Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Teresa Sabol Spezio

Reader 2

Vanessa Tyson

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Rights Information

© 2017 Kaya G. Mark


After sixty-two years of U.S. military testing, the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques and its residents continue to fight against ongoing environmental and social effects of U.S. hegemony. Starting with the arrival of the Spanish, then with U.S. occupation and use of Vieques as a military stopover, Viequense residents are used to U.S. governmental presence on their land. Despite the military’s removal from Vieques in 2003, many local residents have a fundamental lack of trust for the U.S. government. Because of this lack of trust and transparency with U.S. governmental actions in the post- World War II period, residents of Vieques do not see any difference between the USFWS, the EPA, CH2M Hill, and the U.S. Navy. However, many acknowledge that the U.S. government’s involvement may be good for the island, so there is some ambivalence about the U.S. government’s continued presence on the island, its role in developing Vieques, and bettering its current economic situation. While the majority of local activists claim that naval activities negatively affected island life through contamination of land and surrounding waters, also resulting in a range of human health problems, others argue that the U.S. Navy should not be demonized, and the island’s role in conservation should be paramount. These differing views reflect two opposing frameworks: one fighting against a colonizer and U.S. hegemony, and the other promoting a primarily conservation-based framework meant to protect non-human residents.