BUDPR Denounces Exclusion of Vieques and Culebra Cleanup Provision in National Defense Authorization Act

December 14, 2023

Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (BUDPR) denounces the United States Congress’ failure to adopt a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring a Comptroller General report on the acceleration and improvement of environmental cleanup in Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico.

The provision, originally introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, had the support of a dozen organizations from Puerto Rico and the United States who sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier this year demanding its adoption in the final bill.

The federal cleanup of Vieques and Culebra after decades of harmful bombing remains woefully slow and inadequate. In a previous report, the U.S. government acknowledged that the cleanup would continue until at least 2032—more than 30 years after the U.S. Navy left Vieques. Now Puerto Ricans are being denied critical information about the pace and progress of these efforts.

“As usual, Puerto Rico is given the lowest priority and our needs are the first on the chopping block in negotiations,” said BUDPR President Alberto Medina. “The National Defense Authorization Act is a 3,000-page, $886 billion piece of legislation. The fact that Congress can’t even commit to producing a single report on an issue vital to the health and safety of Puerto Ricans is insulting, and tells us all we need to know about the United States’ continued neglect of its colony.”

The cleanup of Vieques and Culebra joins a long list of issues—including Puerto Rico’s colonial status—on which this Congress and this presidential administration have ignored, neglected, and failed the Puerto Rican people. Those failures are not lost on the millions of Puerto Rican voters in the United States with the 2024 elections fast approaching.