The Miami Herald
July 10, 1998
Puerto Rico survives general strike

             From Herald Wire Services

             SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico returned to normal Thursday after a
             48-hour general strike to protest the privatization of the island's telephone
             company, but a 3-week-old walkout by the telephone company's 6,400 workers

             The two-day shutdown in support of the phone workers brought most public
             activity to a halt across the island.

             The phone strike has been marred by scattered incidents of violence, and police
             arrested five people accused of planting homemade bombs Thursday at the
             headquarters of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co.

             Three adults and two 15-year-olds were found at dawn with bombs made of acid,
             metal, keys and shards of glass at the company's suburban Guaynabo offices,
             Police Col. Adalberto Mercado said.

             Police at the scene became suspicious after one of the suspects threw a bomb that
             exploded in an abandoned house, apparently to test it, he said.

             Police identified the three adults arrested as Alex Noel Ramos Vazquez, 21;
             Heriberto Olivera Vargas, 21; and Luis A. Morales Andaluz, 20.

             Meanwhile, labor leaders met to discuss their next step.

             Annie Cruz, leader of the Independent Brotherhood of Telephone Employees, said
             the union is considering a change of tactics that could include periodic one-day
             walkouts of workers across the island.

             ``We won't go [back to work]. Not after what happened here,'' said Aida L.
             Rivera Marrero, a union delegate in an office park where riot police clubbed
             protesters three weeks ago.

             The strikers failed to budge Gov. Pedro Rossello, who has refused to hold a
             referendum on the $1.9 billion sale of Puerto Rico Telephone Co. to a consortium
             led by GTE Corp. of Stamford, Conn.

             Union leaders accuse the governor of ``selling the national patrimony'' as part of
             his campaign to make the island the 51st state of the union. Statehood supporters
             say the strike is aimed at presenting Puerto Rico as unstable and dissuading foreign
             investment in Rossello's ambitious privatization plans.

             GTE intends to go ahead with the acquisition, spokeswoman Sharon
             Cohen-Hagar said Wednesday.