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University of Puerto Rico student strike in week five

By Merelyn Concepción Rios

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The University of Puerto Rico administration continues to refuse to negotiate with the students here, as the 24-hour strike started April 21 has extended into its dramatic fifth week.

One of the demands the strike is fighting for is continuing financial assistance for athletes, art students and sons and daughters of the university employees. The university administration and the government do not see eye to eye with the students and what has been offered so far many students see as only scraps.

The most important points in the negotiations have not been met – like the financial extensions or the demand to protect the strike against repression. Another important demand is that the university opens its financial books to the public. This is where the administration doesn’t want to go and what keeps the movement on its feet.

Already the riot police have been used against the students on more than one occasion. There is constant watch by the state police, but the students have held their ground bravely, with help from the incredible worker and community support. Different camps have been set up in and around the campus, maintained by the workers, professors, parents of the students, unions and organizations.

This is all created as a direct result of the chief of police recently stating that no one can take food or water to the strikers. The chief of police decided to do this after Governor Luis Fortuna, in his State of the Country speech, said, “To study in the University of Puerto Rico is a privilege not a right.” This is the attitude that the university administration, backed by the government, has tried to take in regards to the students, but the students are still fighting and standing strong and they will not stop until every one of their demands are met.

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