The anti-tuition protests are continuing in Chile, triggering a major police action in Santiago Thursday followed by another occupation the following day.
The BBC reports on Thursday’s police action:
Police in Chile have detained 139 people – most of them teenage students – who were occupying three schools in the capital, Santiago.
There were violent clashes as police moved into the buildings.
The occupation is part of continuing protests against the government’s education policies.
Chilean students have held months of mass protests in the past year to demand free, high-quality public education for all.
The BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago says the action seems to mark a hardening of the government’s stance towards the protest.
Student leader Camila Vallejo, who came into prominence in Chile during last year’s protests, criticised the action.
“It is a direct assault on public education and on the chance to advance towards ending inequality in Chile,” she said.
Here’s some raw video of Thursday’s police action from RT:
And a report from RT:
Chilean Police deployed tear gas and water cannons against student protestors as they stormed schools in Santiago where the activists had held a weeklong sit-in. Officers arrested 139, claiming the use of force was “necessary to maintain order.”
Police action occurred at the Dario Salas, Miguel de Cervantes and Confederacion Suiza schools at the behest of Santiago Mayor Pablo Zalaquett. Water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse students who resisted arrest and brawled with police.
Police officers forcibly entered Miguel de Cervantes with a water cannon and climbed over fences to capture the students.
After failing to negotiate an agreement with students, Zalaquett threatened to withdraw their scholarships, provoking the ire of other mayors who branded it an “abuse of power.”
In the wake of the evictions, Zalaquett said he would have preferred for there to have been no arrests, but added that the “students were given a chance to leave peacefully, but they didn’t take it.” The Chilean government rejects the sit-ins as a form of protest, he said, calling on the students’ parents to intervene.
But Thursday’s violence hasn’t deterred the students, as MercoPress reports:
Following over a hundred arrests made on Thursday and clashes with police, students in Santiago occupied on Friday the central building of the University of Chile, the country’s most important higher education facility, as the demands to the government over education reform ensue.
Some thirty university students entered the building this morning, located metres from the Chilean presidential palace, in the centre of Santiago.
In 2011, the building was taken over for the period of five months, while bloody protests and clashes took place on the Chilean capital city’s streets on numerous occasions throughout the year.
“Secondary school students and university students are in the same fight and we are not going to take a step back on this,” the president of the student’s federation from the University of Chile Gabriel Boric said on his Twitter account today.
Students reignited their claims two weeks ago in the hopes of changing the education system left by dictator Augusto Pinochet (in power from 1973-1990) demanding free university education and central government control over public schools.