Photo: Teacher protest (Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico)
Dozens of teachers took part in a protest at Plaza Las Americas, Puerto Rico’s largest mall, against planned pension system reforms.
Saturday’s protest was organized Broad Front for the Defense of the Teachers Retirement System, or FADSRM, which is calling on Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s administration to scrap Law 160.
The group contends that the legislation is “unnecessary” and will “destroy public education.”
Puerto Rico’s unfunded educational pension system was recently overhauled by the government in response to demands from credit rating agencies, which saw the hole in the retirement system as a threat to the island’s finances.
FADSRM said the law “impoverishes educators, forcing them into dependence and bankruptcy.”
Teachers affected by the reforms will end up with salaries that are $500 lower than those of police officers and pension benefits that will fall by $400 to $1,000 monthly, FADSRM said.
Law 160 “forces more than 10,000 teachers to retire or resign” and “opens the door to the privatization of the school system,” the organization said.
The government, for its part, said the teachers retirement system would have run out of money by 2020 if no changes were made and had been running deficits since 2010.
Teachers have staged numerous protests, including a 48-hour strike, against the educational system overhaul.
The law, among other changes, raises the minimum retirement age from 55 to 62 effective Aug. 31, 2014.