SAN JUAN, P.R.—As teachers and other workers in Puerto Rico went on strike to protest privatization May 1, police in San Juan fired tear-gas shells at student protesters in the city’s “Milla De Ora” (Golden Mile) banking district. Members of the Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico had voted to strike several weeks ago after the federal Fiscal Oversight and Management Board, which controls Puerto Rico’s finances, and the commonwealth’s government announced plans to replace a quarter of the island’s public schools with charters, double tuition at the University of Puerto Rico, and cut public-sector workers’ pensions by 25%. “It’s a colonial situation that we are facing,” union President Mercedes Martinez told In These Times. “The fiscal oversight board are the ones telling the governor what to do.” Commonwealth Education Secretary Julia Keleher also said shortly after Hurricane Maria hit last fall that Puerto Rico should use New Orleans’ school policies after Hurricane Katrina, in which public schools were privatized and union teachers axed, as a model. As the main march dispersed, a student contingent tried to push through police lines to get to the center of Milla De Ora, and police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Read more


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