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Piñera promised an end to police brutality during student protest marches

Friday, August 31st 2012 - 00:56 UTC
Full article 5 comments
So far Piñera has only offered timid reforms to one of the most priciest and unfair education system So far Piñera has only offered timid reforms to one of the most priciest and unfair education system

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said that his government would not tolerate police brutality. The remarks came after the police was accused of mistreating student protesters who were demanding educational reforms.

Tens of thousands of students in Chile have been protesting since 2011 to demand free and quality public education and an end to the most priciest and unfair system.

The students and their parents have claimed that Carabineros sexually molested students or used excessive force when breaking up the demonstrations or evicting students from school buildings they had occupied.

The police was also accused of making arbitrary arrests, beating students, and even forcing student protesters to strip naked.

“Of course I am concerned with this matter. We are absolutely not going to tolerate any excess, any police abuse. We have investigated each and every one of the complaints,” said Piñera. Nevertheless the president added that “in many cases, the complaints are irresponsible, made lightly, and later prove to have no claim”.

“If there has been abuse or excess, which is being investigated, we will be the first to demand that it be punished and corrected,” said Piñera.

Also on Wednesday, Chilean Police General Director Gustavo Gonzalez told reporters before testifying to the Senate that four police officers would be disciplined for forcing student protesters to strip naked.

Gonzalez admitted ten arrested students were forced to take their clothes off, including a minor girl and boy who were detained for occupying their school in Rancagua, south of Santiago.

On Tuesday students clashed with Carabineros in Santiago and other Chilean cities to demand education reform. The rally was one of the largest in recent weeks, with between 50,000 and 130,000 protestors, according to police and protest organizers.

While some danced to the rhythm of drums, thousands of others, masked and wearing hoods, followed the procession and attacked police with sticks and stones. The police responded, as they have in the past, with tear gas and water cannons.

The students were backed by members of the Unified Workers Federation, the country's foremost union, which called on members to join the march.

The Chilean education system is considered expensive, inefficient and inequitable, and not only by the protesting students but also by OECD, the organization for the economic cooperation and development, and to which Chile belongs (the only South American country).

Only a handful of demonstrators have gone to court after more than forty demonstrations since 2011, during which police have conducted mass arrests, widely criticized by a number of human rights organizations.

By the end of 2011, the movement had garnered a 10% budget increase for education, in what was a small boon to student debt and what might have been the beginning of reform in the management of public schools.

Public education in Chile suffered from sharp cuts in funding during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, leaving a system that favors expensive private schools that are out of the reach of most of the population. 

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • British_Kirchnerist

    Hope Pinera is serious about ending police brutality, but when even the OECD is agreeing with the protesters' main points he should maybe back down on the policy issue as well...

    Aug 31st, 2012 - 02:44 am 0
  • Sergio Vega

    The better if he promises to put and end to the students brutality againts the policemen, the privates shops and common citiziens that suffer the regular attack from those beast ones wrong called “students”......
    If those beast have received violence from policemen is just because they have started it with bonfires, slingshots, Molotov bombs and other “students” materials.....Well done Piñ seems to be more a leftist “democretino” than a center right politician.
    Mr. Piñera, I would like to see you facing those “nun´s babies” with tied hands recaiving their “petting”.
    You have been infected with the bipolar disease from you neighbor CFK , one day offer the worst pains of hell to all the offenders students and the other you are firing those policemen that do the work you have promised......Please, take your immunity pill to be healed before it become uncontrollable.

    Aug 31st, 2012 - 04:27 am 0
  • vestias

    Hoje o Chile ja não é uma ditadura a classe estudatil tem todo o direito de exigir ao governo reformas nos ensino é um direito de cidadania

    Aug 31st, 2012 - 10:26 am 0
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