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Puerto Rican teachers pepper sprayed protesting school closings

Preparations underway for strike on May 1
By Brad Sigal |
April 30, 2018
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Teachers rally in preparation for May 1 strike in Puerto Rico.
Teachers rally in preparation for May 1 strike in Puerto Rico. (Photo from Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico facebook page)

San Juan, Puerto Rico - On April 27, police pepper sprayed teachers in a protest led by the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation (FMPR) outside the Department of Education. The teachers were protesting the government’s plan to close hundreds of public schools as part of a massive ‘education reform’ plan to privatize public education.

FMPR President Mercedes Martinez said, “It was abusive, an unnecessary abuse of power against unarmed teachers that were peacefully protesting against the government’s outrages,” and that “they used pepper spray disproportionately, they sprayed pepper spray like it was a joke, it was a shame what happened today.”

The Puerto Rican Teachers Federation, along with the Broad Front in Defense of Public Education (FADEP) is not letting the police attack stop their organizing to defend public education. They announced that there will not be classes in Puerto Rico’s schools on May 1, International Workers Day, because teachers are going on strike. Teachers and school communities across Puerto Rico will converge in San Juan to march from the Department of Education to the ‘Milla de Oro’.

In a statement, the FADEP said, “May 1 is a day in which teachers, mothers, fathers, students and diverse sectors of civil society will unite in one voice to demand that they stop the closing and privatization of schools,” “On May 1 we’ll have an overwhelming expression to stop school closings and to demand that Education Secretary Julia Keleher resign and we can get back on the path of a true transformation of the education system.”

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