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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 02:51 GMT 03:51 UK
Unions halt Puerto Rico protests
Protest in Puerto Rico last month
Anger has been growing over the financial crisis
Puerto Rican trade unions have called off protests against the government's financial record as they await the findings of a newly-formed commission.

The commission is poised to issue a set of recommendations on how to resolve a $740m (406m) budget deficit.

Puerto Rico's financial shortfall has led to the closure of schools and many government agencies, sparking protests.

Its governor and other political leaders have agreed to accept the commission's findings.

The commission's report will come out on Wednesday after a breakthrough brokered by the Archbishop of San Juan. He met the US territory's governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, and other political leaders on Monday.

The governor had been arguing with the opposition-led lower house over how to resolve the crisis.

Politicians have failed to agree for weeks on a formula for financing an emergency loan.

The crisis led international credit rating agency Moody's to downgrade Puerto Rico's bonds.

Moody's gave some of the bonds junk status while some were downgraded to just one notch above.

Demonstrations

About 150 protesting teachers blocked traffic on Tuesday at a port in San Juan where cruise ships dock.

However, trade unions that represent the majority of the island's public sector workers said they would suspend protests.

"We believe the committee created last night should work in peace," the union leaders said on Tuesday.

A larger protest planned for Thursday has yet to be called off.

Last week, the administration was forced to close 43 government agencies putting 95,000 people out of work. All schools were closed, meaning half a million students were sent home.

Mass demonstrations have been taking place on the streets of the capital, San Juan, but it is in the island's smaller towns that the effects are being felt.

Many people rely heavily on municipal services and are now having to do without basic amenities like water and health care services.

The government is the biggest employer in Puerto Rico, accounting for up to 200,000 jobs. It pays about $500m in salaries.




SEE ALSO:
Puerto Rico government shuts down
01 May 06 |  Americas
Puerto Rico questions US ties
28 Mar 06 |  Americas
Call for Puerto Rico referendum
23 Dec 05 |  Americas
Ruling party wins in Puerto Rico
24 Dec 04 |  Americas
Regions and territories: Puerto Rico
06 Oct 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Puerto Rico
06 Oct 05 |  Country profiles


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