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Chilean Students Burn Buses, Demand Education

Chilean Students Burn Buses, Demand Education

For more than a year a steady student movement has been building in the streets of Santiago and other small towns throughout Chile. On Wednesday thousands of these students thronged the streets of Santiago and proceeded to light three Transantiago buses on fire. Police responded with giant water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The students congregated in an unsanctioned demonstration to demand that the current government provide free education. Public universities have become increasingly privatized over the years, hiking up the cost of tuition and putting the burden on working class families, according the the Herald Sun.

This particular student movement wants to push the current president, Sebastian Pinera to change the tax system so the wealthy pay more and to restructure education so that it is no longer a for-profit business. Conversely, the president has claimed he will implement reform through a new wave of scholarships amounting to about $1.2 billion and lowering the student loan interest.

Wednesday’s demonstration was not sanctioned by the government and quickly escalated into a dangerous situation. Hooded vandals mixed with the students in the streets and were responsible for setting the buses on fire. Officials have maintained that the students cannot be exempt from responsibility for the incidents during Wednesday’s protest.

Dozens of people were arrested during the protest and some accounts say that 49 police officers were injured. The torched buses were dangerous spaces in which passengers were forced to crawl away in order to survive. A presidential spokesman berated Wednesday’s actions saying:

The leaders [of the student protests] are opening the doors to vandalism and delinquency

How much more should we put up with these illegal marches that call on school takeovers and that threaten a violent August? What does that have to with education?

Protests for education reform started about a year ago in Chile and some had hoped that change would come about relatively quickly, Al Jazeera notes. However, while protests have continued throughout the streets of Santiago very little has changed, disheartening many students. A protest in late June of this year also came to a decisive end when over 400 people were arrested.

While most protests are actually relatively peaceful, they have become increasingly volatile as government officials have lost patience. The protests are headed by the University of Chile student federation. The president of the group, Gabriel Boric, told local TV, “I deeply regret what is happening today in the streets of Santiago, but the government is responsible for this because of its indolence and silence to all the proposals of the student movement.”

Very little dialogue has occurred between government and student officials, meaning that education reforms will likely remain contentious territory for a while yet.

 

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17 comments

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8:35AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

thank you

3:05PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

Thank you so much for the reality check, Dani. :)

1:02PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

In case you don't know, Chile is one of the countries with the highest economic and cultural inequality in the whole world, and this is mostly because of our disastrous educational system. We are only asking for public, equal, inclusive and quality education, which should be free for all people, as education is a RIGHT, as stated in the Declaration of Human Rights and the Chilean Constitution, NOT A PRIVILEGE for those who have money.

I hope that at least Care2 people will read this, as you really need to be more serious while writing this kind of articles. I'd deeply appreciate it if you could get more information and correct this publication, as we don't want uninformed people to get even more uninformed by reading this. The Chilean student movement is a serious one, it is NOT about people causing damage and burning things around.

Thank you and greetings!

1:01PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

Hello all, I'm from Chile. I was still a student until a month ago.
First of all, I have to say that I've been reading Care2 news for some time now and have been signing in a lot of causes, but this time Care2 has really disappointed me. You should inform yourselves a lot more before posting articles like this one.

With all due respect, reading this article and some of the comments posted here, I can see the typical ignorance of Americans regarding international matters.

First, the Chilean student movement is NOT happening "in the streets of Santiago and other small towns throughout Chile", it's happening in ALL of Chile. A vast majority of Chilean students is fighting for a better education, not only those from the capital.

Second, it WAS NOT the students who burned the buses. It was hooded people who got into the initially PACIFIC protest to cause damage. The students ALWAYS call for pacific protests and they act that way during the protests.
It is even possible that the hooded people are part of the police, to make the students look bad to the eyes of the Chilean society. It has already been demonstrated that the Chilean Secretary of the Interior has planned things like this to accuse innocent people. Do you not even wonder why is it that THREE buses could be burned without the police showing up?

In case you don't know, Chile is one of the countries with the highest economic and cultural inequality in the whole world, and this is mostly because of our disastr

1:00PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

Hello all, I'm from Chile. I was still a student until a month ago.
First of all, I have to say that I've been reading Care2 news for some time now and have been signing in a lot of causes, but this time Care2 has really disappointed me. You should inform yourselves a lot more before posting articles like this one.

With all due respect, reading this article and some of the comments posted here, I can see the typical ignorance of Americans regarding international matters.

First, the Chilean student movement is NOT happening "in the streets of Santiago and other small towns throughout Chile", it's happening in ALL of Chile. A vast majority of Chilean students is fighting for a better education, not only those from the capital.

Second, it WAS NOT the students who burned the buses. It was hooded people who got into the initially PACIFIC protest to cause damage. The students ALWAYS call for pacific protests and they act that way during the protests.
It is even possible that the hooded people are part of the police, to make the students look bad to the eyes of the Chilean society. It has already been demonstrated that the Chilean Secretary of the Interior has planned things like this to accuse innocent people. Do you not even wonder why is it that THREE buses could be burned without the police showing up?

In case you don't know, Chile is one of the countries with the highest economic and cultural inequality in the whole world, and this is mostly because of our disastr

7:59AM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

It is time for an alternate approach to education, and privatization of the type happening in Chile is not the way. In the US, recent estimates put student load debt at $904 Billion Dollars. Young people are in an impossible bind, with ridiculously high tuition, and employers who insist on a university education for virtually any job, whether the job requires it or not. And then there are no jobs.

By my own experience, in my lifetime car prices have gone up by 10x, house prices by 20x, and university tuition by 50x. Hard to say this is not broken. And who wins? The Banks - the same banks that were responsible for the destruction of the economy.

4:16AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Troy G, apparently you've forgotten all about the Occupy movement in America which is still going on. Not saying that it's been a rousing success, though it has brought needed attention to problems like the banks.

7:49AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

There will be riots on American streets if the KOCHroach FUNDED GOP rig ther ballots, steal the elections; riots for food, medicine, shelter. The neo-con right wing scum are put Ryan on t6he Rmoney ticket to erase all doubt over this plan.

1:12PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

Protests worked well in the sixties. Americons are too well entertained to protest today. They could miss "American Idol" or even today's "Care2 Causes".

12:37PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

If these idiots think burning buses is a solution to their problems, they really NEED an education.

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