Chilean students spurred the government’s push to reform the education system with a massive demonstration on the streets of Santiago and in which at least 200 people were arrested.
The student leaders estimated that 150,000 people attended the march, while the Intendance (governorate) of Santiago and Carabineros estimated that there were about 50,000 people.
“The march has been significant in the number of people who have mobilized and because it has developed without major disturbances of public order,” said the government spokesman, Andrés Chadwick, at the Palacio de la Moneda.
The young people have maintained their demands since the middle of last year to eradicate the educational model imposed in 1981 Carabineros General Luis Valdés told reporters that there were at least 200 detainees and 13 police officers injured.
Valdes said most of the arrests occurred after 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) after the march and highlighted the coordination between the police and the student leaders.
He said he did not know about a student who had fractured his legs after falling from a catwalk. According to unofficial versions, the young man was pushed by a police officer.
The day of mobilization was convened by university and secondary school students , who had the support of teachers, social organizations and unions.
Since the middle of last year, the young people have maintained their demands to eradicate the educational model imposed in 1981 and to obtain a free and quality public education .
The demonstration toured the center of Santiago in a ludic atmosphere, with colorful banners, dances and batucadas (tamborradas).
The demonstrators gathered in front of the University of Santiago’s headquarters and then toured a stretch of the Alameda, the main axis of the city, to end with a concert in the Blanco Encalada sector.
They ask for public education, free and of quality
At the end of the concert, isolated groups of hooded men threw stones and sticks at the police , who had organized a large device to protect order in the streets.
Carabineros (militarized police) repelled the attacks with water tank cars and used to disperse many demonstrators who were peacefully in the surrounding streets.
The government spokesman said that what happened on Tuesday shows that if the authorities have the help of the leaders of the students to avoid the incidents ” a quiet mobilization can be made”.
There were also demonstrations in other cities of the country , such as Concepcion, Temuco, Punta Arenas, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar or Antofagasta.
Isolated groups of hooded men threw stones and sticks at police The vice president of the Student Federation of Chile, Camila Vallejo, said that this day of mobilization shows the validity of student demands and their convening power.
“Today there is a majority of the people who are fighting for a common goal, which is to recover our right to public education, free and of quality for all Chileans,” Vallejo told local media.
The march on Tuesday was the culmination of a hectic month of August in which the protest actions of Chilean students intensified.
Secondary school students were especially active in recent weeks with the occupation of several high schools in the capital to demand that the State take over the administration of the centers, which are currently in the hands of the mayors.
At the university level, students seek the end of the existing profit in many private centers and a reduction in the high costs of careers, which must be covered by credits from the financial system.
The government has responded so far with cheaper credit offers , more scholarships and the tax reform that is debated in Congress, but refuses the structural changes of the system that students demand