Police Take Over University and the Streets of Puerto Rico

A few months ago, the police took over the University of Puerto Rico.

Huelga en la UPR - © Oswar Nieves

Professor Ian A. Bethell Bennett issued the following statement:

As the economic situation worsens as does the political will against the University of Puerto Rico, the institution spirals into decline. After years of teaching here the decrepit state of the facilities still shocks and appals although the decline has been gradual, except for a warp speed boost recently. After the administrative closure of spring 2010, the facilities were sick. Nothing surprising about this, but the damage has been permanent. All service contracts for equipment such as computers and Xerox machines have been cancelled and no new equipment is being procured. This is an excellent way to take the university in the second decade of the 21st century, despite administration's claim of progress. The closure also damaged our international standing, as foreign students shy away from such a volatile institution. Again, the administration claims to want to internationalise UPR, but with each action they plummet it further into chaos and disrepair. International faculty are being pushed out by work permit nightmares and failures to sponsor.

He then concluded, "The newly imposed $800 quote to study at UPR bars countless students from access, so they must seek out education in the more expensive private universities."

This $800 quote served as the basis of the massive university strike, which on January 29th took an unexpected turn. The Puerto Rico S.W.A.T. team swept the streets of Rio Piedras and detained many students.

The images on the news devastate our country. They showed torture methods being used on students to subdue and remove them from the premises. A nun arguing with the police yelled on camera: "There are children in here! This is a disgrace!" She then stated how the kids were crying at the basketball court near the street when they saw the terrifying picture taken right out of an action movie.

People are starting to question acts of police brutality, saying that the Task Force (S.W.A.T. team) is only to be used in situations where people are taken as hostages.

And the government of Puerto Rico?

In a statement issued by the secretary of governor Fortuño he said, "The country is tired of the abuse of these students." He also stated they stood behind the police, as mentioned in Wapa Noticias.

Meanwhile, the murder rate in this small island surpasses 120 victims since the beginning of the year 2011, and students keep being arrested.

Special thanks to Professor Ian A. Bethell Bennett for being an important contributor for this article.