La Pecera (The Fishbowl)
By: Dr. Claus Mueller
Premiering this year at the Sundance festival, the 2022 film La Pecera by Glorimar Marrero Sanchez is her first feature film. It reflects in an exemplary manner her focus on colonialism, gender, and aging. Two parallel stories are intertwined- a Puerto Rican artist, Noelia, played by Isel Rodriguez, suffering from terminal cancer, decides to return to her home in the small island of Vieques, located next to eastern Puerto Rico with a small population close to 10000. She decides to live where she grew up and refuses to return to Puerto Rico to continue her medical treatment. In Vieques she has no access to medical staff or prescriptions. Despite her worsening condition, Noelia strives to have a normal life with friends and so teams up with community members. As in the last few decades, the people living there continue to oppose the US military presence and its impact on Vieques and the contamination of the land and surrounding sea.
The island is a showcase of U.S. colonialism. Corporate and military expropriation of the land destroyed the local agriculture. Eighty percent of Vieques land came under the control of the US military. The navy transformed large tracts of the land into bombing ranges and testing grounds. After sixty years of such use ending in 2003 much of the restricted area for testing bombs left land and sea remain poisoned with toxic military hardware. Noelia joins friends in a diving exploration of former bomb testing sections to document hazardous waste- much of the land formerly used by the U.S. Navy, now a national wildlife refuge, is still closed because of contamination. Health data reveals an underserved Vieques has a cancer rate that is 30% higher than on the main island.