Violent oppression of Puerto Rican workers, 1916

This video from the USA says about itself:

18 May 2010

Student Strike at University of Puerto Rico Enters 28th Day

In Puerto Rico, an ongoing strike by students at the University of Puerto Rico is coming to a head. Riot police have surrounded the main gates of the university’s main campus and are trying to break the strike by denying food and water to students who have occupied the campus inside. The strike began nearly four weeks ago in response to budget cuts at the university of more than $100 million.

On Thursday, a mass assembly of more than 3,000 students voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike. The next day, riot police seized control of the main campus gates. We go now to Puerto Rico, inside the occupied campus at the university.

This video is the sequel.

From the World Socialist Web Site today:

100 years ago: Mass strike of Puerto Rican sugar workers

On April 6, 1916, the Puerto Rican Free Federation of Laborers, affiliated to the American Federation of Labor, issued an appeal to workers in the US and internationally calling for support for striking agricultural workers. It denounced the “reign of industrial tyranny and oppression [which] is governing supreme over life and labor.”

Under conditions in which sugar was selling at record high prices, the federation declared a general strike in the sugar-producing region of Puerto Rico, demanding wages of $1 for an eight-hour day. More than 20,000 agricultural workers had been on strike since January for better conditions, wages and the eight-hour day. Police and local magistrates collaborated with the major sugar trusts against the workers.

In the town of Juana Diaz, police fired on strikers and other townspeople without provocation. One was killed instantly while two more died in the hospital. Four women, two boys and 10 men were wounded. In the town of Rio Grande, police fired upon, clubbed, and cut strikers.

Police also opened fire on and clubbed striking workers in Loiza, “killing one like a dog,” according to the reports. Several others were wounded. In Arecibo, police killed one striker, wounded many more and made numerous arrests. Peaceful parades of women were also broken up with gunfire. In Bayamon police fired on the assembly hall of the AFL. The workers’ appeal stated that “clubs and bullets are used freely to frighten poor laborers in the country.”

At the same time it was reported that industry and commerce were booming in Puerto Rico, with net earnings of $80 million from the beginning of US colonial rule in 1898 to 1916. Property values tripled over the same period. The workers’ appeal also denounced the lack of schools for 250,000 children on the island, due to budget and tax cuts.

2 thoughts on “Violent oppression of Puerto Rican workers, 1916

  1. Pingback: Puerto Rico anti-austerity news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Puerto Rico and disaster profiteers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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