The Chilean Student Movement Resumes with Force

Students take the street on March 28, 2013

Students take the street on March 28, 2013

Shortly after the end of the summer break (summer in the southern hemisphere ends March 21), the student movement in Chile has returned to the streets in force. On the morning of Thursday, March 28, ten thousand youth blocked the central avenue of Alameda in Santiago. Some masked students threw molotov cocktails and police and set up barricades. The police tried to control the demo with guanacos, the armored tanks that shoot high-pressure jets of water and tear gas.

Starting in May 2011, university and high school students across Chile took up where the student struggle of 2006 left off, fighting for free and higher quality education. Universities in Chile are all private, and Chile ranks low in funding for public education.

A guanaco hit with a molotov burns in Santiago

A guanaco hit with a molotov burns in Santiago

The student movement quickly grew to include millions, engaging in protests, strikes, riots, and school occupations. Within this space, anarchist participation grew exponentially. The Federación Estudiantil Libertaria–Libertarian Student Federation–has grown to become a powerful force in the movement, and the use of black blocs, molotov cocktails, and barricades has become a major element within nearly every single student protest. As a result, critiques of education within capitalist society have increasingly spread within the movement. Leftist and Marxist formations also have substantial within the student movement.

By the end of the school year in 2012, the government had returned to the negotiating table numerous times, prostating itself a little more, offering lower interest rates on student loans and greater funding for public education, in a desperate bid to stop the riots. So far, the students have not agreed to any compromise.

In other news, the night of March 27, police raided two anarchist houses–the social center Pandemia and a squat–in the southern city of Temuco. The raid was an attempt to encounter materials being prepared for March 29, the Day of the Youth Combatant, in which people across the country, especially in poorer neighborhoods, celebrate youth resistance against the dictatorship by fighting the cops. In many poblaciones, it is common for people to shoot at the police with shotguns and pistols.

Many common Chileans feel that the government can not as easily resort to military dictatorship or armed force to quell popular resistance and impose capitalist policies, as it did in 1973, because now people are armed.

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