Tens of thousands march for free education in Chile

Collection with 13 media items created by Zachary F. Volkert

08 May 2014 21:11

Not just universities, not just public institutions, not even just grade school – Chile’s student movement demanding state-funded education at all levels marched against inaction from Pres. Michelle Bachelet this Thursday in Chile.

Official replace reports stated that 20 local police were wounded, three by molotov cocktails. Organizers, collected from every level of education, estimated 100,000 marched in Santiago alone, with police estimating around 40,000. More than 100 were detained by police.

Leaders of the student movement expressed renewed doubt that the president will fulfill her promises to meet the call for free education that it has called for since 2011, including University of Chile student federation FECH president, Melissa Sepúlveda.

“[Bachelet] has left it very unclear as to what reforms exactly will be made to the education system,” Sepúlveda said. “And today there are clear signals from the ministry of education that schools will continue to be a market.”

Funding to undertake the project of nationalizing all of Chile’s public and private schools in order to combat inequality has been one of the biggest obstacles in meeting the movement’s demands. Tomas Leighton, spokesperson of high school student movement Cones, reiterated the use of natural resources and tax reform as the best ways to achieve free education.

“The money needs to come from a tax reform,” Leighton said. “Chile is a mining country with a lot of copper that is going to multinational companies, that are also arriving here to flood citizens with malls and shopping centers.”

Past leaders of the student movement who are now in Congress left work for the day in Valparaíso to join in the protest movement, including Karol Cariola, Giorgio Jackson and Camilla Vallejo.

Chile Santiago Education Student Move... Protests

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Title photo for the collection
Tens of thousands march...#1
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Chilean police and protesters clashed at the first march for free education of Pres. Michelle Bachelet's new term. Here, an officer clubs a young protester who had been throwing rocks at police moments earlier.

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Tens of thousands march...#8
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Police arrest young protesters such as the one pictured here, although it is difficult to convict their offenses under Chilean law. During this protest, 20 police were injured, three from being hit by molotov cocktails.

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Tens of thousands march...#4
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Water trucks and tear gas began flying from police forces relatively soon after the protests culminated in the plaza. Police rush to detain encapuchados - young, hooded protesters - throwing rocks at them.

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Tens of thousands march...#11
By Zachary F. Volkert
07 May 2014

Students are also asking for reforms to extend to high school, leveling the advantage that families who can afford private education have. Tomás Leighton, spokesperson for high school student federation Cones, believes that funding can be reached through a few key changes that focus on the country looking inward.

“The money needs to come from a tax reform,” Leighton said. “But Chile is also a mining country with a lot of copper that is going to multinational companies, that are also arriving here to flood citizens with malls and shopping centers.”

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Tens of thousands march...#7
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

As the protests are youth focused, many of those who are detained are extremely young. A girl who looks no older than 12 is hauled into police custody here as friends scream for her release.

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Tens of thousands march...#6
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

More than 100 those who clashed with police following the march were detained. Here, a young man is pulled across the asphalt to be ushered into a police vehicle. Human rights observers rush to film the incident and catch his name - just missing it as the back doors of the police van close behind it.

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Tens of thousands march...#12
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Despite the student movement's youthful outlook, older citizens can be seen throughout the crowds at the protest, such as this man who cheers along with a speech about the importance of the movement to fighting inequality in Chile. The country has one of the worst income inequalities in South America, consistently ranked with one of the lowest Gini coefficients globally by the OECD.

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Tens of thousands march...#13
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

An officer peeks out of his armored vehicle after plowing into the plaza to look around. He shuts it quickly before moving back into action.

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Tens of thousands march...#2
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Following past trends, organizer and police crowd estimates varied greatly: 100,000 and 40,000 respectively. Participants marched for several hours from Plaza Italia toward the center of the city until gathering in a plaza pictured here a few blocks south of La Moneda palace - the first time a protest had been allowed to pass the landmark is several years.

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Tens of thousands march...#5
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Heavy bursts of water fly from canons on the tops of armored police vehicles, throwing leaves and protesters running from them. Tear gas is also mixed into various batches of the liquid ammunition.

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Tens of thousands march...#3
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Students across all levels of education have been pushing for free education since 2011. Thousands flood the march in body paint, costumes and, pictured here, cardboard clothing reading piola, a Chilean slang term meaning intelligent.

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Tens of thousands march...#10
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Until clashes began with police, the march was a largely peaceful affair calling for Bachelet to make good on promises she had made during her campaign to meet the demands the student movement has been asking for since 2011. Organizers like Melissa Sepúlveda, president of the University of Chile's student federation Fech, fear that reform may not be coming as soon as they had hoped.

“[Bachelet] has left it very unclear as to what reforms exactly will be made to the education system,” Sepúlveda said. “And today there are clear signals from the ministry of education that schools will continue to be a market.”

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Tens of thousands march...#9
By Zachary F. Volkert
08 May 2014

Clashes spread across blocks of the city and were not put fully under control until late into the afternoon - largely due to the force of water trucks such as the one pictured here which releases powerful blasts from canons at three different levels.