SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Chancellor of the Río Piedras campus, part of the 11 campus University of Puerto Rico system, announced a moratorium on mass gatherings at Río Piedras on February 24th, due to what she believed was an illegal 24-hr strike held on the previous day. Chancellor Ana Guadalupe, in a letter to the students, announced that under her authority, under Article 2.19, a 30 day ban on mass gatherings and demonstrations would begin. This forced moratorium on protests comes in light of a series of acts of police brutality on protesters¹, a physical confrontation between an English professor and students, and student uprisings over the past few months against the $800 tuition increase.
On Monday, March 7th, students defied these orders and held a protest. Upon hearing that the Chancellor was holding a meeting with the department of Architecture, the demonstrators moved outside of it. Once there, students chanted at the Chancellor but were stopped from entering the meeting due to campus security. Guadalupe refused to acknowledge the students outside, so the demonstrators went around the building and held up signs through the window. Discovering the window unlocked, a few students climbed into the room and disrupted the meeting.
As Guadalupe left the meeting, students attempted to confront her, but were pushed back by police and campus security. Frustrated and provoked, demonstrators continued to confront the Chancellor, leading to a back and forth struggle with the campus security. Demonstrators tried to grab the Chancellor, tugged at her hair and sprayed water at her while she was surrounded by guards. Once she reached a campus security car, demonstrators stood in front and blocked her way. She continued to refuse speaking with protesters. The car’s windows were smashed before the Chancellor could leave the scene.
¹ Over the past few months peaceful student protests and civil disobedience actions have been repeatedly and brutally attacked by police, “the shock force”. See: the January 27th protest at the capitol [see photos: 1, 2]; the February 9th protest against the fee increase and police [see photos: 1, 2]; and the numerous acts of police brutality and repression during the student strike in December 2010 [see photos: 1].