UPR students continue protest in Botanical Garden
SAN JUAN – Students of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) continue protesting at the institution’s administrative headquarters, five days after the Non-teaching Exempt Employees Association (HEEND by its Spanish initials) carried out a protest at the school’s botanical gardens.
Members of the student movement in Río Piedras explained that the strike is part of a series of demonstrations, which include picketing Tuesday at the university’s gardens. According to the Police, the demonstration began around 6:10 a.m. and there were about 50 people surrounding the entrance.
Spokesperson Luis Torres said Tuesday’s demonstrations are a call for UPR interim President Nivia Fernández and the central government to address the university community’s demands, which include an audit of Puerto Rico’s $71 billion public debt and to prevent the multimillion-dollar budget cut to the island’s public university system, as proposed in the certified fiscal plan.
Torres pointed out the most recent document presented by the institution’s interim president, which proposes a $512 million university budget cut. “The UPR will not be able to operate with a $512 million cut. If it can function, it will be mediocre,” he said.
Another spokesperson for the demonstration, María de Lourdes Vaello Calderón, said the group is denouncing that Fernández has excluded the university community from the decision-making process when it comes to the budget cuts.
“She [Fernández] is doing it [the fiscal plan] behind closed doors, without the consent or approval of all the members that make up this institution,” Vaello Calderón stressed.