Tag Archives: University of Puerto Rico strike

Student Power: Puerto Rico and Zagreb

June 8. Students at the University of Zagreb crash a session of the university senate, whose members were going to vote on fee increases. As you can see in the video above, the senators were forced to leave the room.

June 1. Members of the student negotiating committee at the University of Puerto Rico, where students at all 11 campuses have been on strike since late April, report on the progress of the negotiations and explain their demands. Unfortunately, talks have now apparently broken down and the university administration has resorted to threats of legal action and the use of repressive police actions. Details here and here.

As always, our thanks to the comrades at Occupy California for keeping us informed.

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La Huelga de la UPR (Videos)

Here are some lovely videos from the ongoing strike at the University of Puerto Rico, courtesy of the comrades at MRZine and Occupy California.

Alberto Bartolomei, 2 horas en la Huelga de la UPR

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Raymond O’Brien1 Universidad : 1 Pueblo

Vodpod videos no longer available.

For more details on the reasons behind the strike, see this recent interview on Democracy Now! with striking UPR student Giovanni Roberto and UPR professor Christopher Powers, and this article by Yarimar Bonilla.

You should also check out these three recent articles by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle in MRZine.

You can support the strikers by sending messages to the following addresses (these include UPR administration officials as well as advocacy organizations that are collecting copies of support and solidarity messages):


You can use the following sample letter, addressed to the president of UPR’s Board of Regents (thanks to a comrade at the Edu-Factory mailing list for all this information):

Lcda. Ygri Rivera
President, Board of Regents
Universidad de Puerto Rico

I wish to express my deep concern over the means by which the administration of the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) is handling the current student strike.

I believe that the students are making fair demands through democratic steps, practicing their free speech rights, and using channels that they have collectively vetted, and which in the past have been deemed acceptable by the institution itself.

I demand that the UPR guarantee the rights of students who are negotiating fairly, transparently, and openly without violence or intimidation. These three areas must be respected: security for the students, equal participation of all interested parties, and procedural transparency. Any alternative outside such parameters would be deemed unacceptable.

Thus, I add my voice to the chorus that demands the following:
1. Remove riot police from the immediate surroundings of university campuses.
2. Allow the provision of food and water for students inside university grounds.
3. Restart negotiations immediately.

An institution of higher learning must inherently be committed to social justice and shall not facilitate human rights violations, such as the blockade of food and water, nor the current excessive display of force on its grounds and their vicinity.

I hope that the UPR can uphold its primary education mission to its students—the hope in and for the future—rather than fall prey to any lopsided interests of faculty, administration, regents, or elected officials. I urge the administration to reconsider its position and resist the temptation to impose its will through violent force. Instead, I urge the administration to facilitate an open dialog to decide the future of the university of the people of Puerto Rico.

[Spanish version of letter]

Lcda. Ygri Rivera
Presidenta Junta de Síndicos
Universidad de Puerto Rico

Quiero dejar constancia de mi preocupación sobre la forma en que la Administración de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) está lidiando con la huelga de los estudiantes.

Entendiendo que los estudiantes están realizando un reclamo justo y mediante un mecanismo democráticamente avalado y aceptado tantos por el cuerpo estudiantil como por la propia institución educativa.

Exigimos se garantice la seguridad de nuestros estudiantes y que la administración de la Universidad de Puerto Ricobase su estrategia de negociación en la transparencia y la apertura al diálogo y no en la fuerza y la intimidación. Estas soluciones deben estar contempladas en tres aspectos; seguridad de los estudiantes, transparencia de los procesos y participación en integral de las partes interesadas.

Cualquier alternativa ajena a esto debe considerarse inaceptable.

Es por esto que hago los siguientes reclamos:

1. Retirar la fuerza de choque de las inmediaciones de la Universidad
2. Permitir el acceso de agua y alimento a los manifestantes dentro de las facilidades universitarias.
3. Restaurar el servicio de agua en las facilidades.
4. Reanudar los procesos de negociación de forma abierta y transparente.

La Universidad tiene un compromiso de responsabilidad social y no debe avalar una violación crasa de Derechos Humanos como el negar el acceso de agua y alimentos a las y los estudiantes; así como, la exhortación y despliegue de fuerzas policiacas excesivas en sus alrededores.

La universidad no existe para sí misma, ni para sus profesores, ni para sus empleados administrativos, ni para su junta de síndicos ni para el gobernador, sino para educar a la nueva cepa de estudiantes, que es la base de nuestro futuro. Exhorto a la administración de la Universidad de Puerto Rico que reconsidere su posición y resista a la tentación de imponer su criterio a través de la fuerza de una macana, y permitan que sea la fuerza del diálogo y la transparencia la que decida el futuro de la Universidad del pueblo de Puerto Rico.

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University of Puerto Rico under Siege

From Occupy California:

14 MAY 2010



Just yesterday, May 13th, the students of Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico ratified the 22 day strike with an evident majority of votes in favor at a General Assembly that was proposed and organized by the institution’s own administration. Today, that same administration backed with full government support have intensified and reinforced their repressive schemes against the student movement stepping over our constitutional right to protest. We condemn rector Ana Guadalupe’s decision to activate the police forces against us and we reiterate yesterday’s vote demanding her resignation as well as president Jose Ramón de la Torre’s. Since 4am there has been heavy police presence around the campus; different police units have been brought to guard all possible entrances and to restrict access of students and those in solidarity. We wish to publicly alert the national and international media that up until now they have prohibited not only the entrance of civilians, but also, and more alarming, the entry of food donations and supplies needed by the hundreds of students that are currently occupying the campus. The students that reside on campus are being forced to move out and are being threatened with the non-renewal of housing contracts. We also expect water and electricity on campus to be cut off by 1:00pm.

We exhort all students, professors, workers and civilians; every member of every community, to surround the university gates as they have done themselves. We exhort everybody’s presence here today; we need everyone’s solidarity and support if we are to endure this struggle. We want to let the administration know that their attempts to intimidate have been not only repressive but exaggerated and unnecessary. We will not allow that the democracy of the university’s administration proclaims to practice be arbitrary and partial. Those who participated in the Students’ General Assembly yesterday, experienced a real democratic process in action. The assembly is sovereign and in assembly we voted to continue the strike. We are here to defend the right of all Puerto Rican students to a public education and here we will remain until the administration decides to cooperate and negotiate.

We need everyone’s solidarity and support. Ten out of eleven campuses that make up the UPR system have declared themselves on strike. All are participating in the same struggle. The same struggle being fought all over the World.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Humanities Action Committee
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus


  • A National Strike has been called for Tuesday, May 18th!
  • photos:

  • Video of the aftermath of a student being beat after trying to get onto campus:


From the Facebook page for the May 18 solidarity protest in NYC:

On the 22st day (May 14th) of the University of Puerto Rico student strike: The situation in Puerto Rico has intensified. Over the last few days the university students have demonstrated heroic & militant resistance. Yesterday, at a huge assembly of students at the PR Convention Center, students overwhelmingly decided to to step up the 22-day takeover/strike at the University of PR despite intimidation & harassment attempts by the university administration.

The colonial government has responded with intolerance and repressive police tactics. On this day the riot police squad was mobilized against the students! Water has been cut off to the Rio Piedras campus, the campus dorms have been evacuated, and folks have been arrested for simply trying to pass water & food through the fences to the striking students. The father of a striking student who was bringing food and water was beaten and then arrested.

Fortunately, the blockade was broken when hundreds of professors, parents, and supporters began to arrive with water and bags of food, which they successfully tossed over the fence and over the heads of the cops, unable to stop them in front of the TV cameras. In the face of this repression, hundreds of parents, workers, community leaders and concerned have joined the picket lines (at all the island campuses) to protect the striking students.

Later in the day, José Pérez, a disabled graduate student who has won the love and respect of the entire striking community for his militancy and dedication, was badly beaten, dragged on the floor, and arrested for “aggression” when he attempted to re-enter the campus, after leaving momentarily to take care of personal affairs. Professors and fellow students who tried to come to his aid were doused in pepper spray. Two more students have been also been arrested for unknown reasons.

This afternoon, the workers unions of Puerto Rico have announced a general strike (work stoppage) for Tuesday May 18th in unity with the student movement and to denounce the confrontational politics of the colonial government of PR.

A call has been made to all people & workers to mobilize in unity with the students at all the various UPR campuses on the island.


Join the NYC Protest!
Tuesday, May 18, 5:30PM
at the Offices of the PR colonial Government (PRFAA)
135 West 50th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave)

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Their Clutter, Our Future (Occupy California)

The Occupy California blog is where it’s all happening these days. Let’s start with this:

Call for Statewide Days of Action Around UC Regents’ Meeting, May 18-20

In Chile and Puerto Rico, in Austria, Greece, Italy, and Croatia, and in 33 states in the US—all over the world we are experiencing the systematic dismantling of education systems that supposedly serve the public. Students all over the world have begun to respond, through occupations, strikes, shutdowns, blockades, and other forms of direct action. We are starting to take back what is ours.

The UC Regents have formed the UC Commission on the Future: a body that will be meeting May 18-20 at UC San Francisco and again this summer to solidify the current cuts. This means more fee increases, larger class sizes, and the introduction of 3-year degrees and online courses. Despite widespread opposition, the regents are making their decisions behind closed doors during the summer months, when school is out of session. If we do nothing, a UC undergraduate entering school five years from now could be paying $22,700 per year for overcrowded classes. We cannot stand by and watch as our public education system is being destroyed due not to a budget crisis but to a state that stakes education as the lowest priority.

The privatization of our universities is a piece of a larger statewide attack on education and other public services. Across California and especially in urban areas public K-12 schools are facing debilitating cuts: teachers are being laid-off and having their salaries reduced while students are getting less attention and lower quality education. UC workers are having their hours cut and are therefore being forced to do more work in less time. Campus resource centers that were intended to address the needs of under-represented communities have been the first on the chopping block. Under the guise of an economic crisis, the state is allocating resources in a way that further privileges the upper class and further disenfranchises those who are already marginalized. This is apparent in Schwarzenegger’s decision to find funding for education by privatizing the prison system; the future of public education should not be contingent on heightened incarceration. We can win this only by rejecting this logic of competition for resources and by refusing to be complicit in a racist, classist, and discriminatory state agenda.

We began this on March 4. In Santa Cruz we successfully shut down campus, which proved that when we organize autonomously we can fight back against this repressive institution that denies us power. We can continue by targeting the university administration and by making it absolutely clear that these backroom deals will not stand. We are calling for students, workers, and all allies to mobilize around the Regents’ meeting in San Francisco on May 18-20 and shut it down. We specifically urge Bay Area campuses to focus their energies on this. We are calling for direct actions at schools and universities that shut down business as usual. We also welcome everyone to join us in Santa Cruz for a full campus shutdown. These actions are a warning that if the administration approves the Commission on the Future’s recommendations, there will be escalated actions and the possibility of a longer-term strike in the fall. Nothing will be won unless we take it for ourselves.

Join your friends and allies to reclaim what is yours.

-UC Santa Cruz Strike Committee

If that isn’t enough to inspire you, then read their posts about the UCSC Strike Committee’s demands,  the May Day party in Santa Cruz, the ongoing occupation at Middlesex University, and the ongoing strike at the University of Puerto Rico.

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