Puerto Rico students renew protests over tuition rise

Students in Puerto Rico kept up protests on Wednesday against a new fee at the U.S. Caribbean territory’s main public university after a week of demonstrations that led to arrests of several protesters, Reuters reports.

The students are protesting a new $800 annual fee set to take effect in January and aimed at helping the University of Puerto Rico offset a budget deficit.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, has been mired in a deep recession since 2006 and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno has cut spending and raised taxes on multinational firms operating on the island to reduce a $3.2 billion government deficit.

Dozens of student protesters gathered outside the university’s main campus on Wednesday, chanting slogans and singing songs.

The student protests had turned violent on Monday when a group threw rocks, bottles and smoke bombs inside classrooms as police used batons to break up the demonstration. At least 17 students were arrested in the melee.

Eight of those arrested appeared before judges late on Tuesday and two were charged with weapons violations and assault against public officials. The others were charged with misdemeanors including obstruction of justice.

The new fee comes on top of existing annual tuition costs of around $1,530.

However, critics of the university protests say a majority of students qualify for annual grants totaling $5,550, enabling students to absorb the cost of the new expense.

For the original report go to http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6BL3V220101222

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