Puerto Rico: General strike called against lay-offs

October 17, 2009
Video: Paro Nacional de Puerto Rico | Puerto Rico National Strike - Parte 1 (15-oct-2009). YouTube/statement787.

Puerto Rico, a "self-governing" colony of the United States, was rocked by a general strike on October 15. Organisers estimated that between 150,000-200,000 people took part in a massive demonstration in the capital, San Juan.

In the article below, reprinted from Global Voices, Firuzeh Shokooh Valle provides the background. Shokooh Valle is a Puerto Rican journalist specialised in human rights issues.

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno laid off about 17,000 government employees the first week of October. Since then, there has been tremendous mobilisation from workers and trade unions, women, environmentalists, students and professors, among others.

There have been multiple demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience to protest the economic policies the government insists are necessary due to the financial crisis. So far this year, the government has laid off around 25,000 public employees.

In the last months, hostility has grown between the government and different civil society groups. There have been eviction orders in socially and economically disadvantaged communities, police brutality, and the dismantlement of community initiatives.

There have also been a string of comments from government officials considered offensive and insensitive. The Chief of Staff Marcos Rodriguez Ema recently compared demonstrators to terrorists.

In response to this comment, a video was posted (see below) of a boy playing the violin in front of the Congress. The boy says: "I am not a terrorist. I believe in justice for my country."

This is the context of the October 15 general strike.

Video: Paro Nacional de Puerto Rico | Puerto Rico National Strike - Parte 2 (15-oct-2009). statement787.

Video: No nos pararán | They won't stop us. Boy playing violin out the front of Congress. Tito Otero.

More videos of the general strike can be found here.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.