Massive student rally in Chile

2011-10-19 20:27

Santiago - Thousands of students descended on down town Santiago on Wednesday for a massive protest march meant to be the culmination of two days of rolling street protests for education reform.

Students early on Wednesday began milling around the Plaza Italia, usually a venue for major sporting events, and in front of the University of Santiago - the two gathering spots for this most recent of numerous youth-led protests to be held in the Chilean capital since May.

The re-launch of the protests after several weeks' hiatus comes after talks between the government and student leaders broke down.

The Chilean Students Confederation called for the two days of protests with the backing of some 70 other organisations, including the country's largest labour confederation and a teachers organisation.

But the demonstrations have been marred by violence, as hooded protesters on both days erected barricades and set tyres ablaze across the city, prompting police to respond with tear gas and water cannons.

The government denounced the violence and the destruction of private and public property and said it would impose strict new security measures in response to the burning of a bus by protesters on Tuesday.

Police said some 260 people had been detained by early on Wednesday, and that eight police officers had been hurt in two days of skirmishes.

"The government strongly condemns these acts," said Deputy Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla.

The students, Ubilla said, should "find another way to express their views that doesn't involve violence and destruction, which does nothing to advance the dialogue," Ubilla said.

Disaffected rowdies

But the head of the student group insisted that the protests were peaceful for the most part, and blamed the unrest on a relatively small band of disaffected rowdies.

"Violence doesn't help anyone, it hurts us," said Camilo Ballesteros, who criticised the government "for its inability to identify the small group" of troublemakers that he said was responsible for the unrest.

The protests are Chile's biggest since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship more than two decades ago.

The latest student upheaval also coincides with youth-led Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and other major cities across the globe.

The students said they have rejected further negotiations with the government because it had not moved toward their demands for free public education from grade school through university.

At the moment, only about 40% of students qualify for free education based on parents' income.

Classes have been on hold for months in many schools and universities during the demonstrations, which routinely draw tens of thousands of students into the streets.

The government has said the students are radicals with whom it has been futile to negotiate.

Read more on:    chile  |  education

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.