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Protesting students clash with police in Santiago: 49 police injured and 75 arrests

Thursday, August 9th 2012 - 06:45 UTC
Full article 30 comments
Hooded vandals set on fire public transport buses Hooded vandals set on fire public transport buses

Police in Santiago used water cannons and tear gas as thousands of students took to the streets, raging against the government's policy on education. Vandals set buses ablaze and attacked government property amid violence that left 49 Carabineros injured and 75 people arrested.

Authorities say leaders of Wednesday’s protests cannot be exempt from responsibility for the burning of the Transantiago mass-transit system buses. Reports describe one such attack, during which passengers had to take cover on the floor while hooded vandals hurled rocks at the windows.

“It's unacceptable,” said Transport minister Pedro Errazuriz. “There are millions of people who use the Transantiago and these heartless people are taking the wrong attitude by burning the buses and putting passengers and the driver at risk.”

“The leaders are opening the doors to vandalism and delinquency,” presidential spokesman Andres Chadwick said.

“How much more should we put up with these illegal marches that call on school takeovers and that threaten a violent August? What does that have to with education?”

Students say their demonstration was motivated by a lack of response to their demands to make public education accessible to all. They are calling for changes to the tax system so that the rich pay more. They also say that change will only come when the private sector is supervised and education is no longer a for-profit business.

The authorities have vowed to stamp out what they have called the “radicalizing demonstrations, but the message has so far only fueled further anger.

Both sides of the conflict have toughened their stance. President Sebastian Piñera has refused to radically change the education system, which still fails the public with poor quality public schools, expensive private universities, poor teaching standards and banks that offer education loans at high interest rates that most Chileans cannot afford them.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • GeoffWard2

    Its good to know that this is not just mindless violence ...

    ... and that these future leaders of their country are taking the opportunity to show that arson, riot and destruction is the way to create a better life through education.

    Aug 09th, 2012 - 09:28 am 0
  • The Chilean perspective

    These kids are taking advantage of a democracy gone mad. Even though more than 150 male and female cops have been injured since the demos began and some seriously, countless buildings and other property vandalized, not a single kid has been convicted. It is a total failure of the judicial system, the cops arrest these delinquents and the justices release them. It is scandalous, but the government can do very little. They will never get free university education, someone has to pay and to ask a pensioner or a low income earner to do it through their VAT or income tax is unfair. The poor should not have to pay, yes....But the ones that can afford it SHOULD have to pay! Universal free university for a poor country like Chile is CRAZY, we just can't afford it.

    Aug 09th, 2012 - 10:17 am 0
  • ElaineB

    @2 I agree, I love the idea of free university education but it is financially impossible to provide. There should be bursaries for financially disadvantaged but capable and promising students; it should not be only for the wealthy.

    Interestingly, the number of applicants to English universities has fallen since the student fees have increased (they are still nowhere near US levels). I do not see this as particularly negative for two reasons. University education is still free for students genuinely unable to pay or receive help from parents, and students loans are available. The loans do not have to be repaid until the borrower's income reaches a certain level.

    Whilst ideally it would be great for all students to enjoy a free university level education, the reality is that a significant number regard it as a three/four year party or drop out after the first year because it was never right for them. By putting a price on further education for those that can afford it, you put a genuine value on it.

    Aug 09th, 2012 - 10:49 am 0
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