100,000 Students March in Chile’s Second (and largest) Protest of the Year

Yesterday, Wedensday, May 16, 100,000 students and supporters marched in Santiago in the protest organized by the Confederation of University Students of Chile (Confech).

Confech spokesperson  and president of the Student Federation of the Universidad de Chile (FECh) Gabriel Boric said that the students would continue to march until the entire education system was changed, and they would not “conform to the corrections you [the government] make.” Undoubtedly, he was speaking of recent government proposals to provide state-sponsored, rather than bank-sponsored, student loans at low interest rates to be paid off when students begin working and according to their income. This was one of Confech’s main demands, but as Boric said, it is merely part of a much larger transformation that must take place.

For more on the most recent student protests, see my piece from May 15 on the April march and the memory of neoliberalism in the extraordinary and the everyday.

For an enlightening perspective on last spring’s (U.S. fall) protests, see Scott Crago’s piece on the student protests as a window gender, ethnicity, and social issues in Chile.

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2 Responses to 100,000 Students March in Chile’s Second (and largest) Protest of the Year

  1. Not terribly insightful, but this is amusing to me because, in 1968, 100,000 people (mostly students) marched in the aptly-named “March of the 100,000” to protest military rule, and it was the largest protest and/or rally in Brazilian history up to that point (the 1980s saw greater mobilizations in the “Diretas Ja!” or “Direct Elections Now!” campaign).

    Still, it may not have been Chile’s largest rally ever, but 100,000 is no small number. Any idea if/how it shapes and/or reflects changes in society, in Pinera’s situation and his future, and in the presidential elections that are slowly starting to line up?

  2. Brandi A. Townsend says:

    Thinking about Boric’s statement, I believe the rally, as well as the previous one (60,000) shows that unless Pinera’s government completely overhauls the educational system, the student organizers will not back down. I really don’t see that happening, especially not before the elections. As I said in the May 15 post, these students *feel* neoliberalism every day. It isn’t just about an ideology, at least not for all of them. It pervades their lives in ways we don’t always think about. What is it like, for example, to buy $20 in groceries on cuotas?(Cuotas are installments–and they are more complicated than credit cards, at least to my American brain.) What’s it like to go to college and not have the benefit of a work-study program, student loans, or real scholarships (i.e., scholarships that you *don’t* have to pay back)? I think that the students are tired of it, and their unwillingness to quit reflects an activism and collective spirit of a previous generation–one that neoliberalism, believe it or not, hasn’t managed to completely shut down. As for Pinera, yeah, that 24% approval rating will likely go nowhere as long as he maintains his stance on the students–not to mention the regional conflicts.

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