Saturday, February 12, 2011

Power to the People

The entire world watched, riveted, by the events taking place in Egypt, a country in turmoil since January 25th. Ever since then, thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand for the country's President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years, to step down. As the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof sums it up in his Op-Ed piece, "We are all Egyptians." Perhaps one of the most remarkable outcomes of this revolution is the ability of the masses to use social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to unite and create a formidable force, which eventually resulted in Mubarak's downfall.

Coincidentally, although in completely different circumstances, the former Egyptian despot was not the only one to "resign" yesterday. Joining Mubarak was José Ramón de la Torre, now the former President of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). This came as no surprise, since de la Torre was widely considered to be inept and has not resolved many of the problems facing the university. De la Torre served as President for just a little over a year. Interestingly, while demonstrations in Egypt have now ended with fireworks, students at UPR are still protesting against the $800 fee. This latest round of protests began in November, but problems within UPR have persisted for quite some time now.

Unfortunately, the situation at the island's most prominent university has only gotten worse as clashes between the police and students have turned uglier. One strong commonality between the demonstrations which took place in Egypt, and the ones still going underway in UPR, is the role in which social networks have come to play in gathering support and mobilizing forces in reaching a common goal. In the case of Egypt, it was the Facebook page "We are all Khaled Said"
which helped drive people to the streets. At the university, the "UPR Sin Cuota y Sin Policia" page is one of several created to publicize their cause. As Egypt awakens to the post-Mubarak era and begins to move forward in rebuilding its country, those in UPR seem to stuck in the same tenuous situation as the demonstrations continue.

(The photo above was obtained from It was taken during today's march, "Yo Amo La UPR.")

No comments: