SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – An Occupation and student strike at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras is [being] violently suppressed, but not before the administration canceled the rest of the semester and closed it “indefinitely”. This Chronicle of Higher Education story reports the closure is due to 19 injured security guards in clashes with striking students and faculty as they occupied space throughout the day. More information about these clashes can be found here (Spanish), including stories about barricades, humans chains, terrified administrators and politicians, and students being pepper sprayed and beaten up. Here are some english language updates from their Solidarity page about the situation of the past two days:
The PR Police elite forces are gathering near the University. It looks like the state wants to crash the strike with its violence, with no intention of any negotiation. That’s how the UPR administration is trying to defend its anti-universitary policies. Shame on them!!!!
The police and private rent-a-cops are already congregating around the university grounds. It is now 2:00 AM local PR time.
Event page was set up for the strike action today.
The students at the UPR Humacao campus have joined in and declared a 48-hour strike alongside the original stoppage at UPR Rio Piedras.
The UPR President has publicly stated that they cannot negotiate with the students because we have nothing to negotiate. He states that there is no atmosphere for dialogue from the students, even though we have called him directly to meet.
–> The UPR President has echoed this stance; there is an attempt to divide the student movement.
The chief of the police (superintendent José Figueroa Sancha) has said that the students at the UPR are a bunch of troublemakers and that they will do their part if called upon by the UPR administration. The state university has a non-confrontation policy which prohibits the state police from entering university grounds after various violent confrontations from the 1940s-1980s.
Preparations continue as the UPR Río Piedras prepares for 48 hours of work/study stoppage that will begin on wednesday morning and the possibility of an indefinite strike that could begin on friday.
Our Student Negotiating Committee went to meet, as planned, the President of the UPR today. They were, however, greeted by no one and left again since there was none to meet with. (April 20th)
It seems that as a gesture of “good will” that the administration of the UPR went ahead and painted over the work done by the students at the occupation. At the same time, opposite groups of students against the 48-hour strike, and any resistance in general have sprung up around Facebook. It seems that we’re facing a multi-front assault.
One of the workers union (the HEEND) of the UPR and the Association of University Professors of Puerto Rico (APPU) have expressed their public solidarity with the students as they prepare for a work/study stoppage on wednesday, April 21, 2010. Family and friends of the students organize as well to attend the strike in solidarity
apr.21.2010 – (pacific time)
~3:45pm: “The police is already hurting students with pepper-spray. The shock troops have already started their offensive… The students are defending themselves with everything.”
~6:45pm: “The situation has calmed down. Regular police are still around, but the SWAT were pulled back. It was at the brink. The strike continues.”
videos from April 21st.