PUERTO RICO – 8 of the 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico are now on strike. While the university administration has won the favor of the courts, the Federation of Teachers have joined the strike line. The excuses that administration have used to call in a heavy police presence before have yet to materialize including claims of assaulting campus security guards.
Below is a letter published by some UPR students at the Rio Piedras campus where the strike began, translated by UC Rebel Radio.
Open Letter to the Country of Puerto Rico
April 21, 2010
Today we write this letter because, when you open your eyes, you will see us in mid-strike. Upon waking, you would have surely heard from the Governor, Luis Fortuño, from Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha, and from many other officials calls us “rebels” who “don’t want to study” — in order to censor our voices. We ask you to listen to us since we want to speak to you honestly.
Don’t let yourself be misled, don’t think that we do not want to study. Of course we want to, but we also want you, Puerto Rico, to be able to study. For our right to education and for yours, it is that we take part in this strike.
The government pretends to use this confrontation as a smoke screen to divert attention from our rightful demands and proposals. Because we want to study we are indignant when we witness cuts attempting against: regular and summer academic curricula, exemptions, tuition costs, and fundamental services that serve the functionality of the university. The UPR’s administration, controlled by the Board of Syndicates, pretends to disrupt the education of thousands of students that are preparing themselves to professionally serve you. A public university’s function is to democratize education, to insure that the majority of citizens could educate themselves appropriately in order to, as professionals, better serve society. Even though we have concrete proposals in order to meet the deficit and have tried to constantly negotiate, the UPR’s administration has shut its doors to dialog in many occasions.
The University is the reflection of the reality which our Country faces. We denounce the deterioration of your way of life and of our way of study as a product of bad administration, over-spending, and corruption.
As you may see, we strike because, above all, we want to study and to put to practice our knowledge. We strike, even though some of us may graduate soon, because there is a multitude of students that aspire to obtain the best education that its country can offer. That education becomes endangered when the UPR’s administration and the government, in favor of private interests, reduce the educational environment to a mere transaction between seller and client.
We strike because we want our children and grandchildren to have a superior public education, like we have had thanks to you.
The students of the University of Puerto Rico
“El conocimiento es el arma más poderosa del ser humano y de un pueblo, por esto hay que defenderlo.”