Students Clash with Police in Chile

Your June 5th, 2006 article titled, “Students Clash with Police in Chile” failed to emphasize the grand scale of the growing student protests throughout Chile. Santiago has not been the only city to feel the mounting pressure; the government’s lack of initiative to meet the needs of its students has become a national issue. Students are gathering in record numbers to challenge the government to lessen the disgraceful educational gap between the quality of public and private Chilean schools. Recently, Valparaiso witnessed fifteen thousand high school and university students marching alongside professors in a massive demonstration on the Plaza Sotomayor in front of the Congressional building. Valparaiso students delivered a letter rejecting the government’s recent proposal for educational reforms, because they were insufficient. They demanded more schools, smaller classes, and the elimination of exam fees. In the past few days, protests of similar magnitude shook the cities of Antofagasta, Concepción, and Arica, from hundreds to thousands of demonstrators supporting the improvement of schools in each of their cities. The multitude of demonstrators spanning the nation suggests that public education is rapidly becoming the country’s leading domestic issue and President Bachelet’s first chance to prove her commitment to her reformist faith.