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Monday, May 1, 2017

Puerto Rico News Digest For May 1, 2017



Photo by @Tatymailine

As part of the massive general strike which was called for May 1st, scores of citizens took to to the streets across Puerto Rico today -- mainly in the San Juan metro area -- to protest the brutal austerity measures sought by the Financial Control Board and the administration of Governor Rossello, as they deal with the island's debt crisis. Labor, academic, religious, feminist, student and other groups took part in the demonstrations, which took place at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, La Fortaleza in Old San Juan, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and other locations. At the latter, protesters blocked the entrance to the airport early this morning. Several of the marches around San Juan converged around noon at Hato Rey's "Milla de Oro" financial district, where some protests turned violent. Many protesters converged in front of the Seaborne Building, where the Financial Control Board is based. Several buildings in the area were vandalized, with Banco Popular's building taking the brunt of it, as protesters threw rocks, broke glass and had confrontations with building security staff. Police dispersed protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Photo by @carlaamarie

Later in the afternoon, Plaza Las Americas closed the mall's parking facilities as a safety measure. On nearby Roosevelt Avenue, protesters blocked the road with large stones and other debris, while on Muñoz Rivera Avenue, someone started a small fire in a lane of traffic. Some individuals on Muñoz Rivera refused to vacate the roadway despite the Police's barrage of gas and rubber bullets. SWAT teams, along with regular Police, had been deployed all over the area throughout the day. Various businesses in Hato Rey, including a CVS pharmacy, shut down due to the situation. Some of them were vandalized with graffiti or had their windows broken. Rocks were also thrown through the windows of the old headquarters of the New Progressive Party. Close to 5 PM, Police were able to retake Muñoz Rivera Avenue, after several arrests were made. At around this time, Governor Rossello took part in a press conference at La Fortaleza, in which he condemned the "violent incidents".

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