La Huelga, The Strike: Month-long Struggle in Puerto Rica
Eleven out of eleven campuses of University of Puerto Rico (UPR) are closed. The strike began on UPR’s Rio Piedras campus and has now spread to all the others. Students are in the fifth week of their strike in resistance of the budget cuts and reduction and elimination of financial aid in the UPR system. Students will not accept cut backs in tuition waivers as the only way to account for the $100 million dollar budget gap. They have pointed out tens of millions of dollars set aside for non-academic dinner parties, galas and other events that are very foreign to the working class majority that currently benefit from varying types and levels of financial aid. Administrators are certainly wrong to take from scholarship money. This should be the last place to cut back from.
UPR students are demanding that the University keep all financial decision known to students. They want all account books to be open for them to see to eliminate any actions taken by the administration under their radar. Hopefullly, the students will succeed in negotiating a more reasonable plan to hold the system of institutions through the economic crisis.
A radio station Radio Huelga (which translates as Strike Radio) has been formed since the resistance as an additional tool by which to resist, with the slogan “tune in to resistance.” Families, teachers and unions have supported protesters especially by bringing food over the campus gates.
Police attacks against the non-violent strikers has gotten increasingly worse. Several students were beaten and arrested in the Sheraton hotel while protesting in the lobby, one father of a striker attempting giving food to students through the University fence was badly beaten by police and José Perez highly respected and disabled graduate student organizer was beaten very severely. The police are blockading the strikers on campus and denying them access to food or water, but the strike still has an indefinite end, leaders say they will not stop until their requests are satisfied and the struggle continues.