The University of Puerto Rico central campus in Rio Piedras is currently under siege by operatives of a private security firm called Capitol Security, which has been contracted by the University for what has been estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars (one report by WAPA TV’s Rafael Lenín López puts the figure at $1.5 million). Capitol Security forces have been clashing with students since last night in a low-intensity conflict involving the construction and subsequent removal of barriers place in front of the university gates by striking students. The current strike is in protest of a proposed $800 per semester increase in tuition, which strike leaders assert will make it impossible for many students to continue to attend.
The report by Lenín López, which can be found here, describes how operatives used by Capitol Securities are packing knives and sticks to confront and menace students, and there were some clashes last night. In turn, student activists held a press conference today claiming that they had been threatened with death and “disappearing” by Capitol Security personnel, something that has led them to wear masks to protect their identities.
This eye-opening report from Telemundo PR (go to “Ejecutivos de la Capitol Security se cantan como víctimas por suceso en la upi”) reveals how many of the operatives of Capitol Securities are basically unemployed youth with no training whatsoever in law enforcement or crowd control and simply enjoy the chance to bust heads of college students, who in Puerto Rico’s rapidly deteriorating economy, are their class enemies.
Puerto Rico’s government has been elected to carry out a plan of austerity and massive cuts in government funding that willfully impoverishes the majority of its people. It is willing to carry out this plan using rag-tag security forces that amount to a goon squad, one whose violence will be justified as a necessary evil to quash a group of middle-class students demonized as terroristic, anarchistic, socialists. The crisis is just beginning, and don’t be surprised if it comes to your town someday soon.
UPDATE 1:20 AM EST: The “Tea Party Anti-Huelga Facebook page has announced a special activity scheduled for 4 AM Puerto Rico time: “Plan Agua Ardiente” designed to remove strikers from the Rio Piedras campus. The page suggests you bring a pellet gun, taser, pepper gas or baseball bat, among other weapons. This storm-tropper fantasy is an apparent offshoot of Cambio 51 Diario Digital, which is an apparent offshoot of the Puerto Rican Statehood Students Association, founded by Kenneth McClintock and Luis Fortuño. It’s Jack Abramoff College Republicans en español.
The San Juan media is reporting this remarkable effort at rapprochement by striking students toward Capitol Security operatives in an attempt to show class and racial solidarity. This intention was hinted at various times last night during broadcasts on radiohuelga. The following is from a statement by student leader Giovanni Roberto:
“Si nosotros venimos hoy aquí a protestar es para hacer un pais mejor. Tenemos derechos a ser igual pero no es así. Por qué Loíza es un pueblo de negro? Por qué Carolina es un pueblo de negro? Se llama racismo institutionalizado. Por qué quedarnos ahí? No somos sus enemigos. No venimos a luchar contra ustedes. Venimos a hacer un país para todos ustedes, porque tú eres igual que yo.”
[my translation: If we come here today to protest it’s to make a better country. We have the right to be equal but it’s not like that. Why is Loíza a “black” town? Why is Carolina a “black” town? It’s called institutionalized racism. Why let that be? We aren’t your enemies. We didn’t come here to fight against you. We came to make a country for all of you, because you are my equal.”]