Puerto Rico: Tense Prelude to the Student Strike


A 48-hour blockade organized by students from the state-run University of Puerto Rico in protest against a proposed $800 annual fee got off to a tense and violent start early Tuesday morning, as students raising barricades around the Río Piedras campus clashed with private security guards hired by the administration.

The day began as students, many of them masked in order to protect their identities, were photographed by the local press [es] as they built and patrolled their barricades in defiance of the administration’s efforts to undermine the protests. Such administrative measures included taking down several University gates [es] around the main campus in Río Piedras early Monday morning, allegedly as a way of guaranteeing entrance to those students, teachers, and employees who showed up for classes and work; and hiring the private security firm Capitol Security, whose guards have proven to be inexperienced and volatile [es] during the first 24 hour cycle of events.

Violent acts were reported and decried by both students and Capitol Security, with one university student allegedly having been beaten by a team of twelve security guards, and several guards allegedly suffering injuries in skirmishes with students. Students and security guards have since declared a truce, according to news reports [es]. Vandalism to school property has also been reported.  Radio Huelga, a ‘pirate’ radio station and website set up by university students during the two-month long strike last semester was able to capture video of the student beating as it took place.