The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Meghan Finegan, (617) 283-8597
Ali Jost, (202) 730-7159
Mark McCullough, (202) 730-7283

Hundreds of Thousands of Puerto Rican Workers, Faith Leaders, Students and Citizens to Unite in Hato Rey on October 15

National March Will Protest Massive Cuts in Essential Public Services; Republican Administration Under Investigation for Civil Rights Violations Against High School Students


Puerto Rico struggles with a 17 percent unemployment rate, Republican
Governor Luis Fortuno is pushing forward with his plan to lay off more
than 17,000 state government employees. The Governor has
targeted government employees who provide critical public services to
children, seniors and the poor. Since the Governor announced the cuts,
thousands of workers and citizens have engaged in spontaneous acts of
civil disobedience.

hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican workers, faith leaders, students
and citizens will unite in Hato Ray to peacefully protest the planned
cuts in essential public services. Governor Fortuno has threatened to
charge citizens with "terrorism" if they take part in the planned march.

WHAT: One-Day National Strike and Peaceful Protest

WHEN: 10:00 A.M., Thursday, October 15, 2009

WHO: Labor movement and civil society organizations

WHERE: Plaza Las Americas

Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

NOTE: Groups are gathering in seven locations a mile north, east, west
and south of the main site. They will march simultaneously to the
meeting point beginning at 10:00 a.m. People from other towns will go
directly to the main site.

Here are the facts about recent events in Puerto Rico:

  • On
    September 25, the Fortuno administration announced it was cutting the
    jobs of 17,000 schoolteachers, social workers, healthcare workers and
    other public employees, effective this November 6.
  • These lay offs are in addition to the 7,800
    workers who were laid off by Governor Fortuno's administration last
    spring, bringing the total number to nearly 25,000 state government
  • In
    recent days, thousands of university students, workers, faith leaders
    and citizens have demonstrated, marched and held vigils in support of
    the working women and men who provide critical public services. Men and women have been threatened, physically attacked, and falsely arrested in some cases.
  • On
    Friday, October 9, students at a high school in Canovanas, Puerto Rico
    protested the Governor's visit to a nearby public housing project. The
    protest ended in violence when police invaded the school, arresting
    teachers and students. Reports from El Nuevo Dia and
    other outlets show students being physically attacked and arrested on
    the spot. At least two students were seriously injured and nine were
    reportedly arrested.
  • On
    Saturday, October 10, the Puerto Rican Civil Rights Commission
    announced it would investigate police in Canovanas for their actions.
  • Later the same day, the Governor threatened to charge Puerto Rican citizens with "terrorism" if they take part in the national march planned for Thursday, October 15.

Additional information on the devastating effects of cuts to critical safety net services is available.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.