Unions to lead May Day march on La Fortaleza
By John McPhaul
Spokespersons for several unions and student organizations announced Wednesday that on Sunday, May 1, International Workers’ Day, they will meet at Plaza Colón in Old San Juan at 1 p.m. to march to La Fortaleza.
“The central themes of the activity will be health, [and making] public and university education accessible to the working class in Puerto Rico,” said Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU by its Spanish acronym) President Ángel Rodríguez Rivera at a press conference.
“This first of May, we will be public and private sector unions together with all the social sectors of our country defending our rights in the street against the neoliberal capitalist offensive that has been drowning us for years,” added Janell Santana, president of the Brotherhood of Non-Teaching Exempt Employees of the University of Puerto Rico. “We know that the government is not and will never be a spokesperson for the claims, concerns and demands of the dispossessed, poor, workers and oppressed sectors in our society. Only the people represent the village. That is why on Sunday we ask all of Puerto Rico to meet at 1 p.m. in Old San Juan. That day we will raise our voices in opposition to the economic, political and social exploitation that all people in Puerto Rico suffer.”
“Our public health system was fragmented, passing part of it into private hands, turning the physical and emotional well being of the population of Puerto Rico into merchandise at the mercy of the interests of private capital accumulation,” Santana said. “The poorly termed health reform failed when insurance companies appropriated the provision of health services in Puerto Rico because they are only interested in their corporate profit. In that process, health workers in Puerto Rico suffer attacks from employers that take away the rights of the working people of Puerto Rico assuring a continuous deterioration of their collective health. It is time to implement a Universal Health Plan in Puerto Rico. We will make that demand on the first of May.”
Meanwhile, EDUCAMOS President Migdalia Santiago said that in addition to the demand for accessible healthcare for the working class and poor, the protesters demand a quality public education and an accessible university education.
“Public education in Puerto Rico has been under continuous threat,” Santiago said. “The working conditions to which we teachers in Puerto Rico are subjected endanger education as a right of Puerto Rican children. To the extent that our working conditions are not met and education is not seen as a fundamental axis of the economic development of the country, subjecting it to the logic of the market, we condemn our children and our entire country to collective ignorance.”