Violence in the Capitol of Puerto Rico
[Telemundo report (in Spanish)]
[Wapa report (in Spanish)]
Some Wikipedia background on Puerto Rico.
There are a lot of events that have led to this point. I’ll try to cover the “main” ones that connect to this one.
* During the last campaing (2008), the New Progressive Party (PNP) Governor candidate, Luis Fortuño, promised that he wasn’t going to lay off anyone from the government, except for then Popular Democratic Party (PPD) Governor Anibal Acevedo-Vila.
* One of the first laws signed by the newly elected Governor Luis Fortuño was a law authorizing the lay off of public workers. The lay off tally has rised over 30,000 workers fired.
* From April to June, the most of the campuses of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) went on strike to protest against the administration due to several policy changes that would have affected negatively the students. This strike ended on June 21.
* Since Thursday last week, the Press was kicked out of the Senate, preventing them from covering important legislation (including next fiscal year’s budget) that was about to be approved.
* Several altercations have occurred between the Senate majority and the minority, including cutting off minority senators, and preventing them from talking. Also, the President of the Senate, Thomas Rivera-Shatz threw homophobic insults to minority Senator Eduardio Bhatia, and a fight almost broke out (Some background here: calling someone pato is akin calling them gay, only harsher. It is considered an insult. “Cua cua”, or “Quack Quack” in English, is the sound made by a duck [pato]).
* This week the President of the Senate Rivera-Shatz decided to let the Press enter the Capitol to cover the session, but with heavy restrictions (for example, no cameras were allowed).
* Today, for the first time in over a year, the Senate was opened to general public. Several groups, including public workers affected by laws being approved during the end of the session and UPR students from different campuses.
And this is when all hell broke lose. The SWAT teams were mobilized early today, and stationed inside the Capitol before 1:00pm. At around 4:30pm, the Press and visitors were kicked out by force, using pepper spray, and tear gas against newspeople, visitors, and protesters. The police followed and attacked people well outside the Capitol area.