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Posts Tagged ‘student strikes’


The Associated Press reported last night that a “celebrity-enhanced delegation” of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the current administration of Republican and pro-statehooder Luis Fortuño for use of police to keep the University of Puerto Rico open during a student strike over a new tuition fee.

Actress Rosie Ruiz and major league baseball player Carlos Delgado (© The Associated Press)

As the AP report states:

The delegation, which included Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez and former major league baseball player Carlos Delgado, said the initial findings of a fact-finding mission found a pattern of excessive police force over the past 18 months involving students, union leaders and journalists.

Their final report, which will be presented to the U.S. Justice Department, is expected by September.

Perez said at a news conference that she was overwhelmed by the testimony of students who said they were brutalized or sexually harassed and groped by police during a series of violent clashes over the $800 fee and budget cuts.

“I was really appalled as to how many of the adults treated many of the young people whether the young people were right or wrong,” Perez said. “Yes, there were some bad apples, there were many bad apples in the bunch, but even they have certain rights.”

Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State, Kenneth D. McClintock, who also supports statehood along with Governor Fortuño, was quick to comment about the delegation’s remarks:

Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, who met with the ACLU delegation along with other island officials, faulted the delegates for announcing their preliminary findings so quickly, saying it suggested they had reached their conclusions before they had started. He said he urged them to expand their focus to include the rights of students and teachers who wanted to go to classes despite the months of protests at island campuses.

“The rights of those thousands of students should be equally entitled to ACLU interest and protection as the rights of the hundreds who participated in the demonstrations,” he said.

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While Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño still has not commented about the remarks made by Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez that compared Fortuño’s activities to that of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, another pro-statehood student association published an open letter to Gutiérrez.

February 16th, 2011

Hon. Luis Gutierrez

2266 Rayburn House Office Building

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Gutierrez,

Today, you stood up to denounce the Government of Puerto Rico and its response to violent student protests. You also used the opportunity to address resting issues such as the Puerto Rico Bar Association and the elimination of its compulsory membership fees. You are widely regarded as a fearless champion for causes such as immigration reform, where I must admit that I stand with you. In fact, I stand with you on nearly every single controversial issue.

However, it troubles me that you insist on venturing into issues pertaining to Puerto Rico and the state of affairs there. As a member of Congress, you have consistently spoken against the people of Puerto Rico, rather than with them. You have opposed the government they elected, the political status option they prefer, and today you seemed appalled that its highest court would refuse to acknowledge a fictional right to strike.

As you spoke next to a large portrait of one of our most distinguished jurists, you spewed gross misinformation about the ongoing student protests in the University of Puerto Rico. For one, you said the right to free speech was being abridged. I would ask you to say whether the right to destroy public and private property has ever been gathered from the First Amendment. Maybe there is a United States Supreme Court ruling that protects the right to attack police officers. I am certainly not a constitutional expert, at least not yet, but I do not believe those rights are there. Neither is the student body’s right to strike in our Constitution or the U.S. Constitution. I do not believe there is a single state in the Union that acknowledges that right.

Since you are so concerned about the protection of the First Amendment, there is one U.S. Supreme Court decision that I think is very relevant to your argument. In Keller v. State Bar of California (1990), the Court voted unanimously to oppose the use of a state bar’s collected dues to finance its political and ideological activities. As far as I know, the State Bar of California is far from dismantled. Again, I fail to see how the Government of Puerto Rico acted in a way that was so anathema to the laws and rights guaranteed by our great nation.

I know you care about my Island as much as I do; that you only want what’s best for its people. Therefore, it would be negligent of me to miss this opportunity to make an all-too-familiar appeal. Stop obstructing Puerto Rico’s self-determination and allow us to vote on our political status. And if we choose statehood, please stand aside and allow us to enjoy the rights you so fiercely demanded in your speech today.

Sincerely,

Eduardo J. Soto

President

The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association

As with a previous letter we published by an anti-UPR-strike organization, we have several questions for Mr. Soto and we hope he can reach out to us to answer them. Here are just a few questions we would like to ask him:

  • Representative Gutiérrez is Puerto Rican and like most Puerto Ricans we know, he has opinions about the island. Are you implying by this letter that Rep. Gutiérrez does not have the right to freely express his opinions about Puerto Rico just because you do not agree with him?
  • The current status of The Puerto Rican Democracy Act is with the Senate, and not the House of Representatives. Even though Rep. Guitérrez did not support the act, it still passed the House. Why are you saying that Rep. Guitiérrez is obstructing Puerto Ricans’ right to self-determination? Shouldn’t you be lobbying the US Senate instead?
  • You write as if the act has already passed the Senate. Are you also aware that this Act is a non-binding resolution and Puerto Rico is still at the mercy of the US Congress, no matter what option it chooses, assuming there will even be a vote?
  • As for your claims that the UPR students do not have a right to protest and strike, the Constitution is contradictory between Amendment 1 and 2. Have you read the Constitution of the United States?
  • Have you done research about Constitutional law or do you like to draft political rhetoric to make your point?

We are here to interview you any time you like.

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