The University of PR students resumed classes after a long struggle and after University authorities, Fiscal Board and the Governor agreed to hear their complaints and proposals. At the end and as expected, the President of the University, Nivia Fernández resigned from her post along with other officials from the administration of the University after failing to comply with the Court of appeals mandate. Thereafter, the San Juan Court imposed a daily fine of $5,000 and $1,000 for as long as the gates of the University remained close. After long talks and negotiations some concessions were agreed upon by the authorities that led most students to agree to open the gates of the University which remained close since March 28 of this year.
Notwithstanding, the central message of this article is simply to extend thanks to all students who had the strength to sustain their position and confront the Fiscal Board without reservations. They did not hesitate to face up to the Fiscal Board considering the threats and unfair demands for cuts to that institution’s budget of more than $450 billion, request to audit the public debt of 70 million and some University reforms. Those students truly represented the voices and the outcry of the people at large who are simply too tired from so much oppression. Meanwhile the students continued to struggle to defend their rights and the future and heritage of such great institution as the University of PR. Those people who did not join students remained silent simply because most of our people are still not clear nor do they understand the process by which the Fiscal Board have been imposed upon us.
Although many of us condemned the violence that unleashed at a certain time, it is important to make clear that when extreme resistance between opposing sides ensues, tensions and frustrations escalate to a level that is often very difficult to manage. Violence is often precipitated by one of the resisting parties in the absence of effective dialogue and mediation that lead to finding common ground and acceptable terms for both groups. In the end, it is important to figure out how much each side contributed to reaching the extreme outcome of violence without blindly attributing responsibility to any given side simply out of arrogance or ignorance. There is a sharp reality before us that we must know and understand: the students of the University of PR represent a cadre of real emerging leadership in our country. They simply represent our youth for whom all of us must help pave the way so that they can take the baton from us to move forward.
Further, we must be grateful for the students efforts and owe them respect as we need brave leaders not “enangotados.” We need leaders who will continue to defend our history, our heritage, our culture, our language and our precious institutions. I know and trust that the students will always be at the forefront fighting not only their issues but the causes of our people while enhancing their horizons with knowledge and wisdom. Thanks to all the students of the University of PR. I extend an invitation for support and solidarity with our leaders of the moment and of the future!