The U.S. Navy annexed about two-thirds of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in the 1940s and kept control of that land for decades, using it for military training.
The accidental death of a Viequense civilian on the naval base in 1999 kicked off a series of protests against the U.S. military presence on the island. The protests received international attention, and many prominent people (incuding Ricky Martin, Rosie Perez, Jesse Jackson, and Rigoberta Menchu) visited the island to show their support.
One of the visitors was attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of John F. Kennedy. Robert ended up serving 30 days in prison in mid-2001 for his involvement in the protests.
On July 13, while Kennedy was incarcerated, his wife Mary gave birth to a baby boy named Aidan Caomhan Vieques Kennedy. Mary said, “I think that when he is older, the child will understand why he has the name of Vieques and how important it is and he’ll be proud to be a part of that history.”
The place name Vieques is based on the Taíno name for the island: Bieke, meaning “small land.”
The protests eventually convinced the U.S. Navy to leave Vieques in the early 2000s. Much of the former Navy-controlled land is now a national wildlife refuge.
- “Newest Kennedy a Vieques Namesake.” Sun-Sentinel 28 Jul. 2001.
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – Wikipedia
- Vieques, Puerto Rico – Wikipedia