Students Get To Talk

By Cristina Barrios Gonzále

     The economic crisis that Puerto Rico is facing has brought anxiety, tension, and restlessness to undergraduate and graduate students and changed their daily lives.

     “To face the crisis, I have been considering graduate studies so I can be more competitive in the labor force,” said Carla Fabián González former student of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras (UPRRP). This is the reality of many undergraduate students, at a time when the national economy has nothing to offer them and    legislative projects may affect its structure, operational budget, employees, students, and teaching methods.

    According to the American Labor Market Information System, nowadays the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico stands at 16.5 percent and the government is announcing even more layoffs of public employees.

     This crisis is forcing Puerto Ricans to make contingency plans and adjustments in their lifestyles. The majority knows that nowadays the dollar has to be stretched until the last cent. Keila D. Soto Cruz, a UPRM student of Business Administration, loves shopping but is restraining her passion this year

     Other students fear how the crisis might affect their family. “I How I will support my, 3 year old, son if I cannot find a job when I finish my bachelor’s degree?” asked, the full time student at the UPRM, Natalia García Rivera.

     On the other hand, many students agree that the layoffs and privatization of public entities is not the solution to face the problem. Dr. José Alameda Lozada, economist and professor at UPRM, argues that the solution is to raise taxes, evaluate the Island’s social needs and reorganize government services. These measures facts will let us know whether a smaller or larger public sector is needed.

On the other hand, students like José Agustín López, a graduate student from the School of Architecture at UPRRP, believe that the decline in the Puerto Rican economy leads to social crises.  He expressed that the situation is a chain reaction; one thing led to another. He alleged that individuals retain their money, by not making any investment in the market. In effect there’s no flow of money because of the fear of losing it. Simultaneously, he sustain that the economic and social crisis can be battled changing the mindset of people and promoting investments.

            This financial crisis affects everyone worldwide. Fear, disbeliefe and mistrust creates depression, stress, or anxiety amongst individuals.  If individuals regain their trust in society and their governments agencies, this will drive back the economy.

Law 7’s multiple attacks

By: Ernie Rivera Ramos

The Law 7 is not only threatening our jobs security, but also our culture, our education and our future.

“The law 7 affected our culture by firing a lot of workers at the Museum at Sabana Grande,” said Emmanuel Santiago, a Mechanical Engineer student from the UPRM.

Similar situations have been reported at “El Museo de la Masacre” in Ponce, “Porta Coeli” in San Germán and “The Fortín Conde de Mirasol” in Vieques, when 135 of 300 workers got fired according to a report published by Luis Pedraza Leduc in http://www.solidaridadpr.com.

The workers of the parks and museums were fired because they were not considered essential. The message is that cultural workers aren’t significant.

Many people suffered the effects of Law 7, for example, in the Office of Special Communities 132 from the total of 148 employees were fired. As a result, 700 poor communities were left without training services and community development organizations. In addition, 10,000 workers ‘voluntarily resigned,’ and another 16,790 were fired from their job, which each of them has 3 to 4 persons to feed. That would make more than 30,000 families with money and food issues and 120,000 lives suffering unjustly, estimates Pedro Leduc as well in http://www.solidaridadpr.com.

I’m aware that this Law puts in jeopardy the UPR system privatizing our services and facilities, added Santiago.

The US entity in charge of accrediting 47 universities in Puerto Rico (UPR) was worried by the personnel loss in the Board of Higher Education, loss caused by Law 7.

The Middle State Commission on Higher Education in October 28th sent a letter to Luis Fortuño expressing its concern about the firing of license college programs. The Board of Higher Education lost 22 of their 57 employees.

Without the Middle State’s accreditation more than 200,000 UPR students who receive Pell scholarships will lose this benefit. Annually the Board of Higher Education for the first time gives 200 licenses to the 106 institutes from the Academic Program, said Aida Freytes, acting director of the Licensing and Accreditation Division of the Board of Higher Education.

“If a program is not authorized, it won’t get the Pell scholarship,” said David Báez, Director of the Board of Higher Education, in a report made by José A. Delgado.

Richard Pokrass, a spokesman for the U.S. entity, explained that any action that will be made from now on will depend on the information to be compiled by Vice-president Luis Pedraja, who is interviewing students, staff, and administrators of universities.

“Is unheard-of that the governor is putting in jeopardy our future professional’s education; I request the Governor to stop this policy that has done so much damage to the country,” said PD Senator Alejandro García, on November 5th, the same day the reply to the Middle States letter was made.

All this information mentioned before proves that both the culture and the universities are victims of the Law 7 attacks.

Evidently Law 7’s impact goes beyond unemployment figures in the present. It presages meager times in our future.

Cybernetic Crime:

By: Ángel Fuentes Cosme

San Juan-The Puerto Rico Senate is currently evaluating Law initiative 1290 of Electronic Crimes in the Internet, to regulate crime activity on the Web. There have been private meetings between senators to address to this project, in the past weeks. The law intends to reduce criminal activities on the internet.

In these finals weeks of October the senate is proposing to bring control into criminal actions on the Web. “The reasons are the daily changes that Puerto Rico, and the world, faces because of the development of the Web in which people are more vulnerable to crime ” according to the law initiative. The law means to bring protection to individuals in terms of their personal information, their property and defamation.

The law project is divided in several chapters that describe the actions that are going to be considered as crime. These include crimes against private property, crimes against the State, crimes against information and telecommunications and crimes against individuals and privacy.

The chapter on crimes against property defines crime as the use of the Internet to sell illegal or stolen products, and the illegal purchase of products by fictitious ways.

The chapter on crimes against State proposes to criminalize the use of government computers without authorization and the obtaining and divulging of government information.

On the other hand, crimes against telecommunications and information would include the alteration and destruction of data the theft of computer time and systems and the attack against organizations and identities.

The last chapter on crimes against the individual’s seeks to penalize defamation and death threats via the Internet.

Not everybody agrees that Law initiative 1290 safeguards the public. For Dr. Mario Núñez, professor in the Social Sciences department at Uprm, “the problem with this law is that it can be used to repress the people”. In his view, the law attempts to curtail freedom of expression, especially in the section that criminalizes the defamation of another person or identity via the Internet.

This law is under consideration at a time when telecommunications and the Internet are being used to present different and challenging opinions about the government. The law initiative was created by a committee composed of several senators that have been criticized, by different sectors because of how they have managed the problem with the infamous Law #7. The Law that is putting out of labor thousands of government employees. The authors are Rivera Schatz, Martinez Maldonado, Ríos Santiago, and Peña Ramírez and Burgos, the same who were criticized for approving Law #7.

“The timing of this law is suspicious” added Núñez, “because this tries to clam the different sectors that are giving opinions”. To be approved law projects have to be endorsed by bodies in the legislative district, and require public hearings. However, Núñez warns that often the senate has approved several laws without public hearings. “This could be a possibility, people aren’t informed about this law and is not become a priority, because this law doesn’t affect the people right away” Núñez said.

“There is danger in this law because it doesn’t provide a good definition of what is injury, defamation and moral” said Núñez. The psychology professor and award-winning blogger further noted that the law, if passed, could seriously impact university students. “Their opinions posted in blogs and videos on the Internet could be processed under the Law”, warned Núñez.

The penalties that the law gives to the different crimes range from six months in jail to $ 5,000 fine. “These penalties are very drastic” said attorney Javier Fuentes, “because by this law they are in contradiction to the Constitution, in the part of free expression, making it almost illegal to approve it.”

The law was presented in the Senate on October 28. It is currently under consideration despite the fact that the general public is unaware of it.

The law is waiting for its approval

(http://www.safekinder.com/imagenes/mama_computadora.jpg)

What you do not notice…

By : Jesirel M. Rivera

The UPRM Band at the Puertorica Parade at New York

It’s Tuesday, 9:30 am, and the music starts at the University of Puerto Rico ,Mayaguez. Some students do not know where it`s coming  from,  but enjoy sounds and rhythms. Some start to dance and feel the music; this happens every week.

Members of an institution or university celebrate its  achievements as if they were their own. For many it is a privilege to belong to the UPRM. Students often celebrate the  academic and sporting achievements of this institution, but just as often forget  a group that represents us not only in Puerto Rico but  also internationally. The UPRM Band and Orchestra, is a group of students with incredible musical gifts.

According to the official page of the University (www.uprm.edu), this Band is compose of  around 130 students divided in different sections. They represent diverse disciplinary interest but have a  common characteristic; their love of music.

The Band and Orchestra is divided in to the marching band, the concert band and the majorettes. It recently celebrated Its 95th anniversary. It was founded in 1914 when the university was still the “Colegio de Agricultura y Artes Mecanicas” (CAAM) .Currently it is directed by Efren Gregory Ramírez who has been at the job for 23 years. During is time the band has represented the UPRM in many places and activities. It is the official band of the InterUniverity Sports Competition. Also according to the university web page , this year the band also represented Puerto Rico at the Puerto Rican day parade in New York, leaving many people impressed with its music and talent.

Band members are proud to represent the university publicly and gain much from this experience . Luis A. Lassalle is a first saxophonist in the marching band . He said that the band helps him grow up as a person and as a leader. “Help me mature and develop responsibility because I have to deal with academic and extracurricular matters,” added Lassalle.

One important member of the band is the drums major; he is the leader of the marching band, and is in charge of the order and the discipline of the band. The drums’ major job includes giving commands  to start each number , counting the time and  manage the dances of the band . The current drums major of the UPRM marching band is Wilfredo Cordero Cruz. He is in his 4th year in Civil engineering. “It is a new experience and very challenging. It is very rewarding because it tests you as a leader, it’s not easy to accept orders from others and is a difficult task for me to have a group to respect and accept my ideas,” said Wilfredo about his job. “I like it, is the only time that I forget the problems and do not think of anything else”.

The Band and Orchestra work very hard .They practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30am to 12:00pm and they practice for each performance when it’s needed .Practice time is  divided the between concert band and the marching band. The protocol to the concert band is that  first all the members tune their instrument s with the oboe. Generally is one oboe for a band.  Then the fun begins :they make music. The band plays all music genres like movie themes,  latin music , contemporaneous music , etc . Then the members of concert band join the rest of the students that make up the marching band. The drums major gives the command start marching and practicing the music and the dance.

According to some students t he Band and Orchestra make the UPRM students  proud of be part of this college , they teach us each day  the talent  and spirit of a student and how a lot of different persons can be together working for represent the real University of Puerto Rico , Mayaguez.

Are beaches public

By Ashlyann Arana Morales

Are beaches public

What this camp stands for. La Posa No Se Vende.

 

                 

 

One of the most famous beaches in Puerto Rico, La Posa in Arecibo, might not open to everyone.  The tent city La Posa No Se Vende, La Posa Se Defiende is doing the impossible to keep the beach public. 

 

 

 

Most beaches in Puerto Rico are public.  But here in Arecibo we had another story. The famous beach La Posa might close its doors to the public.      

Because of this, community mebers set up a tent city.  Their goal is to stop this decision, and keep the beach open to everyone.  The name of the city is La Posa No Se Vende, La Posa Se Defiende.

Juan Alvaro Chapel has rented the Faro from Arecibo, a restaurant named El Faro and the area where La Posa is of $1,600 monthly.   Tent city believe that Chapel hopes to become the owner of all these places, close the beach and build a hotel in the area.  This way people who wanted to go to La Posa have to stay in his hotel.

“The beach is for the community and the law says that in coastal zones there should not be any structures.” said Ismael Gonzáles the spokes person of the tent city.

Chapel put a barrier in the beach to block access and took out the public showers that were there.  The protesters fought back and made possible the access to the beach and some showers for the public to use.

 

In June 11, 2009 the court ordered Chapel to take out the barriers that he put on the beach, but he didn’t comply.

The tent city have organized some activities for the public in favor of La Posa, to demonstrate to everyone that the public is in favor of their struggle.  They want with to get everyone supports.     

In October 3, 2009 the tent city had a volleyball tournament with 98 participants from seven municipalities.  In November 28, 2009 they are going to have a softball tournament, for which they hope to have the same cooperation of the people.

The tent city was set up in.  Its organizers are determined to stay there as long as it takes.  To keep the beach free and public.

The problem now is that the government is trying to tire them out.  Ismael says:”the court gives everyone every month an appointment, but to us is every 3 month.”  But still he said that no one is making them change their opinion.

Police men watch them every day, every hour, which makes the demonstrators feel criminalized.  

 

They are trying to get everyones attention and cooperation.  Campers have created some art on the walls, which hard work and the freedom  

“Some people think we are vandalizing, but that is not what we are doing.  We are making art so people know how we feel”, said Gonzáles. 

 

 

La Posa is a beach that has clear and clean water.    Is one of the beaches that hasn’t been contaminated in Puerto Rico.

In the past few years contamination has seriously affected Puerto Rico.  In 2006 we had six beaches that were contaminated, and this number has been increasing.  Now a day we have proximally 20 beaches contaminated.     

They are contaminated because of the trash, but especially because of the bacteria that scientists have discover in the water.  Those bacteria can cause throat and ear infections as well as other illness.

 

 

Dark Friday for 2,097 Government Employees

 

By: Karla M. Rivera De Jesús

           A wave of protests and work stoppages swept across several locations around the island on Friday, November 6, in solidarity with the 2,097 public employees laid off because of the fiscal emergency measure known as Law #7.

UPRM students show their discontent with the law #7

            November 6 was a historical day in Puerto Rico. Many Puerto Ricans, including single mothers, were dismissed from their jobs due to the implementation of Law # 7. This law has generated massive protests during the last few months.

            The day started with a symbolic manifestation at the Luis A. Ferré Highway, where the median became a sort of cemetery covered by white crosses, which symbolized, a dark Friday for many Puerto Ricans.

            On that day a work stoppage was held at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM) by students (who maintain a tent city in one of the UPRM main gates) and professors. It was meant as an expression of solidarity with their neighbors, parents, uncles, cousins and friends who were or will be dismissed.

            Moreover, a protester climbed to the Mayagüez Medical Center water tank and stood in protest for the dismissals of thousands of public employees. The individual, identified as 18-years-old  Cristian Alvarado, stood in the tower for two hours hoisting a Puerto Rican flag.

            While these protests were took place in the Western region, a group of UPR-Rio Piedras students handed a dismissal letter to Governor Luis Fortuño at the Santa Catalina Palace.

            Moreover, a group of public employees stopped at noon, for 30 minutes, the traffic through the Minilla’s tunnel and De Diego Avenue in front of the main government center.

            Despite the support of thousands of people to these protests, there are thousands who believe these actions violate their rights. This is the case of Yanittza Allison, a 19-year-old UPRM student who is operated and has to walk every day to her classes risking her health because of the tent city that is blocking the Barcelona gates.

            On normal conditions, Yanittza would not have to walk as much as she is now because the UPRM trolley would leave her almost in front of the buildings where she takes classes. “Unfortunately, there’s a tent city that is blocking the gates because they are defending their rights, but they are also denying mine”, she said while she was climbing the stairs and touching the stitches of her surgery that cause her pain. “I don’t find any reasonable reason for them to block the gates. In fact, whatever it is they are ‘fighting for’ I don’t think that doing a tent city would help them to achieve those goals, but to bother the student body and professors,” she added. Her friend Sheily, who helps Yanittza with her books, sighed and said, “that’s what I call the pain of democracy.”

            On the other hand, Hispanic Studies professor, Elsa Arroyo thinks that everyone should support the tent city and every work stoppage on campus. “That’s one way to let this government know that we don’t like what they’re doing,” she said. Arroyo teaches feminism, which is a doctrine that promotes collective action and equality of genders. Through feminist readings, the students learn about the achievements of the workers through history. She takes time in her classes to inform students about news and let them express themselves. “I think that going to college doesn’t necessarily means being in a classroom taking notes and exams. It takes much more than that,” she added.

            UPRM community members are evidently divided in two sides: for and against the public demostrations. Both sides complain about each other, but they try to respect different opinions throughout the historically event that is occurring in the island.

Citizens march in protest against the law # 7

A Quick Look at the Vast Universe

The exhibition was in the UPRM for a week, and then it will continue

            By: Xiomara Abreu

From November 9 to 13of 2009, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM), in association with NASA, hosted an exhibition of panoramic photos of the Universe. The exhibit was provided in the Physics building.

            The exhibition “From Earth to the Universe” was organized by NASA and the Caribbean Society of Astronomy at UPRM to celebrate International Astronomy Year. The exhibit was also made to commemorate the centennial of NASAʼs astronomy research.

The project includes a collection of images and conferences to be delivered in public places -mostly colleges- around the world.

            At UPRM specially, the exhibition will include more conference resources because they are members of the Caribbean Society of Astronomy. This association was founded in UPRM in 2000 and is constituted by graduates from the UPRM and people from a variety of professions.

            The exhibition includes 50 images about the planets, nebulas, constellations and remains of supernovas. It also has of a touchable section of pictures for kids.

A nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and plasma.  A constellation is a set of stars in a form or pattern. A supernova is a star explosion.

One of the most interesting pictures is an image of Saturn. “I like this picture a lot because it was taken from a different perspective,” said Eddie Irizarry, president of the Caribbean Society of Astronomy and former student of UPRM.

The picture was taken from an angle that the Sun was behind Saturn, so it’s actually an eclipse. An eclipse is when a partial or complete obscuring, relative to a designated observer, of one celestial body by another.  The light was so bright at that point that Planet Earth can be seen as one little dot in the picture.

            Another picture that has captivated the attention of the public is an image of Mars. The image shows a canyon that is almost the size of the Grand Canyon in Colorado, Arizona. The volcanoes showed in the surface of Mars are also an interesting feature. One of the volcanoes, named Mount Olympus, is three times taller than the Everest Mountain.

“This volcano is so big that if we could climb it to the top, we will see from one half the blue sky and the other half the black sky with the stars,” said Irizarry. “This spectacle to the sight happens because it is so high that it’s out of the atmosphere,” he added.

The size of Mars is 4,000 miles of diameter while Earth is 8,000 miles of diameter. Even though Mars is half the size of the Earth, in territorial area the two are equivalent. This is due to the absence of oceans in Mars.

However, about a month ago was discovered water in Mars, according to the NASA. This information is known because of a picture that was taken by a satellite if a meteor that crashed in the surface of Mars. The freeze water that was discovered was analyzed and resulted 99 percent pure.

            The most recent picture in the exhibition is one about the Comet C/2004 Q2 Machholz, which is located near the Pleiades 52 million kilometers away from our galaxy. A comet is a celestial object that is composed of a mass of ice and dust and has a long luminous tail that can only be seen when it passes close to the sun.  

The Pleiades are not a constellation but a group of stars that appear in the winter forming a “P” shape. A galaxy is a massive gravitationally bound of stars, stars remains, planets and moons.

This comet was discovered by Donald Machholz on August 27, 2004. The photograph was taken by a satellite in 2005, but now this comet could be seen at simple sight form the Earth. The last time the comet appeared was in January of 2008. The Pleiades are not a constellation; they are a group of stars that appear in the winter forming a “P” shape.

            “By looking at this image collection and hearing the explanations for each of them we can notice how immense and interesting our Universe is,” added Irizarry.

Law #7, Plan to Save Puerto Rico

By: Sylvia Rivera

From: masenlucha.org

On Friday, November 6, 2009 the Government left approximately 2,097 people unemployed due to the implementation of the “Special Law Declaring Fiscal Emergency and Establishing a Plan of Comprehensive Fiscal Stabilization to Save the Credit of Puerto Rico”, better known as Law #7.

In the month of September, phase two of Law #7 was put into effect. Job termination letters were sent to thousands of government employees. As a result, 17,000 employees were expected to lose their jobs on November 6, 2009.

However, due to the pressure of labor and individuals unions, who brought their cases to court with the intention of paralyzing the dismissals, the date was postponed for approximately 15,000 people. The Board of Fiscal Restoration and Stabilization has now announced that phase two of Law #7 will be put into effect of January 6, 2010.

One of the agencies that was granted a postponement was the Public Service Commission (CSP in Spanish). The CPS was established in Puerto Rico in June 26, 1917 by the Jones Act.  This agency with approximately 300 employees, is going to lose 118 workers, most of them from federal programs.

From: gobierno.pr

According to Magda González, a worker in the Safety Program and Transportation of Hazardous Materials, “the dismissal letters were given to employees who had served 15, 16 and even 21 years in the agency” despite the fact that the Law establishes that employees with more   than 13 years of service would not be fired.

Magda González, who belongs to one of the federal programs in the Public Services Commission, was also given the letter of dismissal on September 25, 2009.  She explained that many of her co-workers offered alternatives such as lowering the seven work days to five, as an option to preserve their jobs. However, these suggestions were not taken into consideration.

The letter established that her employment as to be terminated on November 6, 2009. However, due to the postponement, she will continue working until January 6, 2009 when phase two takes effect. To this day, Mrs. González has yet to receive an official notification of is extension.

The letters that the dismissed employees are receiving include additional documents which present alternative plans. Among the alternatives the government is offering are: $5,000 in educational grants for college, $2,500 in technical and vocational training, $2,500 in relocation cost, $5,000 for those wishing to open their own businesses,  and up to 15,000 in subsidized salary grants for those who are hired in the private sector.

The Government has also provided online appointments for the completion of applications.   Applications for welfare, unemployment and job opportunities can be found in the website www.puetoricotrabaja.com/peeg.

Currently, policemen, social workers and special education teachers are exempt from the effect of Law #7. “I wasn’t dismissed from my job but that doesn’t mean that my agency won’t be privatized”, said Jeidy Sánchez, a social worker from the Department of Family Services of the Mayagüez region.

Jeidy belived that the decision the Government made will be costly and will result in the privatization of government agencies. “Private companies will determine which employees will stay or which will be replaced by the ones they would be bringing in”.

Sánchez noted that the employees that were dismissed were janitors and secretaries. Where there were once 20 secretaries, now there will be only five. This will increase the amount of work that each remaining employee will have to endure which will lead to the exploitation of the workers and/or the inefficiency of the department.

“License and Accreditation, Please”

Could it really be that easy?...

by Hamir J Grau Rivera

The American organization in charge of accrediting 47 universities of Puerto Rico has expressed concerns for the effect that the personnel reduction in the Council of Higher Educación (CES) – as product of the controversial Law 7 – could have on the process and access to the Pell scholarships.

On October 28, the Middle States Commision on Higher Education sent a warning to the governor Luis Fortuño and the secretary of Education, Carlos Chardón, due to its fear that the CES, that was forced to dismiss 22 of their 57 employees, is without the personnel necessary to evaluate and to license the academic programs of the university institutions of the Island.

Without the license that the CES grants to the university academic programs, the American organization cannot credit the universities of Puerto Rico nor allow the access to the Pell scholarships, by means of which about 200,000 students of the Island receive almost $800 million every year.

The Middle States Comission of Higher Education sent a letter to San Juan to its vice-president, Luis Pedraja, who is at the moment in a mission of collecting information, that includes conversations with university administrators and students, said Richard Pokrass, spokesman of the American organization.

In the letter, the directors of the Middle States – its main head Michael Middaugh, its temporary president Elizabeth Sibolski, and Pedraja- showed their restlessness towards “the significant dismissals in the CES”, mainly of analysts and personnel in charge of “the steep” accreditation and the direction changes of the University of Puerto Rico.

Also they make reference to information of press on commentaries of the governor Luis Fortuño, made on October 8th, in the sense that the CES could be eliminated or fused with the General Council of Education of Puerto Rico, that regulates the private schools of elementary education.

Without the licenses of the CES to which approximately 2,000 of the academic programs that the universities of Puerto Rico have – like the UPR, the Inter-American University, the University of the Sacred Heart and the system Ana G. Méndez-, the Middle States cannot grant its accreditations nor authorize the delivery of Pell scholarships for students.

Pokrass explained that any action the Middle States makes will depend on the information that its vice-president Pedraja compiles in Puerto Rico.

“We wanted to call the attention – particularly of the Governor- that the licenses (that the CES emits) are important”, Pokrass added.

Annually, the CES renews, or grants for the first time, 200 licenses of the academic programs that exist in the 106 institutions that they regulate, which includes the several campuses that a university can have, said Aida Freytes, temporary director of the Division of Licensing and Accreditation of the CES.

The initial plan of the reduction of the JREF personnel caused the resignations of the previous directors of the CES, headed by Jose Motto Moya, who also alerted that the plan of the Government was directed to eliminate the operation of the CES.

Before the complaints of the CES, the JREF restored five of the 27 job posts that were going to be eliminated.

Still, the Division of Licensing and Accreditation of the CES was reduced by 50%, of 20 analysts to only 10.

In the end, the total of dismissals was 22, a reduction of nearly 38% of the CES personnel.

Last One Standing Match

By: Ricardo Rivera Torres

With money raised from students that visit the Camp the protesters are able to still put.

In front of the Barcelona gate a group of students is fighting for the rights of every student and the integrity of the UPRM.

This group, which includes students from all departments of the university, has made sacrifices in order to maintain its “Campamento de Resistencia Civil Colegial” and to fulfill their academic responsibilities.

Made up of about 25 students, the group tries to carry a message. Even though they are not in favor of the Ley 7 and the lay offs these are not the main focus of their protest. The purpose of the CRCC is to demand the University to avoid the consequences for the University from this Law and the “APP”. They are also concerned about the possibility of the UPR of losing its accreditation. However, this was denied by the current interim president of the university Miguel Muñoz in a recent e-mail sent to the academic community. In the letter the president states that the UPR has a license to operate until 2017 and claims that the University will not lose federal scholarships.              

The students stay in the camp hasn’t been easy due to the opposition and threats they had received. When they started the protest an organized group of students who opposed the CRCC blocking the Barcelona gate confronted them. But after that group talked with the protesting students and understood the purpose of the Camp they backed down. “Every student who opposes us, once he/she understands our objective, then becomes our most frequent visitor and supporter”, Ivannie Figueroa , a member of the CRCC.

Most UPRM students think that these activists are a bunch of inconsiderate students who don’t care about studying and are just in need of attention. However, the tent city dwellers are organized in such manner that they can deal with all their academic responsibilities. They rotate so that they can attend classes. Their improvised dwelling also has a study area and even a computer centre with its own modem.

The UPRM has seldom partaken in student strikes or protests. For many, the Barcelona tent city is a historical event this particular protest might be considered an historical moment. “The fact that the CRCC has lasted one month, that the gate where the protest is happening, with the bust of Jose De Diego and the Puerto Rican flag, represents the autonomy of the UPR make this event much more memorable”, said Figueroa. Will this tent city obtain the results that they wish? Only time will say. The fight of power and will is just starting.

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