Video: The Vieques Struggle

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In January of 2005 a group of faculty, graduate social work students and alumni from the University of Connecticut took part in a ten day travel course to San Juan and Vieques, Puerto Rico, as part of an exchange program with the University of Puerto Rico. The purposes of the course were: 1) to learn about the history of Puerto Rico and the traditional values/customs; 2) to increase understanding of the social, economic, political, psychological and cultural dynamics that impact the lives of Puerto Ricans; 3) heighten awareness of migration patterns, cultural identity formation and the impact of colonization, oppression and racism on Puerto Ricans. The visit to Vieques, Puerto Rico, was a planned learning experience to expose participants to human rights violations and social injustices occurring on the island.

As a consequence of sixty years of bombardment and military maneuvers by the United States Navy, Vieques water, soil and air are contaminated with alarming levels of heavy metals and toxins. Such physical conditions have affected the health and quality of life of thousands of children and adults. In May of 2005, after years of peaceful protests and civil demonstrations by the Puerto Rican people and their supporters, the Navy withdrew its troops. To date, the Navy has made no efforts to restore the environment, especially wild life preservation. The health crisis caused by six decades of war maneuvers and bombardment of the island continues to plague the island and its people.

Motivated by their visit to Vieques and discussions with island residents, students developed this film to publicize the years of human rights struggles by island residents. The health crisis, health disparities, and reparation claims against the United States Navy are documented in this film as a means of advocacy and show of support to the ongoing struggle. It should be noted that while the development of this film was supported by the university’s faculty and staff, the content and focus of the film is student-driven. As a consequence, the power of its message is a tribute to University of Connecticut social work students’ commitment to social justice for Vieques, Puerto Rico. The film is shared with others to raise awareness and in the hopes that others will raise their voices and take action to advocate on behalf of the people of Vieques.

La lucha no ha terminado. La lucha continúa.
The fight has not ended.