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Chile: 4th August, Another day of nationwide protest against market education
bolivia / peru / ecuador / chile | education | news report Saturday August 06, 2011 15:52 by Espartaco Gatti - Periódico Solidaridad publicacion.solidaridad at gmail dot com
Marches, street fighting, roadblocks, occupations and pot-banging cacerolazos throughout the country
Report from the Chilean anarchist newspaper "Solidaridad" on another day of nationwide protest against market education in Chile with marches, street fighting, roadblocks, occupations and pot-banging cacerolazos throughout the country. [Castellano]
Another day of nationwide protest against market education
The capital awoke to many of its main thoroughfares cut off by picketing students, residents and workers who set up barricades, distributed pamphlets, painted walls and lit bonfires. From early morning, traffic was blocked in La Alameda, Vicuña Mackenna, Santa Rosa, Providencia, Recoleta, San Pablo and many other main roads in both the outskirts and centre of Santiago. The social unrest could be felt in the air, especially after the government claimed that it would once and for all act to curb the strikes and occupations that have been going on for months already. None of the marches were approved by the Municipality of Santiago, but despite this the people were not afraid and came en masse onto the streets.
The march organized by the ACES (Coordinating Assembly of High School Students), set for 10.30am in Plaza Italia, was unable to get going, as various cores of protesters were violently dispersed by special police forces, who virtually held the city centre under siege (with over 1,000 men in La Alameda alone). Thereafter, the centre became a battlefield. On every corner groups of protesters gathered, blocking traffic and shouting slogans, only to be gassed and beaten with impunity. Time and time again the sons and daughters of the people regrouped and faced up to the repression. The entire morning and much of the afternoon was spent in this way.
Then at 6.30pm, the march called by the Chilean Students Confederation (CONFECH - Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile) and the Colegio de Profesores de Chile teachers' union and also failed to materialize. The huge mass of people that began to gather in Plaza Italia also suffered heavy repression. But again the people resisted and managed to take La Alameda. Thousands took to the streets, marching from Plaza Italia to the presidential palace, while in the surrounding streets there were also skirmishes.
At 8.30pm, people began the cacerolazos - banging on pots. In the centre and in the poor neighbourhoods of Santiago many people left their homes to bang their empty pots, demonstrating their discontent with government policies and with a system that gives them nothing. Later at night, clashes began in some parts of the capital between the youth from the slums and the repressive forces that had begun to take control of the outskirts.
There were major mobilizations in 12 cities, all of which - as a result of police provocation and arrogance - became major disturbances (especially in Concepción, Valparaíso and Santiago). Finally, as night fell, the protests ended with 874 people arrested across the country.
Students and the social movement in general have categorically rejected the 21 items proposed by the government on 1 August last and will continue their well-organized efforts to push forward their struggle. The document released by the President's office entitled "Policies and action proposals for the development of Chilean education" makes no reference to the main demands of the students: the end of profit, the re-nationalization of the copper industry as a form of funding for education, and free education at all levels.
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