• The San Juan Daily Star

UPR takes issue with federal ag funding going to Ana G. Méndez U.

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón

By John McPhaul

In an open letter, members of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) community called the recently announced allocation of $275,000 in federal funds to Ana G. Méndez University for the promotion of agriculture a “betrayal.”

“This fact represents a betrayal for the University of Puerto Rico (UPR),” said Ángel R. Ocasio Gracia, acting secretary general of the National Student Confederation in the letter released Tuesday and also signed by the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors and the Brotherhood of Non-Teaching Exempt Employees. “The UPR in Utuado offers the only educational project on sustainable agriculture in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In turn, the Mayagüez University Campus offers various agri-environmental science programs. Both contribute immensely to the development of the agriculture industry.”

“Regardless of the contribution to the country that these and other campuses make, the UPR has been cut and the budget given to the impositions of the Fiscal Control Board continues to be cut,” he added. “These cuts mean that the campuses are limited in the areas of investigation, promotion and development of agriculture.”

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, who announced the allocation, had not returned a request for comment as of press time.

Ocasio Gracia also urged the chancellors of UPR Utuado, Dr. Luis Tapia Maldonado and of Mayagüez, Dr. Agustín Rullán Toro, to make public statements.

“What happened cannot go unnoticed. We need government officials to defend public and accessible education in their country at all costs; and that they respond to the interests of the people and not those of the private sector,” he said. “It is convenient for the [resident] Commissioner to say at election time that she will defend the UPR at all costs and that she will seek funds for it. However, in practice she proves otherwise. With actions like this, she reveals that she is against the only public university in the country. They threaten the stability, sustainability and existence of all the [UPR] venues.”

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