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Slew Of Organizations Denounce Civil Right Violations of Puerto Ricans on May Day and Demand Gov. Roselló To Stop Austerity Measures

Sign-On Letter Condemning the Actions of the Puerto Rican Government on May Day and Demanding Justice for the Puerto Rican People


New York, NY - In response to the violent reaction of the Puerto Rico Police Department to a peaceful assembly of students, families and activists on May Day protesting against austerity measures and the national debt, the Center for Popular Democracy signed on to an open letter to Governor Roselló and released the following statement through its Co-Executive Director, Ana María Archila, who was present at the event and recorded the state violence response in a video:

“This week, as teachers, students, and retirees in Puerto Rico were exercising their First Amendment rights with a peaceful march to demand dignity for their families, the police came out in riot gear and unleashed tear gas on the crowd. Children, elderly people, entire families were fighting to catch their breath. It was a scene that doesn’t belong in a democratic society.

But this scene is not new in Puerto Rico. The police are used to controlling and enforcing colonial rule on the island. And they are enabled by our silence stateside. The crisis confronting Puerto Rico is enormous, and it’s as much a crisis of democracy as it is an economic and climate crisis.

Governor Roselló must condemn the violence perpetrated against his own people. And he must address the root causes of the march: the austerity measures that prioritize banks over people and are putting the brakes on the island’s recovery. We will continue to stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people as they continue to demand dignity and a better life for themselves and their families.”

Below, the Center for Popular Democracy join several organizations in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and sign on this open letter to Governor Ricardo Roselló demanding an investigation into the abuses perpetrated by the Police Department on May Day rally and demand a stop to austerity measures and cancellation of the debt:

Open Letter to the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Roselló

Sign-On Letter Condemning the Actions of the Puerto Rican Government on May Day and Demanding Justice for the Puerto Rican People

We, the undersigned organizations, stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and organizations that came together on May 1, 2018 to march against inhumane austerity measures that continue to drive a massive exodus of families in search of a better life. We stand with the millions of Puerto Ricans who remain on the island and fight every day to sustain their families and improve their collective quality of life. We write today to condemn the inhumane and violent police actions of the government of Ricardo Rosselló.

On May 1, 2018, thousands of Puerto Rican people, including elderly adults and children, who were exercising their First Amendment right to protest were met with state violence through the use of tear gas and violence at the hands of the police. Images captured at the event, corroborated by first-hand accounts, show crowds of people fighting to catch their breath as they ran away from police in riot gear. This type of scene has no place in a democratic society. The right to assemble and express frustration at the government is essential to the practice of democracy. We are deeply disturbed by Governor Roselló’s defense of the police brutality and demand that the local government take the appropriate actions to prosecute those who gave and executed the orders for these actions to take place.

On May 1, 2018, thousands of Puerto Ricans came out to protest the measures that the governor and the fiscal control board have put forward over the last two years. These measures adversely affect working class Puerto Ricans, and include:

1. Privatizing of the public school system and the power company;

2. Doubling the tuition costs in Puerto Rico's public university;

3. Closing over 300 schools;

4. Slashing labor rights;

5. Raising taxes; and

6. Cutting pensions.

This dire situation is forcing families to flee the island en masse. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies estimates that Puerto Rico could lose 14% of its population, 470,000 people, by 2019.

On May Day, the people of Puerto Rico came out with clear demands for their government. Today we stand with them and echo their demands in solidarity, and we commit to advocate for them in the United States.

We further demand immediate accountability for the May Day violence. Our demands are as follows:

1. Stop austerity: The Government of Puerto Rico should stop all austerity measures and invest in the working people of Puerto Rico by strengthening labor rights, raising the minimum wage, and promoting other policies that allow families in the island to live with dignity. Living with dignity includes rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid with 100% clean and renewable energy and keeping the power grid and power generation in public hands under community control, so as to mitigate the climate crisis and adapt for future extreme weather.

2. Cancel the debt: The Government of Puerto Rico should not make, and the U.S. government should stop promoting, any more debt payments to billionaire bondholders. Instead, all government efforts should focus on securing payments to pension holders. The Puerto Rican government should also prosecute any individual that has profited from the debt crisis.

3. Prosecute: The Government of Puerto Rico should conduct a full, transparent and impartial investigation into the police violence during the May Day actions and prosecute every police officer and civil servant who instructed and executed these acts of violence against the Puerto Rican people. We also encourage human right organizations to conduct their own independent investigations and oversight to guarantee that this process is done with full transparency.

We, the undersigned organizations, stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and their demands, condemn the actions of the Puerto Rican government, and demand that the local government take the appropriate actions to prosecute those who instructed and executed these actions.


United for a New Economy
Maryland Communities United
Black Voters Matter Fund
CT PR Agenda
Progressive Caucus Action Fund
The Bully Project
Center for Popular Democracy
Make the Road PA
Make the Road CT
215 People Alliance
Alliance for Puerto Rico-Massachusetts
Make the Road NJ
United We DREAM
Chicago Boricua Resistance!
OLÉ in Albuquerque, NM
Organize Florida
Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement
Mi Familia Vota
Make the Road NY
Matt Nelson
Action Center for Race and the Economy
Refund America Proyect
Massachusets Jobs with Justice
DiaspoRicans DiaspoRiqueños
New Haven Association of Legal Services Attorneys
United Action CT
Womens March
Alliance for Quality Education
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
Courage Campaign
Action NC
Harry Potter Alliance
Blue Future
Youth Progressive Action Catalyst
Pennsylvania Student Power Network
Movement Voter Project
Student Power Networks
About Face: Veterans Against the War
Americas for Conservation
Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition- FLIC
One America
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
Arkansas United Community Coalition
Make the Road NV
Sunrise Movement
Lil Sis
American Family Voices
Resource Generation
Climate Hawks Vote
The Shalom Center
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance
Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Korean Resource Center (KRC)
HANA Center
NAKASEC - Virginia
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN)
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)