San Juan mayor held responsible for UPR gate opening
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez held San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz responsible for the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Río Piedras campus strike, arguing the duty falls on the municipality of San Juan and the Municipal Police, not the State Police Department.
This was confirmed by the speaker when leaving Monday’s legislative conference between Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and the New Progressive Party (NPP) caucus in the Legislative Assembly to discuss several core issues, which Méndez barely mentioned.
“University autonomy requires that the government does not intercede. We are going to respect what the law says. The protection of students at the gates is the responsibility of the Municipal Police of San Juan. There has been no call to that body, we invite the Municipal Police and the mayor to take action on the protection requested by the university administration,” Méndez said despite the fact that during past administrations of his party, the state police force has intervened directly during student strikes.
For his part, Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario declined to comment on the UPR administration’s request for the state police to intercede with the students blocking the campus entrance because they still don’t have the writ of mandamus against the police force.
Moreover, Rosario assured that the Rosselló administration will respect university autonomy because, he assured, it is up to the UPR, its interim president, student leaders and professors to establish the dialogue required to reopen the campus.
“It is something the Puerto Rico Police will not be doing,” he said.
When asked how many UPR-related measures were discussed during the legislative meeting, Rosario explained that all proposed measures, including proposals presented by students, are under evaluation, and recalled that measures on bills that seek to raise funds for the public university system were introduced by the students themselves.
“A commemorative license plate; a commemorative marbete [vehicle certification sticker]; a bill to donate your change to the UPR. These three measures, which were recommended by the students, were supported by the administration and were filed as administration bills. Those three bills, with the majority party’s legislative conference, today the governor and the presidents of the [legislative] bodies pledged to fast-track them so that they are turned into law in the near future and it receive additional resources to those the governor already identified,” he said.
“In February, we sent a letter to the fiscal oversight board, in which we identified several measures that require some form of administrative action and they have been under development. Along the way, student leaders met with the governor and it has been the first meeting between a governor and student leaders in the context of a strike in the history of Puerto Rico,” Rosario added.
“We will be analyzing them as we did with the other three. It has to be good for Puerto Rico and feasible for the UPR, which was the [test] passed by the three measures the student leaders presented,” he said.