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Puerto Rico: The National Strike (update)

Since early in the morning thousands of people flooded the main avenues and highways of the metropolitan area of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, particularly the financial district, as part of the national strike that aimed to paralyze the country for one day. The strike was convened by the labor movement to protest Governor Luis Fortuño's decision to lay-off around 17,000 government employees (in total there have about 25,000 lay-offs) as part of his economic and financial plan for the country. Workers and members of trade unions, women, students, teachers, religious groups, political organizations, and environmentalists, among other sectors of the civil society, participated in the massive demonstration. Universities, schools, and different work places closed for the day.

A group of people created the project Cuerpo de Documentación on YouTube where they have posted videos of the strike from different points of the Island. The Puerto Rican twittersphere was extremely active. The conversation flowed under the hashtags #paropr and #twittericans. The people at @caribnews, @qiibo, and @microjuris, among many other citizen journalists, were constantly tweeting updates and news about the strike, and providing links to photos and videos.

Protesters in the national strike. Photo sent to GV by a participant.

Protesters in the national strike. Photo sent to GV by a participant.

The demonstrators converged in the immediate area surrounding Plaza Las Américas, the largest mall in the Caribbean and whose owners, the Fonalledas Family, were important contributors of the Governor's campaign. The mall was closed for the day. Organizers of the event and several media outlets have estimated that around 150,000 -200,000 people participated in the massive demonstration. While the Governor's Chief of Staff, Marcos Rodríguez Ema, stated that the strike was ineffective because the decision to lay-off employees will not be overturned. There were no major incidents, although there were moments of tension between students and the police.

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Photo sent to GV by a participant.

For context about the national strike and the situation in Puerto Rico, please see previous posts “A Crisis with Many Names”, “Such is Life”, “The Battle over Public Lands,” and “Ready for the National Strike”. The people at the nonprofit Center for the New Economy have also been regularly posting in-depth analyses on the economic situation in Puerto Rico.

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