Puerto Rico: Violence at the Capitol

Violence erupted yesterday after police quashed a peaceful protest held on the grounds of the Capitol of Puerto Rico. The rallyists, composed mostly of students, were dispersed by a phalanx of truncheon-wielding riot squad leaving scores injured.

The rally was held to oppose the imposition of an $800.00 increase in tuition fee at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), among others. Students said that this is a violation of the negotiated deal reached between the UPR Board of Trustees and the students’ negotiating panel, which ended the  2 month-long strike in the eleven (11) campuses of UPR. Environmentalists also joined the rally to protest the planned selling of public lands (northeast ecological corridor and the mogotes).

In response, prominent international artists from Puerto Rico condemned the brutal dispersal. They expressed their dismay at the government’s use of violence to curb a peaceful rally.  Dramatist Roberto Ramos-Perea maintained that the series of police brutality is brought about by a “constitutional coup” of Partido Nuevo Progresista (a pro-statehood political party), which instigated an “atmosphere of hostility followed by many reckless actions that threaten public peace and had climaxed in violent and aggressive actions of this government against the parties of the opposition, the organized student movement, the labor unions, the press, the environment, as against every area and institution of Puerto Rico’s civil society.”

Puerto Rican musicians also contributed to the growing public condemnation of the violence. Below are some of the Twitter and Facebook posts of Calle 13, Tego Calderon, and Ricky Martin on the event (with rough translations):

“Porquería de Gobierno..hay que sacarlos del poder ya!! despierta boricua! esto no puede seguir pasando!” (Shitty government… they have to be kicked out soon!! wake up boricua! this cannot keep on happening!” –Rene Perez of Calle 13

“Superintendente se le fue la mano de nuevo, tenga dignidad y renuncie.” (Superintendent, this is too much again, have dignity and quit.)–Tego Calderon on Police Supt. José Figueroa Sancha, head of the police force

“Una asamblea del pueblo o volaremos en pedazos.” (a meeting of the community or we blow up in pieces) –Eduardo Cabra, “Visitante” Calle 13

“Puerto Rico ya es hora de levantarse. Aquí hay que luchar pa’ darse a respetar. No necesitamos paz, necesitamos luchar! La paz llegará luego.” (Puerto Rico, it is time to wake up. We have to fight here to gain respect. We don’t need peace, we need to fight! Peace will come after.) –Rene Perez of Calle 13

“La violencia solo engendra violencia.” (Violence only begets violence)–Ricky Martin

Here’s a video report of the incident:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

To read more of the incident, please click the links below:

El Nuevo Dia reports

UPR students brutalized at the Capitol


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