There has been a student strike going on in Puerto Rico for the last fifty days or so. It is a amazing strike with an articulate center core of demands. Here is a video on the demands of the students.
Into this strike the Governor of Puerto Rico asked the Episcopal Bishop of Puerto Rico, David Alvarez, to enter as a mediator. His mediation reportedly was rejected by the students coordinating the strike and the Governor is now asking for a student referendum on the strike. See this full report in the Puerto Rico Daily Sun.
Bishop Alvarez apparently came back to the President with no mediation action in hand and the President in turn called for a student referendum. Alvarez agreed that further efforts at mediation seemed futile and that a referendum seemed in order.
It is not often that a bishop of The Episcopal Church is called on to provide such assistance in the midst of a crisis like this, but Bishop Alvarez holds a place of considerable respect in Puerto Rico and The Episcopal Church, which has a particularly strong record in social service ministries, is known to be vitally concerned with the life of the whole community.
The strike is hugely important in Puerto Rico where the 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, a public institution, constitute the most important educational institution in the country. The situation is complex and the student strike not likely to end soon.
Your prayers for Bishop Alvarez, for the students, faculty and teachers of the University, and for the people and leaders of Puerto Rico. Student strikes are often a precursor to wider dissatisfactions and are therefore carefully watched. Let us also be watchful.
I studied at UPR a bit while at the Seminary of the Caribbean and I look at the video of the students with some pride in being, at least on some small level, a companion to them. I worked with Bishop Alvarez while there in Puerto Rico and serve with him on Executive Council. I have the same pride in being, on some small level, his companion as well.
We eat with many who we love and cherish, and wonder when we will all gather together again.