Chile’s Student Rebels: Views From The Trenches
August 12, 2011
This analysis was prepared by Ph.D. Student in Economics and COHA Research Fellow Eloy Fisher
Radio Toma, loosely translated as “Occupation Radio,” broadcasts non-stop information about the protests being staged in front of the University of Chile’s main building – literally a stone’s throw away from the Presidential Palace of La Moneda. Since June 10, students have occupied the beautiful neoclassical 19th Century campus as the protests have continued to intensify around their one demand – to dismantle the market-based approach of the Chilean educational system, something they have scornfully come to label “Pinochet’s education.”
“We just distrust the political class,” one of the students in front of Radio Toma told me. But even when the political establishment tried to discredit their protests, students’ responses turned out to be well-organized. They are fully cognizant of their role in trying to overhaul not only the educational system, but the tense democratic framework put in place by the Pinochet regime as well.
The media so far has been complacent in its coverage. Except for the same international agencies which tend to cover the protests from the political trenches, Chilean media seemed very cozy inside the tall steel gates of theClub Hípico, where flustered cameramen and news commentators took pictures, argued about attendance and whether the march would take a turn for the worse. Unlike the conventional narrative, these protests are not limited to the wayward acts of “subversive vagrants” (as the gaffe-prone Senator Carlos Larraín publicly derided), or even worse, a lighthearted, middle-class uprising – a view implicit in the New York Times and in a recent interview with neoliberal pundit Moises Naím.
Chilean Student Movement Leads Uprising For Transformation of the Country
New America Media
By Roger Burbach
August 13, 2011
Chile is becoming a part of the global movement of youth that is transforming the world bit by bit—the Arab Spring, the sit-ins and demonstrations in the Spanish plazas, and the rebellion of youth in London.
Weeks of demonstrations and strikes by Chilean students came to a head August 9, as an estimated 100,000 people poured into the streets of Santiago. Joined by professors and educators, they were demanding a free education for all, from the primary school level to the university.
In the riotous confrontations that took place between bands of youth and the police, tear gas canisters were fired into the crowds, and 273 people were arrested. Later on, in the cool winter evening, the deafening noise of people banging on their pots and pans in support of the students could be heard throughout Santiago, the country’s capital city of six million.