Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Witnessed Violent Clashes With Protesters And Police During May Day Demonstrations

Thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets on Tuesday to protest pension cuts, school closures and slow recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. The May Day marches started off peacefully as students, teachers and government employees made their way through San Juan before things turned violent. Heavily armored police threw tear gas cans and rubber bullets at protesters as demonstrations crossed through blocked off areas.

At least eight people were arrested and a number of people were injured, including fifteen police officers during May Day demonstrations in Puerto Rico.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said police were left with minimal options but to act after a small group of agitators threw rocks and bottles at them. Most followed the planned protest route without incident, and the march ended with a rally in front of the Capitol in San Juan. Many on the island are frustrated with the sluggish hurricane recovery efforts and steep budget cuts to tackle the island’s financial crisis.

The march comes as Puerto Rico continues to recover from an 11-year recession.

Puerto Rico is dealing with a $75 billion dollar debt. In response to the debt, the government is finding ways to save money to curb the debt and it includes increasing costs on the middle and lower class. College students in Puerto Rico have been hit the hardest. At Puerto Rico’s largest public university the undergraduate cost per credit has increased from $57 to $115, then to an eventual $157 over five years, according to The Washington Post. Many students in Puerto Rico have yet to return to school due the Hurricane Maria, which hit the island more than six months ago.

Children joined the protesters to fight for their schools to remain open but were tear gassed by police.

Puerto Rico is set to close 280 schools in August due to sharp decreases in enrollment, which comes after 179 were closed last year. In November 2017, NYU announced that it would be offering admission to 50 students from Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria under the Hurricane Maria Assistance Program.

Cuts to pensions and other benefits have left Puerto Ricans with few options.

Similar protests took place last May Day which also ended in violence in the streets and civilian injuries. Many businesses this year were prepared as they boarded up shops in anticipation that protests may end similarly to last year.


READ: Here Are 11 Reasons People Protested For Immigrant Rights On May Day In Los Angeles

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At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

Things That Matter

At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

A massive protest movement that swept across Colombia seems to have paid off – at least in the short term – as President Ivan Duque says that he will withdrawal the controversial tax plan that sent angry protesters into the streets. However, the protests claimed at least 17 victims who died during the unrest and hundreds more were injured.

Now that the president has withdrawn the controverial bill, many are wondering what’s next and will they have to take to the streets once again.

Massive protests claimed the lives of at least 17 people and hundreds more were injured across Colombia.

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw a controversial tax plan that they say unfairly targets the most vulnerable Colombians.

Isolated vandalism, clashes between police and protesters and road blockades occurred in several cities on Saturday, and riot police were deployed in the capital.

Rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rights groups alleged up to 17 deaths occurred.

After a week of protests, the government has shelved the controversial plan.

Faced with the unrest, the government of President Ivan Duque on Sunday ordered the proposal be withdrawn from Congress where it was being debated. In a televised statement, he said his government would work to produce new proposals and seek consensus with other parties and organizations.

President Duque, in his statement, acknowledged “it is a moment for the protection of the most vulnerable, an invitation to build and not to hate and destroy”.

“It is a moment for all of us to work together without paltriness,” he added. “A path of consensus, of clear perceptions. And it gives us the opportunity to say clearly that there will be no increase in VAT for goods and services.”

The tax reform had been heavily criticized for punishing the middle classes at a time of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The government introduced the bill on April 15 as a means of financing public spending. The aim was to generate $6.3 billion between 2022 and 2031 to reignite the fourth largest economy in Latin America.

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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

As the Puerto Rican government is debating a bill on conversion therapy, Kany García is speaking out against the controversial practice. The Boricua singer-songwriter wrote an open letter to the senators in favor of Senate Bill 184, which would help end conversion therapy on the island.

Kany is one of Puerto Rico’s most-decorated artists.

García is one of the Puerto Rico’s top artists. She’s won six Latin Grammy out of a career 20 nominations. In March, she was also nominated for her third Grammy Award for her latest album Mesa Para Dos.

This year Kany celebrated five years since coming out.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, García revealed that she was in a relationship with her partner, Jocelyn Troche. The couple is still going strong with Troche appearing in last year’s “Lo Que En Ti Veo.” She and García share beautiful moments in the video. At November’s Latin Grammy Awards, there was a big wave of artists in the LGBTQ+ community in the major categories, including García, Ricky Martin, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy’s Joy Huerta.

She’s telling Puerto Rican senators to pass Senate Bill 184 in her letter.

Since coming out, García has remained at the forefront of queer issues in Puerto Rico. The passage of Senate Bill 184 seeks to prohibit conversion therapy. The controversial practice has long harmed LGBTQ+ communities. It’s thought of as a way to rid them of their queer gender or sexual identities.

“Puerto Rico deserves that every girl and boy, every young woman and young man can be who they want to be and love who they want to love,” García wrote in her letter. “This measure has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the protection of Puerto Rican children and youth.”

García speaks from her own experience. “I am an example of how to be faithful to who you are. I am a woman who deeply loves her partner and who is loved by her family and by our people. There is nothing to change. There is nothing to repair. There’s nothing to heal. We have to give the same opportunity that I have had, to be who I am, to all our children and youth.”

García further writes that the bill should be passed as-is without any amendments. According to Al Día news, Popular Democratic Party Senators Gretchen Hau, Elizabeth Rosa Velez, and Migdalia Gonzalez have filed several amendments to Senate Bill 184 as of Wednesday. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi has indicated that he’s ready to override the senators if necessary.

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