This article delves into the history of medical institutions, birthing practices, and reproductive rights in Vieques. The exploration exposes contradictions at the heart of Puerto Rico’s colonial modernity. Around the middle of the twentieth century, Puerto Ricans were encouraged to depend on the colonial state and medical establishment for guarantee of life, health, and general well-being. This encouragement clashed with the militarized colonialism imposed on Viequenses. The 1940s expropriations—through which the U.S. Navy gained control over three-fourths of Vieques—devastated the community. And the interventions by the colonial state and medical establishment proved at times meek, complicit, and ineffective. In 2003, unruly colonial citizens evicted the Navy. Their actions were part of a struggle for the survival and well-being of the Viequense island community. In this article, the author argues that la lucha viequense has been fundamentally shaped by the concerns and actions of women who placed reproductive rights at the center of the struggle.

You do not currently have access to this content.