Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mass Student Arrests in Puerto Rico

At least 50 demonstrators were arrested today protesting fee hikes at the University of Puerto Rico. According to some Twitter reports, there may have been as many as 80 arrests. Activists shut down UPR for two months last year to protest fee hikes and privatization schemes. Among those arrested were student movement leaders, such as Adriana Mulero, several nuns, and a teachers’ union leader, Rafael Feliciano.

Government crackdowns have become much more aggressive in the past few weeks. Assistant Superintendent of Field Operations, Leovigildo Vazquez, admitted to using pressure point compliance holds that many consider a form of torture. In protests last week, police used tear gas, pepper spray, batons, and Taser guns against students. One student was clubbed in the head and another hit by a car.

UPR serves about 65,000 students on 11 campuses, and is the largest university in the Caribbean. It is estimated that at least 10,000 students will drop out of the system as a result of the fee hike.

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