Ceiba has recently been at a crossroads, since the relatively “rushed” closing of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in early 2004. The base had for decades provided jobs for a large percentage of residents, recently pumping up to $300 million dollars a year into the economy. However, Roosevelt Roads had mainly served to support military operations in the nearby island of Vieques, operations which the Navy seized a year earlier after many protests.
It is no surprise that one of the most influential women in Puerto Rico’s history was born in this spirited town. Felisa Rincón de Gautier, affectionately known as “Doña Fela,” actively fought to give women the right to vote, for which years later she was elected mayor of San Juan. The year was 1946, and Doña Fela became the first woman elected mayor to a capital city anywhere in the Americas. As one of the early leaders of the island’s Popular Democratic Party, she was part of a push for renovating key public services such as health and education. Her knack for innovation and fighting spirit now serve as inspiration to ceibeños.
Now Ceiba is trying to seize on the unique opportunity to reinvent itself, but many proposals are being discussed and plans have yet to solidify. Meanwhile, locals await the redevelopment of 8,600 acres of land and the revitalization of their economy, whether it be through a major airport, a port for cruise ships, or some combination of commercial and tourist facilities. The future of Ceiba remains wide open, with the clear possibility of becoming a major hub for the Caribbean.