The student movement and citizen protests against exclusion, neoliberalism and the lack of democracy
by Claudia Villagrán Muñoz
Something changed in Chile on August 4. It was no longer only students who were mobilized but an important part of Chilean society actively joined in the students’ clear and concise demands: free, quality public education for all Chilean children and youths. The march, called by high-school and university students and by the professors, who on that day defied the authorities’ orders not to hold another march along the main avenue of Santiago, was brutally repressed by the Chilean police, who are under the command of the Ministry of the Interior.
There arose immediately a widespread indignation over the prohibition against the right to assemble freely to demonstrate, indignation against the police forces being used against minors who were not causing trouble, indignation over seeing downtown Santiago in a state of siege as in the worst days of the dictatorship, indignation because a just demand was not being listened to after three months of legitimate protest. When night fell, the most humble of the population, sectors of the middle class and even the well-to-do all over the country joined together for a cacerolazo [a noisy protest involving the banging of pots and pans] organized by the citizenry in a matter of hours, a massive spontaneous protest that had not been heard since protests across the country against the Pinochet dictatorship. (more…)