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Chile: Students March in the Thousands for Education Reform

Thousands of students and teachers marched on the streets of Santiago and in other cities on Tuesday August 28, 2012, to demand education reform. This massive march is part of the student movement's ongoing efforts to overhaul the education system in Chile. Earlier this month, students occupying schools denounced [es] excessive aggression by police as they were forcibly removed from school premises.

The Santiago Times reports that yesterday's march “was notably peaceful and good-natured until it officially ended at 2 p.m. and quickly descended into chaos with ‘encapuchados', or hooded vandals, attacking police [...] The police were quick to respond by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters.”

As in previous protests, citizens were actively covering the march throughout the day via social networks. Most users used the hashtags #YoMarchoel28 (I march on the 28) [es] and #YoApoyoaLosEstudiantes (I support the students) [es] to share pictures, videos, reports, and reactions.

Chilean student leaders pictured on stage as they deliver speeches at a rally demanding an overhaul of the public education system. August 28, 2012. Photo by Mario Tellez Tellez, Copyright Demotix.

Chilean student leaders pictured on stage as they deliver speeches at a rally demanding an overhaul of the public education system. August 28, 2012. Photo by Mario Tellez Tellez, Copyright Demotix.

Architect and sociologist Daniel Jadue (@danieljadue) [es] wrote:

@danieljadue: Me encantaría que el gobierno organizara una marcha de apoyo a sus políticas para ver cuantos saldrían a marchar. #YoApoyoaLosEstudiantes

@danieljadue: I would love to see the government organize a march in support of their policies to see how many would come out to march. #YoApoyoaLosEstudiantes

Coralito (@krisalid_a) [es] referred to the role of teachers in the student movement:

@krisalid_a: ser profesor/a y no apoyar a los estudiantes es una contradicción pedagógica!! #yomarchoel23 #yomarchoel28

@krisalid_a: to be a teacher and to not support the students is a pedagogic contradiction!! #yomarchoel23 #yomarchoel28

NGO Ciudadano Inteligente (@ciudadanoi) [es] highlighted the difference in numbers reported by the Confederation of Chilean Students (Confech) and the carabineros (police):

@ciudadanoi: Marcha por la educación Stgo: Carabineros cifra en 50 mil los asistentes y Confech en 150 mil ¿Qué tal el margen de error? #Transparencia

@ciudadanoi: March for education in Santiago: Carabineros counts 50 thousand participants and Confech counts 150 thousand. How's that for a margin of error? #Transparencia [Transparency]

YouTube user Gonzalo Afa shared the following video, challenging the figures reported by carabineros:

The government and several politicians praised [es] the peaceful nature of the march. In response to this, Marta Lagos (@mmlagoscc) [es] wrote:

@mmlagoscc: Muy extraña la felicitacion del gob a la marcha pacifica de estudiantes.: Yaaa. Y ahora q? Q responde a las demandas q originan la marcha?

@mmlagoscc: The government congratulating the peaceful student march is very strange: OK, now what? What does the government say to the demands that started the march?

Despite the peaceful nature of this march, citizens [es] and the media [es] reported several clashes between protesters and police. According to reports by carabineros, 200 people were arrested and 13 police were injured.

Riot police pictured as they make an arrest at a rally demanding an overhaul of the public education system. August 28, 2012, Santiago, Chile. Photo by Mario Tellez Tellez, copyright Demotix.

Riot police pictured as they make an arrest at a rally demanding an overhaul of the public education system. August 28, 2012, Santiago, Chile. Photo by Mario Tellez Tellez, copyright Demotix.

Several netizens, like SebastiánCaiceoBacon (@sebastiancaiceo) [es], criticized the media's coverage of the march:

@sebastiancaiceo: La prensa es increíble, cuando la marcha es pacifica le dan los 1ros 5 minutos de pantalla y chao, cuando hay desmanes los muestran 1 hora.

@sebastiancaiceo: The press is incredible, when the march is peaceful they dedicate their first 5 minutes of air time to it and that's it, when there are riots they show them for 1 hour.

Supporters of the student movement stress that the government must respond to the student's demands. The Dean of the School of Medicine of the University of Chile, Cecilia Sepúlveda (@decanamedicina) [es] tweeted:

@decanamedicina: Orgullosa x marcha masiva y pacífica de ayer. Ahora el gobierno tiene la palabra ¿q espera para enfrentar la crisis de la educación?

@decanamedicina: Proud of yesterday's peaceful massive march. Now the government has to speak up. What [is the government] waiting for to face the crisis in education?

You can see more citizen photos of the march on news sites El Dínamo [es] and Sentidos Comunes [es].

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