“I Study to Learn and to Change My Country… But Not Like This, Not With a Covered Face…”

14 Aug

As students in Chile continue to protest and demand quality and free public education, of course (as there always has been in Chile) there is a conflict over tactics. In this video – via Silvia Viñas – students prevent a group of hooded protestors from setting up a barricade and setting it aflame.  One student debates, “I study to learn and to change my country… but not like this, not with a covered face…”

 

Not that there hasn’t been a fair share of burning and looting. Still, given the recent street fights in England it is fascinating we can watch this debate from afar. This student movement has shown some serious responsibility – even using Facebook to raise funds to replace a bystander’s burned up car and showing up the day after protests to clean up the streets.

Meanwhile President Piñera, the businessman CEO who is the first right-winger to take the presidential reigns since Pinochet,  is fed up with the protests and his abysmal 26% approval rating. Speaking at a signing-ceremony for a law intended to appease the protestors he remarked, “We all want education, healthcare, and many more things for free, but I want to remind them that nothing is free in this life. Someone has to pay.”  

You elect a businessman. You get business.

And in addition to the police repression, the right has employed some meaningless and frivolous tactics against the movement – like releasing the personal information of student leader Camila Vallejo. 

The students are not having any of it. This weekend the movement  rejected dialogue with the Chilean congress and announced a new round of protests.

Meanwhile the quotable monster of Latin American journalism, Eduardo Galeano, recently chimed in  with his support for the student movement, sending his support to the “brave young people that are giving us all a lesson in dignified democracy from the streets of Chile.”

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