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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Board member: UPR under siege by vultures, socialists & lazy profs

Herman Cestero Aguilar, member of the University of Puerto Rico Board of Governors

By The Star Staff

University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Board of Governors member Herman Cestero Aguilar charged Thursday that UPR has fallen victim to vultures seeking a cut of the estimated $12 billion in federal reconstruction funds, socialist practices and lazy professors.

He said UPR has a debt that exceeds $300 million and an invisible debt that is estimated at between $2.2 billion and $7 billion in unpayable retirement debt. But he noted that the university is overwhelmed by what in many eyes would be a bonanza.

“It consists of a federal dowry of about $12 billion for its reconstruction. This has attracted, at all levels -- from administration, teaching, non-teaching groups, unions, politicians and the [board of governors] -- the hyenas, vultures and leeches looking for a cut of the dowry,” he said in an email. “For the few in academia, in the administration and in the [board] who are trying to protect the interests of the UPR, which is the cornerstone of our people, every day has become more difficult.”

“The laws of our society protect the criminal and the corrupt, leaving us without tools to act,” Cestero said. “They tell me: turn to public opinion. It has been done; but that opinion does not distinguish the few good potatoes that are left in the bag full of rotten ones. And when it seems that we have accomplished something, it does not progress beyond an indignation that lasts only two or three days.”

“Nobody has come to help us, nobody shakes our hand,” he added. “The rulers and the people attack us when they consider we have failed, but they wash their hands at the moment of truth. They leave us alone and with very few resources fighting a monster created by the same people and rulers.”

His remarks were made in response to a column written by former UPR President José Saldaña, who said the search for a new UPR president must be done as a process of selection and not a process of election of the “the prettiest candidate or the one that promises the most.”

Saldaña said the next UPR president will be overwhelmed by a huge debt and financial crisis and must make tough decisions to obtain more resources and cut expenses, such as eliminating academic programs that are no longer relevant.

As of press time, no one had officially applied for the position, the deadline for which is Monday, Jan. 17. The board of governors, at press time, had yet to determine whether they are going to extend the deadline.

“I think it is because no one wants to deal with a university that has a lot of fiscal problems,” Saldaña said.

Cestero, who believes the board of governors is not doing what it should do to deal with UPR’s problems, said UPR is living a reality that is worse than what the country is experiencing -- a disastrous economic situation and almost total loss of values that leads to economic and moral corruption. He said UPR is too dependent on the state and must generate its own income.

“To this we must add that since its inception it has operated as a socialist/communist system and not as a business and competitive system to survive,” he said. “[It is] totally dependent on a benefactor, and when the benefactor collapses, it succumbs with him. It is like the lion that is born in a zoo and his whole life has been fed by his guardian. The zoo collapses when you return the lion to the jungle. Helpless and starving, hyenas and vultures make a meal of him, just like hyenas and even human prey upon and besiege the UPR today.”

Cestero said socialist practices have destroyed UPR’s permanence. He said UPR has fallen victim to incompetent professors who are complacent in their jobs.

“They work and strive for five to seven years until they achieve permanence [tenure], then they vegetate [for] 25 years until they retire,” he said.

“In the meantime, incompetence overtakes them and they form packs, which include young people who aspire to inherit power. These packs protect the power of the incompetent, a phenomenon that we are seeing in our system and is very evident in [UPR’s] Carolina [campus], where it has obtained wide coverage in the media but continues to go unpunished and resistant even to kryptonite,” Cestero said, referring to STAR articles about irregular appointments made by UPR Carolina Chancellor José Meza.

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