The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Puerto Rico:
Government Workers Strike against Layoffs

Nov 23, 2009

This article is translated from issue #1016 of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the paper of the revolutionary group of that name active in Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rican government workers went on strike on October 15. Many tens of thousands demonstrated in the streets. They were protesting the massive layoffs carried out by the government, adding up to 25,000 this year. The pretext for these layoffs was the same as used by governments everywhere: a budget deficit, in this case, of the “Associated Free State” tied to the U.S.

The government workers’ unions decided that if there were new layoffs they’d start an unlimited general strike. The government clearly heard the protest in the streets, because there was a big mobilization. People could see workers, women, students and professors and many ordinary citizens vigorously protesting. On the eve of the monster demonstration, a group of people chained themselves to the mansion of Luis Fortuño, the governor. Women’s groups denounced the layoffs. The power of the movement shook the government and let the government workers regain confidence in their forces.