Socialist Worker

Chile: Student storm of protest

Issue No. 2275

Dozens of students stormed a meeting on the education budget in Chile’s senate building in Santiago on Thursday of last week.

Education minister Felipe Bulnes and others hurriedly left the meeting. But students stayed for several hours until opposition ministers pledged to force a referendum on education funding.

This follows anger at attempts to respond to Chile’s new student movement by increasing the number of teenage conscripts.

The government claims that the student shutdown of schools and universities prevented recruiters from reaching targets.

Nearly 57,000 18-year olds have now been given one month to report for potential military duty—enough to meet the shortfall six times over.

The action at the Senate came hours after police ejected protesters from the Congress building in Valparaiso.

Up to 100,000 students had marched on Tuesday and Wednesday to present the government with the results of their “unofficial referendum”.

Of the 1.5 million who voted, 88.7 percent supported free, high quality education.

Sebastian Pinera, Chile’s millionaire president, has seen his approval ratings drop to around 20 percent—while 80 percent support the students.

Protests against market reforms of education have also grown in Colombia. Some 30,000 marched in the capital Bogota earlier this month.

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Tue 25 Oct 2011, 17:45 BST
Issue No. 2275
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