SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A strike that has shuttered Puerto Rico’s largest public university for more than a month will continue indefinitely in defiance of a court order, students decided Wednesday.
Thousands of students approved extending the strike at a mass meeting where they also demanded an audit of Puerto Rico’s $73 billion public debt and the resignation of the interim president of the University of Puerto Rico amid looming budget cuts.
The students are in part upset that the interim president is supporting a modified version of cuts being forced on the school due to the U.S. territory’s economic crisis. A federal control board overseeing the finances of Puerto Rico’s government has proposed $450 million in cuts for the school, although Gov. Ricardo Rossello has proposed that the cuts be reduced to $241 million. That issue has not been resolved.
The previous president of the University of Puerto Rico was among several top-level officials who resigned in February to protest the cuts. The university already faced more than $300 million in cuts in recent years.
An appeals court has ordered the university to reopen early Thursday following a lawsuit filed by students seeking to resume their studies. University officials have warned that a court could impose penalties on all those involved if the students do not reopen the university’s gates.