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2010 University of Puerto Rico Strike
The UPR Strike of 2010 (or Huelga del 2010 de la Universidad de Puerto Rico began on April 21, 2010 as a 48-hour strike at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. In a General Student Assembly, celebrated on April 13, 2010, students approved a motion to create a Negotiating Committee which was to talk and negotiate with the university administration several neuralgic issues: Student Waivers or exemptions (affected by the Board of Trustees "98 Certification"), recommendations to solve the budget deficit problems, guarantees of stopping tuition hikes, and guarantees that campuses will not be privatised. Another motion was approved, calling for a 48-hour strike to pressure the administration to talk and negotiate in those 48 hours. If there wasn't any progress during those 48 hours, an indefinite strike would begin at the end of the aforementioned period. After the failure in negotiations, the indefinite strike began on April 23, 2010. It has grown in size and support, other campuses joining the Strike. Campuses slowly joined the Strike, until on 4 May 2010, every single campus went on strike supporting UPR Río Piedras. The University of Bern has started a 48 hour strike supporting UPR students. UNAM students have released communiques in favor of the student strike.
- 1 Background
- 2 April 13 General Assembly
- 3 48-Hour Strike
- 4 Indefinite Strike begins
- 5 The strike in the Media
- 6 The Strike goes to Court
- 7 National Assembly
- 8 References
BackgroundFile:Cea2.jpgStudent Assembly at UPRM
The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is the state university system of Puerto Rico. The system consists of 11 campuses and has approximately 64,511 students and 5,300 faculty members. UPR has the largest and most diverse academic offerings in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean with 472 academic programs and 32 doctoral programs.
The UPR has held an important position in Puerto Rican history as a place where social struggles in Puerto Rican society explode and manifest themselves. UPR operational costs are provided by the government by a fixed formula of 9.6%.
Fortuño's Government Policies
In a televised speech on March 3, 2009, 60 days after having been sworn in, Governor Fortuño announced his Fiscal and Economic Recovery Plan which included reducing the government's annual expenditures by more than $2 billion at the start of the next fiscal year in July 2009. Media speculation estimated that a reduction of such magnitude would require permanently laying off over 30,000 government workers. On May 1, 2009, a mass of workers marched through the streets of San Juan in response to the governor's plan, protesting the government's apparent preparation for impending layoffs.
Since September 2009, Governor Fortuño's personal security detail has been tightened since an incident at a press conference where a protester threw an egg at him.
On October 15, 2009, thousands of Puerto Rican workers and supporters gathered Thursday for a general strike over government budget cuts that have led to the elimination of nearly 17,000 jobs. Puerto Rico's unemployment rate exceeds 15 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Fortuño administration expects the layoffs to propel that rate to 17.1 percent.
Following the implementation Law Number 7, declaring a Fiscal Emergency, government revenues going to the General Fund have diminished and have been destined to other areas of the Budget. Ev en though the 9.6% formula that feeds the university hasn't been actively and directly changed, it has been changed indirectly by the effects of this law. The surcharge of property taxes, half of the revenues of the IVU tax sent to the Compelling Interest Fund Corporation (COFINA in Spanish) and the stabilization fund are excluded from the computation of the formula now.
Effects on 2010-2011 fiscal year
The government's expenditure budget for this year exceeded 9 billion dollars. Therefore, the University should have been assigned approximately $864 million and not $733 million Governor Fortuño stated in his Budget Message. By dividing the $730 million the governor said from the budget of expenditure, it is to be noted that the new University formula is close to 8.1%. It should be also noted that the Budget Message included a comment on the strike and the classification of education as a privilege. You can link to the videos of that too.
On September 25, 2009, the government announced it would fire around 18,000 government workers form various agencies. The magnitude of the effects these layoffs would have prompted a General Student Assembly, celebrated on September 28, 2009. This assembly created action committees for every college (Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Education, and the School of Law). It also decreed several days of strikes, and joined the National Strike celebrated on 15 October 2009.
These action committees, validated by the Student Assemblies in September 2009 and again in April 2010, have played a key role in the 2010 UPR-RP strike.
April 13 General Assembly
The General Student Council of the Rio Piedras campus held a General Assembly of Students that took place on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 in the UPRRP Theatre and Amphitheatre # 1 at the School of Education.
Not all students who wanted to participate could enter the main theater because the maximum occupancy is 1674 people, according to the certification of the Puerto Rico Fire Department, although the theater has held Student Assemblies attended by more that 3,000 students in the past. Once the main theater was filled to capacity, the students were directed to the Amphitheatre # 1 in the Faculty of Education. Despite serving as the overflow, there were still students assembled outside Education Theatre #1 who were organized and included in the final vote tabulation. As hours passed, students got angrier and inpatient unfortunately leading to the destruction of several original parts of the theatre that to some are irreplaceable. (All proposals calling for secret vote in such instances have been rejected by the General Student Council and other student's organizations, such as the Federación de Universitarios Pro Independencia and the Unión de Juventudes Socialistas. These proposals have been made since at least the 1981-82 student strike. Their main arguments are that 1)in an university environment all decisions should be debated and explained in a thought-out manner and all points of view should be expressed in an organized way; and 2)the administration does not care about the student's opinion on matters other than whether the students go on strike or not.)
By a large majority of the vote, the students decided to call a 48-hour strike on April 21 and April 22, 2010.
Before the Strike began, the Negotiating Committee students tried to meet with President José Ramón de la Torre and chancellor Ana R. Guadalupe on Monday, trying to avoid going on the strike, only to be rejected. The Negotiating Committee tried to meet with several administration leaders, only to be also rejected.
The strike began on Wednesday 21 April, around 3 AM, when students began to organise inside the campus. Between 4 and 6 AM students secured several gates, and in the following hours, they took control of all gates, except the University Security Offices gate. A meeting was called at 2 PM between the Negotiating Committee and the Chancellor, but called off after rumours of SWAT police scheduled to go in on campus at the same time spread.
Interim Chancellor Guadalupe ordered an indefinite close down of the campus around 9:35 AM, and denounced that 17 university guards were harmed in the takeover. Press members questioned the numbers, stating that they had been at the premises and had seen none of what she claimed. The guards could not identify their attackers, who wore hoods covering their faces; hooded participants in the strike would become a constant element of the strike, and continue even later (though not officially approving the actions of the hooded participants, the Student Council opposed a bill in the Puerto Rican Legislature increasing fines and punishments for persons who committed crimes or misdemeanors while wearing hoods).
Around 1 PM an injunction case was submitted to San Juan Superior Court against the General Council President, calling him to open the gates of the campus.
The Administration refused to meet up with the students in those 48-hours, forcing the students to activate the second part of their vote: an Indefinite Strike to begin on 23 April.
Indefinite Strike begins
¡Que vivan l@s estudiantes! Concert
A large group of (mostly Puerto Rican) artists decided to celebrate an all-day long concert on April 28 in order to demonstrate their open support for the students on strike. Some of the artists present were: Mima, Gamaliel Pagan, Antonio Caban Vale (El Topo), Tito Auger, Adean Caban, Los Rayos Gamma, Haciendo Punto en Otro Son, Mikie Rivera, Andy Montañez, Danny Rivera, Intifada, Viento De Agua, Rebeldia, Fernando Ferrer, Ali Tapia and Radio Pirata among others. Rene Perez of the duo Calle 13 expressed his support and presented a video of artists who were supporting the students. Some of the artists in the video were: Ricky Martin, Ruben Blades, Juanes, Bebe and Alejandro Sanz among others.
The first concert, celebrated at the Río Piedras campus, spawned other "Que vivan" Concerts at various other campuses, including Mayagüez, Cayey, Humacao and Bayamon.
Professors and Workers join
After a faculty meeting, professors from the Mayaguez Campus opted to cease to trust their interim chancellor, Jorge Rivera Santos, on May 4 thanks to his unwillingness to negotiate with students and professors alike. On April 27, professors from the Cayey campus went on a 72-hour strike in support of the students. On that same day the students of the Cayey campus also approved a 72-hour strike. On May 3, in a Joint General Assembly with professors, workers and students of the Cayey campus, they all agreed on making the strike an indefinite one until the university administration negotiates. On April 29, the Río Piedras campus chapter of the Asociación Puertorriqueña de Profesores Universitarios staged a one-day walk-out in support of the students, and has called to its members to respect the picket line. The Hermandad (HEEND) union representing non-teaching employees, and the Syndicate representing university maintenance workers, also issued calls to their members to respect the picket lines. All three organizations have mobilized at the pickets as observers and supporters to prevent state-sanctioned violent repression. On Friday May 21, for the first time in history, the Faculty of all 11 campuses met in a General Assembly held at the Cayey Municipal Arena. There were about 1,100 faculty members present. During that assembly, the professors voted to support the student strike. They also voted to ask for the resignation of the President of the UPR and of the President of the Board of Trustees. They expressed their rejection to the presence of the riot police around the different campuses.
The students of the University of Bern held a 48 hour strike supporting UPR students. UNAM students have released communiques in favor of the student strike. Also students from Dominican Republic published a letter on May 5, 2010, in favor of UPR students and their strike. Around 230 University of Barcelona students have signed a paper in favor of the strike too. The Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo's School of Social Work Professors Association has expressed support in the struggle against "the destruction of education at University of Puerto Rico", as have several student organizations from the Dominican Republic, and the Internationalist Clubs at CUNY.
Río Piedras Students General Assembly 13 May
On May 13, 2010, an Extraordinary Students General Assembly of Río Piedras Campus was celebrated in the Puerto Rico Convention Center. In an Assembly attended by more than 2,800 students, it was determined that the understandings were not enough. Because of this, was approved by clear majority to ratify the agreed strike vote in the assembly of the past 13 April. The students of Río Piedras gave a vote of trust to the National Negotiation Committee, composed by a representative of each of the eleven campuses of the University of Puerto Rico.
The Student Negotiating Committee immediately called the UPR administration to resume dialogue. Ana R. Guadalupe, Río Piedras Deputy Chancellor, threatens with an announcement of a UPR System Closure. Moreover was approved a motion to request the resignation of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Ygri Rivera, the President of the UPR; Jose Ramon de la Torre, and the interim chancellor of UPRRP; Ana R. Guadalupe.
Work was completed with a vote to go on a mass march to the Capitol, and there proclaim the outcome of the General Assembly to the legislature and government of Puerto Rico.
The Tactical Operation Unit of the Police of Puerto Rico settled more than 3.000 Template:Citation needed anti-riot units around the Río Piedras Campus on May 14. Water and Food resources to Campus were blocked by the police and parents who were trying to bring food to their sons/daughters who are on strike were arrested or threatened with arrest because they were illegally taking over the campus. Students living in the In-Campus Residences were ordered to leave and return their keys while the dorms were to be closed for their safety. A few days later, police officials once again allowed the passage of food and water to the students.
The police were removed at 3pm on May 19, and only a skeleton group remains.
After negotiations were coming close to end the strike, it was discovered that there was going to be a 100% estimated tuition hike. The hike, unveiled by the President of the Board of Trustees, Ygrí Rivera, made the previously negotiated achievements on the waivers or exemptions almost inconsequential. The administration "flexibilised" the hike, trying to make students agree with either a 100% tuition hike or a $1,300 Special Fee. The fee would be paid twice or thrice a year, for a three year period, and would be tied to a tuition hike after the 3-year period, despite the fact that tuition increases are already in place until the 2015-16 academic year according to Certification 60.
In order to have the special fee approved, in July 2010 the government modified the Board of Trustees to increase their members from 13 to 17. Then, they imposed a special fee of $800.00 per year indefinitely.
The strike in the Media
Rojogallito.com - Prensa Desde Adentro (From the Inside Press)
During the first days of the 48-hour strike, UPR Rector, Ana Guadalupe, improperly declared an administrative closure that included the UPR press department. Because there was no media coming "from the inside", student activist Aura Colon, along with several other law school students and some students from other departments, used her experience in the press to establish a blog that would serve as the voice of the student movement publishing objective reports on the activities related to the strike.
The domain (www.rojogallito.com) was donated by an alumnus who supported the movement. The Desde Adentro press corp has since collaborated with leading Puerto Rican news outlets to deliver news through various formats including written and video news coverage (Concert at the end of the 24 hours strike 5/19/2010).
In the need of a fast, reliable medium to communicate with a widely spread audience, a group of students from Rio Piedras Campus started official transmissions of their own radio station, aptly named Radio Huelga, at 4:00PM on May 2. With a wide variety of shows (even its own soap opera) and many young, enthusiastic DJs, it has been sharing relevant information about the latest news going on at different campuses all over Puerto Rico.
They also transmit through an AM station (1650AM), with a coverage of 1 square mile. Since they have such a small range of radio coverage, the station is not regulated by the FCC. Therefore, they are able to express themselves as freely as they wish.
UPR administration launched a serie of advertisements on national newspapers, radio stations, and eventually, TV stations. The ads varied each day, calling on the students to stop the strike, warning that a semester cancellation was due. They also asked the people of Puerto Rico to "not let foreign/strange elements" to set the agenda of the UPR. Calling the student leaders liars and people without honour, the ads then became more intense, using around 8 students claiming that without the strike ending, they won't be able to graduate, continue studies, get jobs, etc.
6 economists estimate that the university’s budget on advertising is around $5,200, however the administration has now spent close to a million dollars on advertising against the student strike.
The National Negotiating Committee also spent time doing their own advertisement. Just before the administration's advertisements came out, the NNC shot a commercial intended to encourage students (and now all of Puerto Rico since the strike turned into a island-wide issue) to keep supporting them. Also it was suggested by the government's ruling party and their supporters that the students had economic support from political agendas, almost certainly the PPD ("Partido Popular Democratico").
The Strike goes to Court
On 21 April the UPR Administration submitted an injunction against General Council President Gabriel Laborde, calling on him to open the gates of the UPR Río Piedras Campus. Afterwards, the administration tried to get Laborde in jail for contempt of court, saying he was not doing enough in his power to open the University.
After the 13 May General Río Piedras Assembly ratified the strike to continue by a 90% of the students there present, the Administration proceeded to include in the injunction the entire Río Piedras Negotiating Committee, as well as the entire Direction of the General Council: Gabriel Laborde, President; Santiago Velázquez, Vice-President; Verónica Guzmán, Executive Secretary; María Carruthers, Secretary; Arturo Ríos, University Board alternate; Rashid Marcano, Administrative Board alternate; Giovanni Roberto, Negotiating Committee; Waldemiro Vélez, Negotiating Committee, René Vargas, University Board representative; Adriana Mulero, Negotiating Committee; Jean Carlo Bonilla, Negotiating Committee, David Carrasquillo, Negotiating Committee; Aníbal Núñez, Negotiating Committee; José García, Negotiating Committee; Míriam Ruiz, Negotiating Committee; Rosaly Motta, representative of Humanities; Aníbal González, Press Secretary; Adriana Berríos, Public Relations. The Administration included other three students as strike leaders in the demand, and demanded a ceasing of the conduct, as well as monetary reparations of the losses of the administration (calculated by them to rise over $150 million).
After weeks, the judge decided to order both sides into mandated mediation with retired judge Pedro López Oliver. The Students were represented by the National Negotiating Committee. From the Administration side, the entire Board of Trustees was ordered to appear. On the night of June 16, 2010, after 5 days of court-mandated mediation, the Board of Trustees voted 9 to 4 in favor of entering an agreement with the students, attending their claims against the tuition hike/special fee, summary suspensions and/or expulsions, as well as the aforementioned issues about financial aid, etc. Among those four members of the Board who voted against the agreement (and declined to even sign the document) was Board President, Ygrí Rivera.
A National Student Assembly was called by the National Negotiating Committee to happen on Monday, 21 June 2010. The National Assembly, the first of its kind in the history of Puerto Rico, was to decide whether to ratify or reject the agreements negotiated by the National Negotiating Committee and the UPR Administration on late 16 June 2010. The UPR Río Piedras General Council voted that same day to support the National Assembly. 8 of the 11 campuses ratified the agreements in their own Student Assemblies held between June 17 and June 20. The National Student Assembly took place in the Juan Pachín Vicens Coliseum in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Only 2,900 students attended the assembly out of the 60,000 plus students of the University of Puerto Rico system. Without any votes against, the students ratified the terms of the negotiation by the NNC (National Negotiating Committee or CNN - in Spanish - for Comité Negociador Nacional) and the University Administration.
- ↑ La Nación.pr. "Exigencias estudiantiles en la Huelga de 2010 (Preliminar) « Periódico Digital Puertorriqueño La Nación". Lanacionpr.wordpress.com. http://lanacionpr.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/exigencias-estudiantado/. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ "La Universidad Hoy". Hoy.upr.edu. http://hoy.upr.edu/. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ http://acweb.upr.edu/vpit/about_folder/biomedical.pdf
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Template:Cite news
- ↑ "RenÃ© PÃ©rez en la huelga de la UPR - El Nuevo Día". Elnuevodia.com. http://www.elnuevodia.com/videos-reneperezenlahuelgadelaupr-155350.html. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ http://www.elnuevodia.com/videos-conciertoÂ¡quevivanlosestudiantes!-155283.html
- ↑ "ContinÃºan las negociaciones para dar fin a la huelga de la UPR - El Nuevo Día". Elnuevodia.com. http://www.elnuevodia.com/suspendeninvestigacionesenrecintoderiopiedras-698530.html. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ "Desde Adentro: Apoyo internacional a la Huelga en la UPR". Rojogallito.blogspot.com. 2006-07-11. http://rojogallito.blogspot.com/2010/05/apoyo-internacional-la-huelga-en-la-upr.html. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ "Apoyo a la huelga desde Brasil... : CMI-PR". Pr.indymedia.org. 2010-05-09. http://pr.indymedia.org/news/2010/05/42914.php. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ "Carta a estudiantes de la UPR desde República Dominicana : CMI-PR". Pr.indymedia.org. 2010-05-04. http://pr.indymedia.org/news/2010/05/42815.php. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ "Declaración en solidaridad con la huelga estudiantil : CMI-PR". Pr.indymedia.org. http://pr.indymedia.org/news/2010/04/42678.php. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- ↑ http://www.prdailysun.com/?page=news.article&id=1277358194
- ↑ http://occupyca.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/upr-strike-deadline-today/