Historic Afro-Caribbean community at risk

A community center that was destroyed by the coastal erosion in Loíza, Puerto Rico, in June 2019.



LOÍZA, Puerto Rico — The waves crashed loudly on the collapsed ruins of the Paseo del Atlántico, a walkway that once partially protected residents here from the volatile ocean. Erosion along this northernmost coast of Puerto Rico, nearly 20 miles east of San Juan, precipitated the promenade’s destruction for more than a decade and, in 2012, it finally fell into the Atlantic, exposing the Parcelas Suárez neighborhood to the water’s edge.

Its 1,560 locals now fear daily for their homes and lives.

Parcelas Suárez straddles Loíza’s gloried waterfront. Its largely Afro-Caribbean community has little choice but to be active in the fight for its future — and hold the federal and local government responsible for bad decision-making in planning their communities, developing projects on the coasts and the lack of follow up.

The mayor’s office keeps a running tally of the town’s community leaders — currently 32 — as they search for assistance, claims and services for the nearly 25,000 who reside in Loíza.


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