Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taking it to the Streets

This past Thursday, Oct. 15th, one of the largest demonstrations in the history of Puerto Rico took place in several different parts of San Juan, in response to Gov. Luis Fortuño's decision to lay-off nearly 20,000 government employees. An estimated 200,000-300,000 demonstrators took to the streets. Plaza Las Americas, the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, decided to close for a day because of the decision of union leaders to hold demonstrations directly in front of their premises. Many businesses and schools were also closed, and hundreds (if not thousands) of commuters were also affected.

BBC Mundo (the Spanish version of BBC News) published an article, "Puertoriqueños contra despidos masivos" ("Puerto Ricans against massive lay-offs") about the demonstrations. Being a small island, Puerto Rico seldom receives attention from the international media. However, the events from this past Thursday proved to be an exception. For the past few years, Puerto Rico has seen its economy declining and its deficit increasing. Despite the resounding public outcry over the lay-offs, Gov. Fortuño stands firmly behind his decision. Perhaps he had no other choice but to do so, especially when he's trying to improve the island's credit rating. However, laying-off nearly 17,000 people in one shot was probably too much for most Puerto Ricans to take. According to a recent poll, the governor's approval rating is at a mere 30%.

FYI: The image above was the front-page cover of the island's major newspaper. It shows the thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of Plaza Las Amercias. "Consumado" means "consumed." (Image obtained from

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