The student movement in chile: Report from the mega-march in Santiago on July 14, 2011
In this report, we joined the students and workers in Santiago de Chile in the massive march on July 14, 2011, to hear the voices of the protesters in their struggle against neoliberalism and for the democratization of public education. We also spoke with an activist in Santiago about the history of the privatization of education to better understand what is happening in the current struggle in Chile.(Descarga aquí)
Just a few days ago, on Thursday August 4, 2011, the student movement in Chile was brutally attacked by the neoliberal government of Sebastián Piñera. After nearly six weeks of protests, marches, and occupations of schools, the students once again took to the streets in a massive, unauthorized protest. In response to the escalating protests, President Piñera chose to apply a law put in place by former dictator Augusto Pinochet, which makes popular assembly illegal if it is not authorized by the government. Threatening the student activists, the Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter stated that “the students will be held responsible for any deaths that result from the protests.”
The massive mobilizations throughout the country were met with violent repression by the thousands of police officers deployed to attack the protesters, and by the end of the day there were dozens wounded and 874 people had been arrested. Reports from Santiago announced that the city was under a state of siege, and the smell of tear gas had permeated the barrios. That night, neighbors took to the streets with the practice known as the “cacerolazo,” banging on pots and pans late into the night to show their support for the students and to denounce the violence. This practice became quite common during the nearly two decades of military dictatorship under Pinochet.
The following day, protests were held across Latin America and around the world, as rallies were held in front of Chilean embassies and Consulates in dozens of countries. And in Santiago, outside of the Memory Museum—a space dedicated to the collective memory of the state terrorism of Pinochet’s dictatorship—student installed the “Museum of Repression” with displays of items they had gathered during Thursday’s protests. Images circulated of a display of tear gas canisters, accompanied by a sign that reads: “Each canister costs approximately $250 dollars, and on this block alone we gathered more than 370 discarded canisters. You can draw your own conclusions.”
What follows is a segment produced by Radio Zapatista a few weeks ago, reporting from the July 14 march in Santiago de Chile. While it is now somewhat outdated, we want to air it because it gives a sense of the events that led to Thursday’s historic march and repression, and allows us to hear some of the voices of those who have been, and continue to, organize in defense of public education.