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article imageRiots in Chile as students defy government ban

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 4, 2011 in World
Santiago - Non-authorized protests carried out by students and teachers demonstrating for educational reforms in Chile were faced by thousands of police using tear gas and water cannons.
Following several weeks of protests and rioting from teachers, secondary and university students that have caused massive road blocks and destruction in several cities, the government took yesterday the decision of not approving further request for authorization to use major thoroughfares in any of the main cities in the country.
The Government of President Sebastian Piñera responded to the protests on Monday by submitting a comprehensive proposal which includes constitutional reforms to improve and strengthen the education system in Chile. The students have not formally responded to the proposals but several representatives from students organizations have expressed their dissatisfaction with the measures put forward by the Ministry of Education.
Amongst the students demands are the constitutional right to quality public education, the elimination of charges for high school and University education and year-around free access to the transportation system nationwide. According to the students, the proposal presented by the government is considered “ambiguous” and inconsistent with their demands.
The government did not authorize the demonstrations to prevent damage to public and private property. However, dozens of barricades were erected in downtown Santiago, where students burned tires and fought thousands of riot police instructed to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the main government buildings in the civic center of the city. Similar protests are taking place in other cities including Valparaiso, Concepción, Valdivia and Iquique. The balance so far today is 197 persons arrested and eight policemen injured.
The demonstrations take place at the time dozens of students maintain a hunger strike in support of the students’ educational demands. The results of two opinion polls released during the past three days indicate that the approval of President Piñera has reached 26%, an all- time low, the lowest of any other Chilean president since the return of democracy to the country in 1990, reports La Tercera (in Spanish).
The video that follows in in Spanish, but the images show part of the action of police and demonstrators in downtown Santiago de Chile.
More about Chile, Student protests, Chilean Government, Education system
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