As reported by El Nuevo Día, former Puerto Rican Governor Carlos Romero Barceló had a few strong words for the student protesters who interrupted a ceremony of the island’s former governors inside Puerto Rico’s Capitol building in San Juan today.
“It is revolting to see those who don’t want to study,” said Romero Barceló in Spanish. “The worst crime you can commit in a democratic state is when you try to impose your own personal agenda.”
According to El Nuevo Día, the incident with the students occurred when Jenniffer González, the Speaker of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives, was about to begin her remarks honoring the island’s ex-governors in the Capitol’s Rotunda area, where the original copies of Puerto Rico’s Constitution (ratified in 1952) are housed.
The students began to read a message opposing the decision by the University of Puerto Rico’s administration to raise annual tuition by $800. The 15 protesters were taken forcefully out of the building by Puerto Rican police and Capitol security guards. The Puerto Rican website A Primera Hora reported that the protesters entered the Capitol building dressed professionally to gain access. Once they were taken outside the building, they began to talk with the press. The report identified student Jesús Veléz as the spokesperson for the group.
Many of the island’s ex-governors were at the ceremony, including Rafael Hernández Colón, Pedro Rosselló, and Romero Barceló. Both Rosselló and Romero Barceló are members of the island’s New Progressive Party, which supports the push for Puerto Rican statehood. Hernández Colón is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the island’s current commonwealth status, although new voices in the party are pushing for free association if ever The Puerto Rico Democracy Act passes through the US Congress.
The biggest absence at the ceremony was current Puerto Rican Governor, pro-statehooder, and registered Republican Luis Fortuño.
This Capitol protest in San Juan is a stark contrast to events in Madison, Wisconsin, where pro-labor supporters were allowed to remain in Wisconsin’s State Capitol building and were not forced out by police. Also, the protestors in Madison number in the thousands, while only 15 protestors showed up in San Juan today.