recent allegations.

LEOPREZ   February 3rd, 2010 10:20 pm ET

The main reason the US Naval forces had a shooting range in Vieques is because no other Continental State will allow them to have one in their state. Vieques wants what any other place woul like a big polluter to do: Clean up the mess you have made, which US refused to do. But did and continue to do so in Europe and Germany, and thats a double standard.

comment   February 3rd, 2010 10:21 pm ET

Unfortunately they are being treated like Americans. They are being treated just like the country treats Native Americans. Its not ok in either instance. But unfortunately, it's pretty true.

Jose Figueroa   February 3rd, 2010 11:01 pm ET

I have been watching Vieques problems developing since I was a little kid living in Puerto Rico. It is sad to say, but a lot of people blamed the Navy and US goverment. I strongly believe that the local govertment is also at fault for their lack of caring on Vieques matters. When the Navy was there, the local goverments and residents of the Island blamed the high unemployment and others problems to the Navy, but after the Navy left they still have the same or even worse problems than when they were there. The local goverment for more than 60 years kept the Islanders of Vieques on their own and always place them in the bottom of their prioritys. Now we are wondering why the Federal Goverment has forgotten ths US citizen. Well the answer is very simple. Is the local goverment don't care how you going to make the Federal goverment to care. I blamed all Vieques Problems to all the Past administrations of Puerto RIco that have never show any respects and considerations to their own people and istead they have being playing politics with people lifes.

Louis Korn   February 3rd, 2010 11:21 pm ET

Thanks CNN for showing this tiny tip of a vast iceberg America has crashed on. A larger tip would illuminate agonies, genetic damage and deadly crippling for generations from such military practice. But billionaire-owned mainstream media won't show that. Might upset the status-quo. But our seemingly invincible police and military, secure from accountability and obedient to top-down authority, assures them that they needn't concern themselves about upsetting the insanely criminal and suicidal starus-quo.

Kareem   February 4th, 2010 2:34 am ET

Abbie, thank you so much for taking the time to visit my beautiful Island. First of All, I am truly disappointed from some of the comments from fellow Americans. Yes I consider my self American and Puerto Rican, because that is what I am. I am proud of both beautiful flags. I consider myself a patriot and proud to have served and still currently serve in Iraq and in United States Army as Paratrooper through two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan like so many other Puerto Ricans have done and are currently doing at this time. My father and grandfather are both War Veterans as welI, which should be no surprise as Puerto Ricans to include Viequenses having served in every single military conflict that the US has beeninvolved in. I am from Vieques, and I am completely in love with my Island. After my time serving the US ARMY is done I plan on moving back to Vieques, i would love to get involved in bettering the educations system down there. No I don't have a direct relative that is currently suffering from Cancer, but does every tobacco smoker die from lung cancer?? Of course not. What we must accept is that the people on Vieques ARE at a higher risk, there have been multiple test that show elevated levels of toxic metals. To orient those who do not know, the range was on the East of the Island, hurricanes and other strong storms come from the East which means these toxins would have blown East to West across the population of the Vieques. I don't necessarily believe that various amounts of money should be handed out, but I do believe that more emphasis should be placed by the government on resolving the issue. Vieques is a beautiful Island with very humble, friendly, and gorgeous people. For those reading, please do not let this story scare you from visiting. I recommend the trip to anyone, and please if you have doubts take a look for yourself. I myself will be visiting in May. Also the people down there are not just looking to get a paycheck, if anything the CNN exposure and the lawsuit results in a more widespread awareness of the issue. Those commenting to quote how Viequenses are "Lazy... Inbreed...etc people trying to milk the system" should be ashamed. That comment in particular was from a woman stating that she moved to the Island from Vieques and contributes the cancer to the above mentioned reasons as well as diet. The fact is that there is a large stateside American population that resides in Vieques now that thankfully do not share the same opinion of those people leaving these types of comments (please read comments on the actual articles). Yes the majority of the population of Vieques lives in poverty. As you can imagine there are not many career opportunities on an Island that small. When the Navy arrived a big career was working the sugar canes, the population was also nearly triple of what is is now. The Navy occupied 2/3 of the land many people had to move to the main land or St. Croix.

Abbie, what I humbly request and would like to see is a followup to this story, possibly with more interaction with the people showing the natural beauties of the Island and maybe even the history of the US Military in Puerto Rico, and the amount that have contributed their life in support of OUR Nation.

What I don't want is for people to completely abandon Vieques and fear visiting the beautiful Island because of the report, but rather come up with ways to resolve the Issue via better resources to dispose of munitions and the establishment of a better healthcare system and facilities on the Island capable of treating people that may have developed health issues as a result of the range.

Thank You all those that have taken the time to read this message.


Proud American, Puerto Rican, and Viequense Soldier

shannon taylor   February 4th, 2010 4:25 am ET

I hope CNN will have the courage to shine the same light here in Hawaii where the Big Island is facing the same issues of military contamination and disregard for the health of the citizens who live here. On going coverups and trying to skirt the problems are a full time job for the military and the NRC.

Like Vieques, the facts are being hidden from the public as the military expands and refuses to clean up their stockpiles of disgarded du, lead, and other deadly toxic waste strewn all over the island, and the ocean floor. It is Hawaii's dirty little secret that needs to be exposed.

What Environmental Protection Agency??? There is none.

Waldo   February 4th, 2010 7:54 am ET

These islanders are looking for a free lunch. As a navy pilot, I used to bomb the western end of the island with inert weapons. Aside from a lot of steel, there are no chemicals or liquids that cause real contamination.

Celina Hernandez   February 4th, 2010 8:18 am ET

Dear CNN<

The Big Island of Hawaii is so contaminated by missile testing that has been done (and continues to be done) by the US government that cancer rates are soaring on the island. Independent testing of depleted uranium levels is extremely necessary to assess the pollution, and a major, costly clean up needs to be put under way by the US government. IT IS A TRAGEDY what they have done to our very own islands. My sister, a healthy 37 year old, lived downwind from the naval base there, and she developed Acute Myeloid Leukemia two years ago. Lymphoma, leukemia, and a plethora of other cancers are occurring at alarming rates! Geiger readings reveal high radiation in the air that blows downwind. The government denies that there is a problem. PLEASE blow this issue open and make the US government stop the testing, and clean up the mess they have made.

Roseann Buritz   February 4th, 2010 8:34 am ET

How about the Big Island of Hawaii? The US military has been testing weapons there and depleted uranium has been found in Hawaii! Help protect the Hawaiian heritage!

Lanny Sinkin   February 4th, 2010 8:52 am ET

The story of depleted uranium (DU) is just beginning to come out. In Hawai'i, the military denied they had used DU for many years. When geiger counters spiked one day, the military finally admitted that DU had been left in the field with no attempt at disposal.

Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to give permits to the military to simply reclassify the polluted sites as dumps and leave the people to deal with the consequences.

In Iraq, the birth defect evidence is mounting up and Iraq is seeking compensation for the massive amounts of DU used during the war and left to poison the populace.

Let's hope that CNN follows the trail and tells the whole story.

SGT(p) Santiago   February 4th, 2010 10:13 am ET

It’s obvious that Mr. Knox and some other people that commented on this blog are a bunch of ignorant citizens of some bigot-riddled anti-immigrant small town. I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico; where at age 19 I walked into the recruiter station to serve in the military. I have served for 5 years and out of that time frame I have spent 27 months in combat zone. I’m currently set to redeploy back to the States. I’m a Sergeant promotable on a squad leader position, and out of 9 Soldiers in my squad, 3 of us were born in Puerto Rico. Our last Company Commander was also born there. We have two Sergeant Majors that were born in the island. Out of 81 Soldiers in our company, 8 were born in Puerto Rico. All of us are very proud of serving this great country. So when you decide to say that Puerto Ricans refuse to learn English and refuse to enlist, get out of your log cabin and take a look at the real America, there are a lot of Puerto Rican born American citizens serving in our military.

gs   February 4th, 2010 10:37 am ET

As a visitor to Vieques since 1992 and a property owner and part year resident since 1995, I have to say that your piece on Vieques this week falls far short of any acceptable standards of journalism.

I hold CNN in high regard, but the complete misrepresentation of the public health situation here and general lack of fact-checking throughout the piece is deeply disappointing. ("It's a fishing community"......... Please!!!)

You have done a great disservice to our beautiful, unspoiled island and it's people. The economy of Vieques, like most small islands in the Caribbean, depends on visitors and outside investment to sustain itself. Your portrayal of Vieques as a toxic waste site with a sick and neglected citizenry is simply ludricrous.

You may have been trying to be helpful, but this poorly researched piece will certainly do far more harm to the local economy going forward than anything the US government did or didn't do for Vieques in the past.

Puerto Rico visitor   February 4th, 2010 11:19 am ET

The majority of people who live on Vieques are not Americans. They are U.S. citizens, but not Americans. They are Puerto Ricans. I have visited Vieques and Puerto Rico more than 25 times over the past few years, I have a second home there. Ask any resident of Puerto Rico their nationality and they will reply "Puerto Rican", almost never American. There is a small colony of Americans living on Vieques. The controversy over Vieques has to do with overseas corporations buying land to develop hotels and resorts. It has nothing to do with poisons or contamination. A new 5-star resort will be opening on Vieques in 2010. The land is valuable and will soon be developed like its sister island, St Thomas.

Elma I. Hicks   February 4th, 2010 11:33 am ET

I was born and reared in Vieques. I remember the bombs all the time, shaking the house,very frightening... I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 in North Carolina. I want to be included on the list of other islanders that like me have been poisoned physically and mentally. Every time I go home I hear stories of families and friends illnesses or others have died very young. I'm optimistic that the Navy will be compassionate of all us affected and be responsible. I want to go back home and breathe pure air, enjoy the topography, feel safe wherever I go until I die.
Thanks to CNN/Campbell Brown story everyone away from Vieques that is having a hard time will voice their experience.


Benjamin Marantz   February 4th, 2010 11:39 am ET

I found the CNN report on Vieques to be very disturbing. Being a resident here on the Big Island of Hawaii, where military training and use of toxic weapons is still common practice today makes me question seriously whether the military has any concern at all for the well being of the American people. It's time to speak up and stop these insane practices!
In the peace and radiant health of all peoples. Benjamin Marantz

Nawahine   February 4th, 2010 11:57 am ET

How about the Hawaiian Islands? I live on the Big Island of Hawaii and we have been fighting the issue of depleted uranium for years.
The military uses our Island for war games on a regular basis.
The presence of depleted uranium as been establish and the military refuses monitoring of this dangerous toxic. The war games are conducted within close proximity to residental areas. We can hear & feel the bombing on a weekly basis. I wish CNN would do a special investigation on the military presence in Hawaii.

Emile Zola   February 4th, 2010 12:54 pm ET

Is the Pope catholic? Ever, since the inception of this frail democracy, the role of the government has been to deny any thing and every thing if there is a crime or wrong doing or liability. From agent orange to the atomic bombs, from LSD to syphilis, from WMDs to "we don't torture", things are stocked up always against the citizens and since America is the land of opportunity, translated: For the rich, the only ones that benefit are the rich and powerful; all others need not apply. There is a rule in government as with the industry, deny as many claims as possible, because, supposedly, only 10% of all claims ever make it to the court system, so for them, is a win, win situation. In 1992 I was denied disability, even though it was military service connected and I think it was in 60 Minutes that they reported how an Air Force general that had retired a month before had received 100% disability, even though, he was receiving flying duty pay. Something is wrong in Denmark, I mean America and politics should be banned from possible government malfeasances.

Gunny G   February 4th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

Interesting that Puerto Ricans consider themselves to be Americans. They have their own flag and wish to have independant representation in the sports world. So what is unusual about this beggar nation having it's hand out to the taxpaying mainland to fund their island lifestyle,'s the status quo!

Barbara Moore   February 4th, 2010 1:05 pm ET

Americans ARE being forgotten about–especially the Hawaiians who culturally prefer to not "make hoohoo" about anything. Very few Hawaiians complain. Yet, Hawaii has been contaminated and people here in Hawaii are sick because of the toxic material left by the bombing practice the army insists upon continuing with "for the safety of our troops." What about the safety of the residents of the islands?
As president of the Big Island Health and Wellness Alliance, I have testified against the continued military activities that stir up the residue of Depleted Uranium that we are downwind of here in Kona where our cancer rates are higher than anywhere else on the island.
While demonstrating against DU in 2007 where a dust devil blew across the Saddle Road near an army training camp (PTA), I witnessed dangerous levels of uranium on a device that we had with us. That was when the army finally confessed to having used weapons that had depleted uranium. BUT–they assured us that it was nothing to worry about. My research indicates the opposite is true.
It is fortunate that CNN is listening to us because our government is not.

Mike A   February 4th, 2010 1:34 pm ET

Very grateful to CNN for reporting on this. Impressed by their work and hope they will continue to focus on this story which matters to all Americans. This is not how we want such a dream land to be treated or how we want the military to act.

diane corcoran   February 4th, 2010 1:40 pm ET

How do we get the all powerful to listen? Here in Hawaii we have rich military and police while schools and civil courts are having furlough.The frustration is causing as much damage as the d.u. so I am doubly troubled as are so very many.Hawaii needs to sue too. Aloha,Subhadra

Janna   February 4th, 2010 2:13 pm ET

I was stationed at Roosevelt Roads, PR for several years in the early 80s.

The Puerto Ricans did NOT want us there and made their feelings very clear on that matter. We were even instructed not to wear our uniforms off base in order to help avoid any possible confrontations with the islanders, and were also discouraged from going off base alone or not in a group. T

The Viequans also complained of our presence, but both they and the Puerto Ricans eagerly sought jobs on our bases and enjoyed the fruits of tourism and the money spent locally by the military personnel stationed there. The economy was pretty bad when I was there and I can only imagine how bad it is now that the military is gone.

I agree that the islanders basically want their cake and to eat it too. If it turns out that Vieque's population does have an inordinate number of cancer cases, it will be no different from the many cancer clusters in the contintental U.S. left by military installations, privately owned factories and so forth. It sucks, but they're not the only ones.

mleak   February 4th, 2010 2:15 pm ET

I think everyone has missed something. Everyone is dying of cancer in america do to our government getting money under the table from chemical manufactors, the pharmaceutical industry and every other corporate giant that wants to do God know what to the land and the people for their own gain. Even the medicine that is appoved without the proper amount of time to test is killing people. Hell, I feel bad about the people of Vieques but please not we have a very dirty government and they don't care about any of us just the all mighty dollar.

The quickest way to destroy a man is to give him to much power. When i look at all of them gather together in congress and senate, I get a certain good feeling inside to know that God will Judge them correctly.

Lindafaye Kroll RN BSN   February 4th, 2010 2:27 pm ET

Aloha from Hawai'i

The Hawaiian islands have much in common with Vieques and other US military locations throughout the Pacific Rim. An excellent source and research of the US military's impact in these areas, including Hawai'i can be found on DMZ Hawaii website.

Hawaii has shown its solidarity with Vieques back in August 1999 see:

In Hawai'i we are trying to get our concerns heard. We know there is tremendous military caused pollution here. Most of the contamination has been revealed in military records which has been thoroughly researched by DMZ Hawaii Aloha Aina.

Since 2005, and the discovery of DU contamination, we have asked to halt all live fire training until comprehensive, transparent testing can be completed. We want 24/7 transparent air monitoring started around all live fire training ranges. We need this testing to know what kind of pollutants are reaching our communities. We only want to protect ourselves and our children. We want a clean Hawai'i.
Lindafaye Kroll RN BSN

mleak   February 4th, 2010 2:44 pm ET

I think everyone has missed something. Everyone is dying of cancer in america do to our government getting money under the table from chemical manufactors, the pharmaceutical industry and every other corporate giant that wants to do God know what to the land and the people for their own gain. Even the medicine that is appoved without the proper amount of time to test is killing people. Hell, I feel bad about the people of Vieques but please note we have a very dirty government and they don't care about any of us just the all mighty dollar.

The quickest way to destroy a man is to give him to much power. When i look at all of them gather together in congress and senate, I get a certain good feeling inside to know that God will Judge them correctly.

Victor Gutierrez   February 4th, 2010 4:45 pm ET

Wher are all the "Big names"; Rev. jesse Jackson, Rite Moreno, James Olmos, etc. which were there protesting to get the Navy out? Now they need to get back there and start helping with jobs creation, visit stay there and find ways to help the people they so eagerly used for their own benefit. I am not saying the Navy should go back, but I think when all the people went there to protest they never cared for what was going to happens afterwards. Now is the time to show they were not just looking for a little camera (air time) time when the proptests wre going on.
They should have left the protest to the people who live and suffer in Vieques.

Bonnie Bator   February 4th, 2010 5:24 pm ET

4 February 2010

ALOHA Folks @ CNN:

PLEASE add the Big Island (island of Hawai`i) to your investigation of DU. It is crucial to have the caliber of CNN Kokua (help) us here in Hawai`i address this SERIOUS health issue.

MAHALO Plenty for your consideration in this grave contamination of DU on the Big Island of Hawai`i...

Sincerely with ALOHA, Bonnie

W.N. Sanabria   February 4th, 2010 7:38 pm ET

This is aimed at the (thankfully) few commentators who question the level of patriotism of the Americans who happen to have been born in Puerto Rico (including Vieques). Many thousands of us have served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces. There ae more than a few whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial War or who have returned from the Middle East only for their funeral. You should try to live near an artillery practice range for 20 or 30 years and then you can feel fee to question them.

Alicia   February 4th, 2010 9:03 pm ET

Ignorance is is completely untrue that Puerto Ricans refuse to learn English and refuse to enlist...please have the correct facts before talking BS. I am PuertoRican and I have many friends in the military and all of my friends and family know English. In fact in all the schools they teach English as the second language. Many young people are bilingual. I am not sure the military actions in Vieques is the reason for high cancer incidence in there, but one thing I am sure...all US citizens (right terminology) have the right to fight for a better environment, better health and deserve answers when they think that something was done wrong and when new generations are suffering from it. That is the point about trying to find a answer...and if is true the military is responsible they should compensate these families for all the suffering. I am pretty sure any US citizen will fight from the same rights if they have the same situation in any of the states. By the way, there are also US citizens living in the continental USA that refuse to enlist in the that has nothing to do with the problem in question.

william   February 4th, 2010 10:31 pm ET

The folks in here dont think that people from PR are American enough .Well my fellow Americans I am an American Citizen from PR. When I was in the military USN, I was as proud as any other service member from the continental US. I Think people of Vieques are as patriots as the ones from Idaho or Texas. Lets remeber 60 yrs of military practice with artillery made of uranium right next to your back yard fence has to have an adverse effect in the people living there. I think those people have been patriot enough to endure this kind of treatment for 60 yrs. This dont ussually happen in the continental States because the people there have a congress delegation that respond to them. Unfortunately, 4 million Puertorricans dont have a congress delegation neither a presidential vote. Along the history Puerto Rican soldiers and their families have fight for democracy together with the other service members from the states. The only diference was that the Puerto Ricans fought for a democracy that they have never fully see. It is time to make justice for the spanish speaking Americans citizens living in Vieques and to the rest of PR. Give their full rigths ,statehood and respect that any American and American territory deserves.It is the right and fair thing to do.If not, ask our founding father how was to be living in a colony before the US independence.

Alice Deere   February 4th, 2010 11:22 pm ET

The tragic thing is the military has always, always lied and/or downplayed the full extent of their DU contaminations, so that they only admitted to 250 odd A10 rounds whereas it was widely known in the service how much DU was used on Vieques. The military lied about using DU in Hawaii until citizens caught them in the lie, then they had to admit it. They lied about DU in Afghanistan and Iraq. Take a look at combat videos and you will see how much DU is being used TODAY under Commander Obama. Obama is a major perpetrator today of DU munitions and he is not on anyone's side except Wall Street and the Israeli lobby. Remember it was Israel that first used DU in combat in the seventies, if we forget about Operation Arctlight in the Central Highlands in the sixties. And oh yeah, Panama in 1989. Kahoolawe was heavily bunker bustered, and was never cleaned up. No one can go to the site of the major bunker buster explosions. It was used to test until 1990 so it was used in the runup to the first US uranium war, Gulf War I.

Magdalene   February 5th, 2010 2:22 am ET

I live on Hawaii Island.. another beautiful paradise that is not like 'America' but is actually 'America'. Here too we have Depleted Uranium blowing in the wind over our island population. Unexplained 'cancer clusters' have shown up 'down-wind' of Pohakuloa -the Military base at the top of our Mountain! The Military lied for years to the people of Hawaii and said that there was never D.U. used. Then, when they got caught out with this lie, they changed their story and told people they couldn't be sure how much was used because records weren't kept. They tell people that the D.U. is harmless but it's fake science. Sure, D.U. outside the body emits low radiation but to understand D.U. is to understand that it only takes a minute particle up against a cell to begin to cause mutation and damage to that cell. And folks.. that's exactly what is happening and Army veterans (causing all kinds of side effects depending on the cells and organs affected) or civillians in the vicinity of D.U. contamination are showing up with cancers and all kinds of health problems. On a global level, greater and greater levels of D.U.are contaminating our upper atmosphere in the 'jet streams' around the globe. Nuclear War actually began when the U.S. Military started using D.U. weapons in 'Gulf War 1' but most people are unaware of this fact! In Hawaii we have been asking that we have independent scientists monitor the air quality around the military base. If it really is true that the D.U. is stable and hasn't contaminated our island, why won't they provide air and soil monitoring data? In recent months the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been preparing to grant the Military a 'license' to have 'nuclear waste' on our base 'Pohakulao'. The catch is that while they have a lengthy examination process, actually they have NEVER denied any application from the U.S. Military. It looks like court action is the only way the people can protect their health and future generations is with a law suit! CNN- please help us uncover the truth about D.U. here. The people need to be protected from the lies and the 'Dust Unwelcome' that is causing so many cancers and birth defects wherever it has been used. Mahalo plenty!

Proud PR   February 5th, 2010 3:53 am ET

I think the people making comments about Puerto Ricans not contributing to the main land should do some research before they talk.. because a large majority of PR are not on welfare and they pay plenty of taxes. Also look into all the wars after the Spanish – American War , we had a large amount of PR's in those wars and many died for this USA not for Puerto Rico. Anyway the true americans are the America Indian, haven't you learned that in school or are you still living in a trailer park.... i take that back . i will not lower myself to ignorance.

Deepsea35   February 5th, 2010 7:08 am ET

I am a former military member, who served and lived in Puerto Rico. I'm also a farmboy from Northwestern Pa., and an active environmentalist. Here's a newsflash.....almost all the undersea area around the inhabited "tourist" portions of Puerto Rico is decimated. Dead coral, few fish and (To an experienced diver) a biological graveyard. When I dove and explored Vieques, I saw the first inkling of what Puerto Rico USED to be like before the population fished it out and polluted it. 10,000 Twinkie wrappers a day get buried or dumped at sea in Puerto you get it? IT'S AN ISLAND! People cannot imagine the pure massive volume of waste and trash produced by people there. Think about it....where do you think it all goes? Out of the 100s and 100s of automobiles scrapped each week, where do you think they go?
Because the Navy kept Vieques off-limits, the water and soil there tests "cleaner" than any city-lot downtown. One standard military "bomb" laying in the sand exudes a tiny fraction of the hazardous materials that an old ford pickup does, and there's a heck of a lot more pickups on Puerto Rico. Nobody wants to hear that, though, because they would have to take responsibility for actually handling their waste. It's a lot easier to repeatedly sue the cash cow of our government. Check Vieques in 10 years. What the military kept "pristine" for 50 or 60 years, will be a polluted, environmentally dead tourist haven.
Hollywood makes the military seem like some giant evil entity. It's not. It's you, and me, and thousands of other good Americans (including Puerto Ricans) trying to do a good job. There's no "plot" to abuse Puerto Rico and then desert them. There are, however, thousands of lawsuits from social leeches who want to grab a few million dollars here and there from our government. CNN should do a story on THAT.

Lisa   February 5th, 2010 9:02 am ET

Vieques which is part of Puerto Rico is a territory of Th U.S. I was stationed there for three years, and loved it, but the entire time I was there, they wanted us gone. They protested and harassed us as we tried to get on the base. They do not want to be a "State", they want to remain their own government, yet they complain that they are not treated like "Americans" It needs to be one way or the other.

Kay   February 5th, 2010 2:03 pm ET

"Americans"? Pluuuuseeez! What kind of MORONS are the people
to continue to live in a third world Chernobal? They don't even
speak English! Why don't they all go to San Juan where all the
other Ricans live off medicaid and food stamps!
Whine, Whine, Whine. Tell them to go to Haiti to live, the Haitians
are more fluent in English than they are!

Donald Harp   February 5th, 2010 3:38 pm ET

America needs to take responsability for our actions.I pray to God,The foundation of our country.That this new investigation will reveal the whole truth nothing but the truth.In God we trust! Mr. D. Harp

Teresa   February 5th, 2010 4:02 pm ET

Hawaii needs independent testing and monitoring NOW!!!

paul from canada   February 5th, 2010 8:55 pm ET

It is not humanly fair to over look these peoples cancer problems, i believe personally that the problem is from the military exercises there, just because you were stationed there in the military does not make you a expert at diagnosing what caused the cancer, i do not know , i would think the explosion residues found it,s way into the water by rainfall run off and quite possible was in shell fish for many years, which may have cleared it,s contamination in the shell fish by now, i believe the american goverment has grossly ,deliberately overlooked these people, they are all over in haiti helping there for which i am greatfull , but they all neglect the disaster they caused on this island, but look what the american goverment did in vietnam,afghanistan, iraq, palistine, the millions of innocent civilians they murdered there does not bother them, it is not likely this little islands people will either,

E   February 6th, 2010 9:48 am ET

As with any situation of this kind one needs to experience it for themselves to truly understand or at the very least open your heart and mind to the whole story.

I visited Vieques a few years ago. It was a heartbreaking situation. To hear of how land owners were stripped of their property ; given only hours to take what they could and leave. A life once uncomplicated and beautiful now made uncertain and ugly. To see what life is there now; To fear what will become of both the islands almost unspeakable natural beauty and the native people.

Just for a moment imagine it happening to you – let's say in Washington DC for instance. Being forced out of your home and off your land right now. Loosing it all – not to a natural disaster or personal misfortune but to the US government itself. Given nothing to help you start again. Forced into poverty for the sake of weapons testing. Now imagine yourself years from now coming down with cancer as you see those around you suffering the same at alarming rates. Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you want a solution of some kind – any kind?

Is it the US military that created the problems of Vieques? Perhaps. Is it ignorance? Perhaps. Is it the failure of Puerto Rico itself to represent the unique situation of Vieques? Perhaps. Does PR even really have a voice at all with no official representation? Likely. Does it all just seem wrong and unfair? Most certainly.

Whatever the cause, Vieques is weak and vulnerable now.

I fear it's natural resources will be the next to suffer at the hand of greedy developers.

Thank you CNN for bringing this story some of the attention it deserves.

Gloria   February 6th, 2010 11:44 am ET

The political relationship with Puerto Rico is quite complicated. Even the Puerto Ricans are undecided as to their status~ witness the many elections on statehood, independence, or remaining a commonwealth. Puerto Rico was given this special status that is governed by many laws. They aren't forgotten, as they receive billions of dollars from our Federal Government every year and have many of our amenities like the U.S. Post Offices, Coast Guard, etc.
When we lived there, only 13% of the islanders spoke English. The unemployment rate and crime rates are extremely high, which are some of the reasons why so many Puerto Ricans fly to the mainland to live and work. Remember the history of Vieques, it was settled by squatters, who later claimed the land they built on. The situation is not as one-sided as this article makes it sound and appear. Do the research. The Navy invested millions in Vieques and employed many.
Don't be so quick to judge a situation in which all the facts have not presented ~ this article lacks objectivity and the glosses over the science and history.

Jofas   February 6th, 2010 12:38 pm ET

The same thing happened to Guam but....

Read what it says near the bottom next to "Marbo Annex".

The military destroyed the sole source Water Aquifer. Now has to get a Federal EPA waiver because the United States can't afford to clean it.

There are 100+ military dumps on Guam. They know how the people of Vieques feel.

Now the US is going to move the 3rd Marines from Japan to Guam. All their kids and wives will be drinking trichloroethylend as well as other contaminates like Chlordane and dioxins.

Guam is much worse than Vieques. Why do the people get fat (dioxins) and die very young? It's the water they drink...the air they breath...all the VOC's and hydrocarbons evaporating out of the 100+ military dumpsites. They've even found chemical weapons burried in the ground.

And no one will dig up the 100+ military dumpsites. They are afraid at what they would find.

pjod   February 6th, 2010 8:18 pm ET

i have been going to the island for over 20years. my parents and sister live there for half the year. ihave to say that the island is not anything like they say it is. the cancer rate is high, just as high as is it where i live. do yourself a favor and dont go there, and if you have, dont tell anyone about it. THE BEST ISLAND THERE IS. good people good place good times

janice glennie   February 7th, 2010 1:46 am ET

Vieques and hawai`i island share much - for better and worse. The land and people of both are being sacrificed in the name of national "security", and the questions of how they're being sacrificed are showing up in the increased dis-ease of the people who live there.

Independent, transparent investigation is long overdue. Military bases must be tested for depleted uranium and the use of these ranges stopped until there's proof positive that toxic particulates aren't killing those who the military is supposedly meant to protect.

DC   February 8th, 2010 1:25 pm ET

CNN- shame on you for your horrible example of journalism. What you are doing is NOT helping the people of Vieques at all- you just did the opposite, as well as hurt the rest of the people who visit and live there. The island has less than 10,000 residents, and i can tell you that most all 7,000 on the law suit are people looking for a handout from the US Govt. While the bombing that occurred and the fall out and any sickness should not be forgiven and taken care of, by the US Government, TOURISM is what these people live off daily and is their future. You have only hurt that by NOT showing the island as it really is and what is being done to fix and repair what the Navy left behind. The island is beautiful and getting even more visitor friendly and their economy was on the way up to help provide an better life for the residents of the island.

What you didn't tell is that there has been for year hundreds of men and women who are working daily to clean up all munitions and pollution the Navy left. The Navy is spending millions of dollars to clean the island and to restore any areas it affected. There is very little (if any) sign that the Navy was ever there unless you went to the ends of the island and looked for it (areas off limits today). While there are many people who resisted the Navy being there, there are also many residents who were sad to see them leave due to all of the financial support the Navy brought to the island. i do not know the pure medical affect the bombing had, and there are conflicted reports to see if this affect is real or not as many people all over the are sick...but you chose to bury a island that did not need your version of journalism.

It was chosen as one best island in the caribbean for a reason, and deserves to have a real story with INTEGRITY written on it, showing more than one side of the island and not trying to destroy the island and the lives of those living on it. I guess this is something apparently CNN and Campbell Brown chooses not to do, only to make sensational are looking more like FOX daily...shame on you CNN and campbell brown...hope your home town gets ruined due to some journalist trying to sell a story and get sensational rating...

Dave   February 8th, 2010 1:47 pm ET

Quit running this inaccurate story until you decide to get all the facts and the real story. You are only hurting the island, not helping it. If you want to help the island and its residents, you just did the opposite.

Please get all the facts before you ruin this beautiful island the integrity of journalism...stop with the story OR get the ALL the facts and tell it correctly. For those of us who live on Vieques and love it , we see that it is sad what little you learned or knew before your attempt at journalism.

Those who were impressed and support your story either don't know the island, and history (but believe you) or are locals looking for a easy handout.

A. Smith, Oregon   February 12th, 2010 7:11 pm ET

Native American Children in South and North Dakota desperately need your help with food, medicine, shelter and many of them have no power while the horrific blizzard sweeps over their reservations.

Navajo Background: "Centuries of abuse and neglect of the original inhabitants of what is now the United States has not ended. Our reservations are still like third world countries. When massive ice storms and high winds hit the reservations in the Dakotas mid January poor housing, weak heating systems, sparse cupboards, lack of warm clothing and health problems make it difficult to survive. Add to that a utilities infrastructure that was brought to its knees on the Cheyenne River Reservation when 3000 poles and power lines came down from 6 inches of ice weight also crippling the water system. Ongoing storm conditions hampered repair. The reservation has been without power since Jan. 21st and Federal funds are still weeks away".

The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Home Assistance) programs ran out of winter funding in early December.

jollyd   March 26th, 2010 4:49 pm ET

I'm traveling to Vieques tomorrow and plan to spend my American cash. It's 39 in NYC and 88 on the island. Ahhhh, can't wait.

Besides, I think the crap (air pollution, EMR, cellphones, noise, people with who knows what) I'm absorbing in Manhattan on a daily basis is probably more of a health risk than being in Vieques. Not to mention my wife's cooking, beeraam bum, tishh. Got a million of'em.

Hasta pronto mis amigos

Traveling Doctor Dan   June 1st, 2010 12:33 am ET

Wow! I was there on an assignment. Not that many I saw were sick so as to prove the cause. Mercury in the waters are high. Tides shift and the readings are not a stable assessment therein.
I read some outlandish crimes lately, makes me sad what happens now. The feature was on viequesalert when coverage is real accurate to what i witnessed. Incidentally, more tests are in process.
I just wanted to thank the reporter at for their insight as well. I hope the children receive the medical care asap.

Take care all.
Dr. Dan
Trauma Unit
St. Francis Hospital

Manny HM   July 8th, 2010 8:17 am ET

People living in or near a military base should expect pollution to occur.
That's just the nature of any military installation. Under the cloak of classified military secrets, safety of present or future occupants is usually forgotten. I wish there's a way to make a military base less polluted when dealing with depleted uranium, lead, toxic chemicals, etc.

Frank   July 8th, 2010 9:46 am ET

I was in the Navy in 1979. We used the island for target practice. Good times, good times.

JJ   October 6th, 2010 3:08 pm ET

It's funny so many people here have made up their mind without ANY HARD proof whatsoever. So why not let them test and see why it's happening, for all they KNOW it could be the bio-luminescent in the water interacting with the abundant chemicals in processed foods they eat.

See how easy it is to make up stuff without scientific proof?

Traveling Doctor Dan   October 28th, 2010 8:54 pm ET

Congratulations to the Puerto Rican and Vieques and Municipal Police for their character! Way to go! More congratulations to the AGENTS of the – FBI – apparently this is an operation "Guard Shack" and something like over 100 indicted -arrested and all that good stuff.
Who is in charge there? What is going on?
enough said...

A 15 yr Latino visitor   December 13th, 2010 8:05 am ET

A truly unfortunate article for the native hardworking people of Vieques by an exploitative correspondent seeking to expense a brief visit to a paradise lost to virtually the rest of the world.

Start with a desire to learn about the island nation of Puerto Rico, and explore the phenomena of an "island off an island."

A little bit of knowledge is truly a dangerous thing.

Traveling Doctor Dan   February 6th, 2011 8:05 pm ET

Recently viewed>>>>> ( webste and see that the murder rate was the highest EVER this past January! Vieques has had 12 HOMICIDES alone. This place is crazy. Thank GOD we escaped with our family safely!!!
Happy New Year Friends!

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