Robert Rabin, an expert on Vieques, Puerto Rico history and a resident of the island for over 20 years will lecture on the history of this controversial island and the impact that on-going U.S. naval bombardment of the island has had on the people and the environment there. He will also talk about the modern history of military colonialism in the Caribbean region.
Since the 1940s, the United States has taken over increasing amounts of Vieques land for use by the U.S. Navy for military exercises and munitions storage. The resulting economic, environmental and social problems have been documented by numerous scholars and have generated a strong resistance on Vieques and throughout Puerto Rico to the U.S. Navy. In July, 2001, the people of Vieques voted overwhelmingly against the Navy presence. The U.S. government has yet to recognize this legal referendum.
The accidental killing of a civilian on Vieques in 1999 by a U.S. Navy bomb sparked a massive year-long civil disobedience campaign on the beaches used by the Navy for bombing practice. When U.S. Marshals forcibly removed the protesters, 100,000 Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan against the Navy.
Robert Rabin is currently the Director of the Vieques Museum of Art and History.