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HomeAbout NBHRNViequesTropical Disconnect

Tropical Disconnect

By Mark Potter, NBC News correspondent

Arriving on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico recently, it was clear we had come to an extraordinarily beautiful place. The beaches are gorgeous, the water is crystal clear, the tourist hotels and restaurants are laid-back and the tropical vegetation and terrain are stunning, especially in the fiery light of sundown.

Looking below the surface here, though, we found a lingering and ugly controversy involving allegations of environmental contamination by the U.S. military and elevated health risks to long-time residents. In the words of a lawsuit filed by more than 7,000 plaintiffs against the U.S. government, “residents of Vieques experience a 30% higher rate of cancer, a 381% higher rate of hypertension, a 99% higher rate of cirrhosis of the liver and a 41% higher rate of diabetes than the rest of Puerto Rico.”

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