In Puerto Rico, thousands of striking university students packed a coliseum in San Juan Wednesday in an unprecedented national assembly to discuss austerity cuts proposed by Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board in order to pay Wall Street bondholders. The students voted to strike indefinitely in protest of plans to cut $450 million from the University of Puerto Rico general fund. This is striking student Verónica Figueroa Huertas.
Verónica Figueroa Huertas: “We need to balance what we win versus what we lose, if we are in the fight or not. In the past we’ve seen how other fellows have sacrificed themselves to save the university and the access to it. If we need to lose the semester, something that has never happened before due to shutdowns and strikes but is one of the counter-arguments—if this is the first time we lose a semester, we lose it and retake it. I think that to be able to come up with solutions that change and transform the values of our society, and that transform the system, we need to invest in tools such as education. And we are the ones who need to put pressure and organize politically to make that happen.”
The striking students are demanding reforms including an end to budget cuts, no tuition increases, and an independent audit of Puerto Rico’s debt.