Will Vieques still be Vieques?

Since the Navy left Isla Nena, the number of Americans coming from the mainland has doubled. Will Vieques no longer be Vieques?

“According to different real state websites, houses in their neighborhood cost between $250,000 and $300,000. That is at least twice the price of a house like this in any other neighborhood in Puerto Rico, outside the metropolitan area…

What happens to them is just an example of what has been happening in Vieques since the end of the bombings. When bombings ended, the island´s world-class beaches attracted a lot of people that are now interested in buying properties everywhere, which is changing its social fabric.

Properties prices skyrocketed with the tourism boom. Americans have established high-end hotels and restaurants, where Viequenses, who remain poor, have no access…

Vieques becomes Americanized 

Here, American residents doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While in 2000, the census counted 422 Americans on the island; in 2017, the American Community Survey estimated them at 900…

At the same time, the number of Puerto Ricans here, as on the rest of the island, has declined. In 2000, there were 8,660; in 2010, there were 8,602. The 2017 estimate says there are 8,528 Puerto Ricans in Vieques today…

This pattern, according to multiple interviewees, reflects the “gentrification” phenomenon here, which is what happens when the value in certain geographical areas grows abruptly and its original inhabitants are displaced by people with greater purchasing power…

El Nuevo Día toured around the island 20 years after that defining event. Transformation is clear everywhere. In some areas, like La Esperanza, people speak more English than Spanish. There are no viequenses-owned businesses in the area by, except for La Nasa bar, which was destroyed by Hurricane María in 2017 and now only opens at weekends. Businesses in Isabel II, the urban center of the island, are often full of tourists.

Neighborhoods are full of hostels. There are now more than 100 hotels and dozens of short-term rental residences on the island. (Actually, according to Estudios Tecnicos, there are more than 600 just in Airbnb). When the Navy was here, there were no more than 20 hotels. ”

See the whole El Nuevo Dia article here




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