The island of Puerto Rico is deeply divided about the student strikes occurring at the Río Piedras campus of the University of Puerto. As new video showing a UPR English professor fighting with striking students released today can attest, it is a division that has sparked hate, violence, and political tensions. In general, those who support the strike fall into camps that promote free association or independence from Puerto Rico, while those who oppose the strikes are more likely to be island residents who support the pro-statehood movement of Governor Luis Fortuño.
Social media has played a large role for both camps, with YouTube becoming a central video channel. In doing some research for other stories, we found several videos showing events that have occurred both in the 2011 strikes and the 2010 strikes. A few of these videos take it a bit too far, quickly labeling Puerto Rican students as terrorists, criminals, and communists. In fact, this type of tactic is eerily similar to what Tea Party groups in the US do as well: if you don’t agree with someone like President Obama, scream SOCIALIST and your patriotism will shine through.
To set the record straight, even though some Puerto Rican independence movements in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s were terroristic in nature, any rational person with a brain would know that the UPR student strikers are not terrorists. As these two videos prove, the medium is the massage. Calling your own fellow Puerto Rican residents angry names of hate won’t get you that far. And what’s up with the photos of men and women in turbans? Hey, you want to yell TERRORIST in a crowd, might as well show some Arabs in the mix, since we know all Arabs are terrorists. This claim needs a little clarification: To compare the UPR students with terrorists is a slick move by the pro-statehood crowd. It is also false and shows that yes, even in a democratic state, extreme views in the end do nothing to the debate. You can disagree with the students, but calling them terrorists, criminals, and communists is a sign of disrespect, hate, and ignorance.
Yes, Governor Fortuño, if you are going to let your supporters share your ideas on the strike, you might be better off just talking to press, which by the way is something you need to do more. Making subtle references about Arab terrorists at the UPR campus is not the way to go. You are truly a member of the Tea Party. Maybe they will welcome you to join and form the Spanish version titled “Partido de té.”
PS Governor Fortuño, you still haven’t commented of what Rep. Luis Guittérrez said about you and Hugo Chávez. Or are you going to let your Partido de Té members speak for you?zaa