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Puerto Rico: Ready for the National Strike

Puerto Rico is getting ready for the national strike on Thursday, October 15. Since governor Luis Fortuño layed-off about 17,000 government employees the first week of October, there has been tremendous mobilization from different sectors of the civil society: workers and members of trade unions, women, environmentalists, students, and professors, among others. There have been multiple demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience to protest the economic policies that the government has assured are necessary due to the financial crisis. In total this year, the recently elected government has laid off around 25,000 public employees.

In the last months hostility has grown between the government and different civil society groups: eviction orders in socially and economically disadvantaged communities, police brutality, and the dismantlement of community initiatives such as the Fideicomiso del Caño Martín Peña. There have also been a string of comments from government officials considered offensive and insensitive, such as the now sadly famous “such is life”, and more recently, when the Governor's designated Chief off Staff Marcos Rodríguez Ema compared demonstrators to terrorists. This is the context of the national strike on Thursday. In response to this comment, Tito Otero has posted a video of a boy playing the violin in front of the Congress. We can hear the boy say: “I am not a terrorist. I believe in justice for my country.”

Bloggers and twitterers are getting ready for the strike which aims to paralyze the country for one day. In Cargas and descargas [ES] Edwin Vázquez has covened bloggers and citizens to use Twitter and Facebook to circulate information the day of the national strike. Already, the people at @caribnews are asking followers for hashtag suggestions, and the conversation has started under #twittericans.

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  • Michael Sullivan

    People get laid off when companies, group, municipalities etc can’t afford to pay for them. Puerto Rico has a very high percentage of people working for the government as compared to other countries.

    Simply said, if you can’t afford to pay 17,000 employees how are you supposed to pay them???

    • Bruce C.

      That’s the bind the pols find themselves in: They either trigger a strike by laying people off, or they trigger a strike when people’s paychecks start bouncing due to NSF.

      It’s a good thing PR isn’t an independent country with it’s own currency, or they’d be trying to save their skins by printing money.

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  • Raymond Duplease

    One comment about 17,000 Employees of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico being laid off was”if yopu can’t afford to pay 17,000 employees how are you supposed to pay them?” was either very cynical or very ill informed. Before the Governor of Puerto Rico laid off all those middle and low income workers, he should have cut his own salary and that of all those in the higher echelons of power in Puerto Rico in half, gave up his free housing in the Governors mansion and moved into a two bedroom apartment. Why is it always reasonable to make the average people suffer while the rich and powerful make not the least sacrifice themselves; especially when it is the rich and powerful who create the financial messes to begin with?

  • Hello,

    I would like to also urge everyone to use the hashtag #ParoPR so that we can aggregate everything onto the following blog:

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  • Estrella Rodriguez

    The Governor gave an interview not too long ago explaining what is really going on. He explained how he made cuts on cellphones and cars paid by the goverment etc. Ask yourself this question, Do rather have 17,000 people working that they don’t need or close the schools, close every goverment office, they wont even have police in the streets of PR because they wont be able to afford them!! It’s sad but it true this in not the first time this happends a long time ago and it was not pretty!! God may be with Puerto Rico!!

  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Puerto Rico: A brief history of a new species, the “Twittericans”()

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