Puerto Rico university president faces jail amid strike

AP News
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Posted: May 22, 2017 3:31 PM
Puerto Rico university president faces jail amid strike

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A judge on Monday threatened to arrest the president of Puerto Rico's largest public university if she doesn't reopen the institution, which has remained closed for nearly two months amid a student strike.

The judge gave Nivia Fernandez until Tuesday afternoon to open the gates to the University of Puerto Rico. Students have blocked the entrance since the end of March to protest $450 million in budget cuts sought by a federal control board overseeing the island's finances. Gov. Ricardo Rossello has proposed the cuts be reduced to $241 million, but the issue has not been resolved.

Monday's ruling follows a court order that officials reopen the university on May 11. Students voted earlier this month to indefinitely extend the strike.

Fernandez did not speak to reporters following Monday's hearing. She had earlier asked police and justice department officials to intervene, but they have refused, and the judge said more steps are needed to open the institution.

The proposed cuts prompted the university's previous president and other top-level officials to resign in February to protest.

The University of Puerto Rico has 11 campuses and more than 50,000 students. The system already has seen nearly $350 million in cuts in recent years, and professors have been denied sabbaticals and salary increases.