Puerto Rico: Ready for the National Strike

Puerto Rico is getting ready for the national strike on Thursday, October 15.  Since governor Luis Fortuño layed off about 17,000 government employees the first week of October, there has been tremendous mobilization from different sectors of the civil society: workers and members of trade unions, women, environmentalists, students, and professors, among others.  There have been multiple demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience to protest the economic policies that the government has assured are necessary due to the financial crisis.  In total this year, the recently elected government has laid off around 25,000 public employees.

In the last months hostility has grown between the government and different civil society groups: eviction orders in socially and economically disadvantaged communities, police brutality, and the dismantlement of community initiatives such as the Fideicomiso del Caño Martín Peña.  There have also been a string of comments from government officials considered offensive and insensitive, such as the now sadly famous “such is life,” and more recently, when the Governor’s designated Chief of Staff Marcos Rodríguez Ema compared demonstrators to terrorists.  This is the context of the national strike on Thursday.  In response to this comment, Tito Otero has posted a video of a boy playing the violin in front of the Congress.  We can hear the boy say: “I am not a terrorist.  I believe in justice for my country.”

Bloggers and twitterers are getting ready for the strike which aims to paralyze the country for one day.  In Cargas and descargas, Edwin Vázquez has covened bloggers and citizens to use Twitter and Facebook to circulate information the day of the national strike.  Already, the people at @caribnews are asking followers for hashtag suggestions, and the conversation has started under #twittericans.

Firuzeh Shokooh Valle is a Puerto Rican journalist specialized in the coverage of human rights issues, mainly violence against women and children, LGBT community issues, poverty, racism, and immigration.  This article was first published by Global Voices Online on 13 October 2009 under a Creative Commons license.

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