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UPR Students Protest Against Flow of Gov’t Funding

By on March 18, 2016

SAN JUAN — University of Puerto Rico (UPR) students, who have declared a three-day stoppage, moved Friday to the Treasury Department in protest of the money owed to the island’s public university. Protesters told reporters the demonstration was an “embargo on Treasury,” in reference to the embargoes, or interventions, the agency has recently conducted against commercial establishments with tax debt. Student signs read, “Important Notice: Property seized for debt with the University of Puerto Rico under Act 2 of 1966.”

The demonstration prompted the Treasury Department to close its doors, with many of its employees learning of the closure as they arrived for work.

“I understand UPR student representatives’ claim,” Treasury Secretary Juan Zaragoza stated on Friday. “There is no doubt the UPR is always important, but its reality cannot be separate from the fiscal crisis the country is facing. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, the liquidity situation is very critical and we must all make sacrifices. At stake are basic health services, the salaries of policemen, teachers, nurses and all public servants in the country, among others.”

Following a meeting with Treasury Deputy Secretary Juan Flores, students moved to the Capitol Building, where they continued the protest.

“Despite this precarious situation, to date we have disbursed $519 million of the $869 million allocated to the UPR in the current fiscal year. The Treasury Department has never suspended its weekly payments to the UPR. We will continue disbursing approximately $18.5 million weekly…until the situation allows us [to provide] a greater amount,” Zaragoza stressed.

“I urge student leaders to join in solidarity and I invite you to join in with your ideas and creativity to find solutions so we can overcome together the fiscal crisis that affects us all,” he added. 

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