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Chile must learn

Chilean students are trying to teach a lesson to their country

On the 28th of April 2011, The Chilean Student Confederation, organized a demonstration against the financial system, delay in the payment of grants, and the student discounts in transportation. It was the beginning for the biggest social movement in the country since the dictatorship.

It is summer in Santiago and the streets are almost empty. Only micros (public buses) pass by, advertising dozens of private universities. There are also posters in the street, radio ads, tv commercials... The whole advertisement system is in motion on behalf of educational marketization. Although months before, the student movement was at its peak. Demonstrations were taking place every week, excessively repressed by pacos (police). Lemons are sold by opportunists to protect the people against the tear gas. Still, youngsters have to clean their faces with a gardenerÂ’s hose that continues watering. This city got used to it. People walk by, as if the fight for a free education was none of their business.

During PinochetÂ’s regime, universities were multiplied from 8 to 60. The privatization of the sector submitted public educational institutions to a market logic of excessive fees and bank credit system. The dictatorship imposed these reforms to keep the system working on their behalf, but posterior governments wonÂ’t tear down a market worth millions of dollars. So the gap between social classes keeps widening.

Summer is gone, and the demonstrations are back. On the 25th of April, a massive protest won more support from society. Their claims for a free education are now joined by ecological economic issues. Chile might be awakening, at last, for equality.

Adrian Aragones Garcia, teksti

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