Unfortunately the clearest result of today’s spontaneous acts of violence and intimidation of University of Puerto Rico chancellor Ana Guadalupe is that, for the moment, the student strike movement has lost the moral high ground. They have also played into the hands of the university administration and the monopoly ruling party by providing a modicum of justification for the reinstitution of police presence on the campus. The success achieved by forcing the university to remove the tactical riot police squadrons and even the resignation of the university president Ramón de la Torre has been compromised a bit. But this should not invalidate their cause.
As the video above demonstrates, the violence involved in the incident pales in comparison to the violence that striking students faced on several occasions at the hands of the tactical riot police, who used choke holds, pepper gas, pain-inducing techniques, and sexual harassment of women that would shame any civilized country. While it is clear that Guadalupe’s hair was pulled a couple of times and there was some genuine fear on her face as she struggled to get out of the university building and into a flatbed security truck, it’s not certain that she was injured in any way. News outlets are reporting minor wounds sustained by security personnel, but none of this is ascertainable in the video posted above.
What you do see in the video is that the smashing of the security truck’s windows happened after security personnel, when trying to speed Guadalupe out of the parking lot, almost ran over a couple of students who were trying to block its path. And what you don’t see in the initial reports is that Guadalupe is one of the main flashpoints of the entire conflict. Her role has been to obstinately enforce university policies that took away students’ rights to demonstrate on campus, that invited the tactical riot personnel onto the campus and continually justified its presence, and perhaps worst of all, refused to negotiate the legitimate proposals to shift cost burdens brought forth by the students time and time again.
It was that refusal to even recognize these proposals while unleashing several weeks worth of physical and mental violence on student strikers that drove the students’ anger and frustration, which you can clearly see on their faces. And it’s not only the students who are fed up with Guadalupe. The following is a demand that Guadalupe be removed from her position submitted by UPR faculty: