SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Union leaders scuffled with police outside the governor’s mansion Tuesday during a protest against mass layoffs of public workers in this U.S. territory, which has a jobless rate higher than any U.S. state.
The group of about 30 demonstrators briefly struggled with dozens of police in riot gear on cobblestone streets outside Gov. Luis Fortuno’s residence in La Fortaleza, a powder-blue mansion where Puerto Rico’s governors have ruled since the 17th century.
Authorities said no arrests were made, and no injuries were reported. The protesters dispersed after the clash.
Puerto Rico’s government announced Friday that mass layoffs were crucial to help close a $3.2 billion deficit as the Caribbean island struggles through its third year of recession and a 15 percent unemployment rate.
Some 8,000 public workers were fired in May and the government said Friday that an additional 16,970 would lose their jobs. Most workers will be laid off Nov. 6 in a move expected to save $386 million.
Union leaders are calling for an island-wide strike for Oct. 15 to protest the layoffs.
Also Tuesday, a demonstrator threw an egg at Fortuno as he stood at a podium during a public event in the coastal city of Fajardo. The man, who missed the governor, was detained and police were consulting with prosecutors on possible charges.
Fortuno and other top officials, including Justice Secretary Antonio Sagardia and Police Superintendent Jose Figueroa Sancha, called for calm.
“We are at a tense moment in Puerto Rico. Journalists, the police, the union leaders, we all have to cool down,” Figueroa said during a radio interview. “We are all Puerto Rican and we live on the same island.”