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Puerto Rico

July 16, 1998

The largest labor protest in Puerto Rico ended last Wednesday following a 48-hour national strike. Half a million people joined in the demonstration against the sale of the state-owned Puerto Rican Telephone Company to the Connecticut-based GTE company.

Ever since Governor Pedro Rossello s announcement in April 1997 that he planned to sell the PRTC, telephone company workers have revolted against the decision to privatize by calling numerous strikes and rallies. Dozens of arrests have taken place and on one occasion, some strikers were beaten unconscious by police in front of television cameras. Polls carried out by major local newspapers have shown that more than 50 percent of Puerto Ricans oppose the sale of the telephone company.

Dubbed the People’s Strike Against Privatisation, the latest work stoppage was organized by the Broad Committee of Labor Organizations (known by its Spanish acronym CAOS), and succeeded in bringing the country to a standstill for hours.


  • Tom Soto, a socialist delegate with CAOS, a coalition of trade unions in Puerto Rico.