By: Myrna Rivera
When we ask a University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM) student about what really is a striker, they will tell us that a striker is someone that participated on a strike and some will say that they are persons that have nothing else to do. If we look in Webster’s dictionary we find that a striker is a participant in a strike. In the last University of Puerto Rico (UPR) 2010 student strike the stereotype of the striker really disagreed with the society’s meaning of being one. With the past of time, strikers became a activist.
For people that studies politics, a real activist is a person that studies the changes of the world, the politics, the economy and the environment. This one does not allow the, things that really affect the society. Also the striker fights for the rights of the others.
A real example of being a activist is the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM) is the medical student Alberto Luis Rodrigüez Rivera, one of the two UPRM representatives in the National Bargaining Committee (NBC) during the May-June UPR strike.
Alberto started in the student movement when he was in 11th grade at the San José College in San Germán, when the “Macheteros” leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was killed at Hormigüeros on September 23, 2005.
“The indignation and the injustice motivate me to continue the work with the student movement” said Alberto during the interview. “Because I have a great responsibility with the society as a student.”
As part of being with the student movement Alberto had to make a lot of sacrifices liked, being out of home for two months, a lot of readings and a lot of tiredness. Those sacrifices do not mean anything to him when he had to fight against injustices.
In May 2010, when the Río Piedras campus called the other UPR’s campuses to become part of the National Bargaining Committee, Alberto answered the call of the UPRM strike
rs in an evening meeting at the Barcelona gate when they voted for him and Coraly León as substitute if Alberto in case of an emergency has to be absent.
After Alberto was chosen to be part of the student’s committee the work was hard and exhausting. Every day the tiredness was bigger and bigger but the reasons to fight were stronger.
“I woke up at 6:00 am, I took a shower, and ate at the gates. At 7:00am I departed to Río Piedras. During the way to “Jardín Botánico”, I read a lot about the laws of the university and I used to hear the news from the radio. At 9:00am I arrived at the UPR administration meeting room, I was in meetings with the President of the UPR, José Ramón de la Torre, and the Board of Regents President, Ygrí Rivera and the other members of the NBC until 5:00pm.”, commented Alberto when I asked him about a normal day in the May-June UPR strike.
“I ate and then returned to the UPRM gates to inform the strikers about the decisions in the meeting” said a humorous Alberto when he talked about his normal day at the UPR strike in May and June 2010.
Alberto counted with the positive energy of the student strikers, but the most important energy came from his mother and his father. His father, Alberto Rodriguez, said that the support from parents is most important in a student movement. “We visited the gates all time because we know how important it is to give our son the protection and support necessary to keep him in the fight.”
Alberto reaffirms that; “Being pa
rt of the CBN brought me an extraordinary experience with a big responsibility that showed me to understand and comprehend the situation of the university.”
From this strike, he learned the importance of reading and analyzing before exposing an argument. He hates when people said that the 2010 strike was not necessary. “That tells me that ignorance is still in the environment, and that is very worry.”
About the problems that surround the university today, he thinks that the university administration is making everything possible to close the campuses and destroy them. “We have to be part of a militant and constant fight,” Said a fighting Alberto at the UPRM assembly celebrated on December 2, 2010.
Today’s fight is against the $800 stabilization fee that will be imposed in January 2011 to students from all the UPRs.
As a loyal fighter in favor of the student’s rights, Alberto has advised other students to read and educate themselves well before doing any argument against or in favor of a problem. He says that to arrive in the place he is right now the most important thing is to get educated.
In the future he wants to finish his medical studies, as his grandfather did, who is Alberto biggest inspiration and supporter.