Last night, just before midnight, riot police occupied the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras. Students protesting a major tuition increase had ended a 48-hour strike shortly before. According to one source liveblogging events as they occur [Original|Translation], police “seized control” of the university early this morning. Ten of the university’s eleven campuses were shuttered for two months earlier this year by a student strike.
The university administration has thrown in the towel regarding the possibility of achieving a mediated solution to the conflict. … For decades, there has been a consensus in the country, which no one had questioned, that the police have no place on college campuses. … The administration can not have forgotten the tragic history of police interventions in the UPR and deaths sequel – yes, death – and historical traumas. … There will be very little that the police can provide in terms of order.
Order in the UPR means that every student, teacher and employee can enjoy quiet, take or give their classes, walk around campus, have quiet lunch in the cafeteria or under a tree, live fully the magical college life. There is no way to imagine how, through police presence and pressure, this can be achieved. The only way to achieve that is through dialogue. And that now seems further away than ever.
Early this morning UPR’s president released a statement declaring that “the police have restored order and security in the Rio Piedras Campus and will remain present in this hall for the time necessary to ensure that this is true.”
University administrators plan to open the campus for classes at noon (that’s 11 am Eastern Time, about half an hour from now). Faculty will be meeting today to discuss the police presence and their response, and student strategizing is ongoing.