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Thousands March Reviving Chile's Student Movement

With a massive protest at the national level, the student movement demanding free, quality education returned to the streets of Chile in full force.

Using slogans like “and it’s going to fall, it’s going to fall, the education of Pinochet…and Bachelet,” students from throughout the country gathered April 11, 2013 in civic centers of the country's various cities to return to the request that the government provide a real solution to the inequality and profit in education. The organizers said that between 120,000 and 150,000 people joined the march in Santiago, becoming the largest protest in many months.

Karol Cariola (@Karolcariola) [es], former president of the FEC (Federation of Students at the University of Concepcion) [es] and leader of the communist youth

@Karolcariola: Mañana a las 11 hrs. En Plaza Italia marchamos por la educación pública gratuita y de calidad!! Chile se lo merece, la paciencia se acabó.

@Karolcariola: Tomorrow at 11 o’clock. In Plaza Italia we will march for free, public quality education!! Chile deserves it, patience has run out.

Actor Benjamín Vicuña (@benjaminvicunaMORI) [es] supported this new call, together with many netizens under the tag #NosVemosel11 (#SeeYouonthe11) [es]:

@benjaminvicunaMORI: Porque la única manera de cambiar el orden de las cosas, es desde una educación digna y gratuita #NosVemosEl11

@benjaminvicunaMORI: Because the only way of changing the order of things is from a decent and free education #NosVemosEl11

Social scientist Alberto Mayol wrote in his blog [es] about the origin of the student movement that began in 2011.

Estudiantes en la marcha del 11 de abril de 2013 en Santiago, Chile. Foto del usuario Flickr Nicolás Roblez Fritz. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Students in the march of April 11, 2013 in Santiago, Chile. Photo from Flickr user Nicolas Roblez Fritz. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

El movimiento estudiantil de 2011 tiene como uno de sus pilares las injusticias del modelo educativo, pero añade a ello un diagnóstico sobre la sociedad y un cuestionamiento de la estructura en que se han articulado lo público y lo privado, siendo esa tensión la que está en el trasfondo,

The student movement of 2011 has as one of its pillars the injustices of the education model, but adds to it a diagnosis for society and a questioning of the structure in which the public and private has been articulated, this being the tension in the background.

Some netizens like La Anti Psicóloga (@janetnoseda) [es] commented happily that the movement will continue to live.

@janetnoseda: apuesta del GOB al descarte del mov. Estudiantil falló pq #NoEstánSolos. Chile entero quiere otra educación! @el_dinamo @elquintopoder

@janetnoseda: the Government’s commitment to discard the student movement failed bc #NoEstánSolos (#You’reNotAlone) [es]. All of Chile wants another education! @el_dinamo [es] @elquintopoder [es]

While representatives of the actual government, like the Defense Minister Rodrigo Hintzpeter (@rhinzpeter) [es], rejected this new protest.

@rhinzpeter: Voceros del movimiento estudiantil hablan bajo mismo formato de 2011. No son capaces de reconocer nada de lo hecho en 2 años. Es un Dejavu.

@rhinzpeter: The spokespeople of the student movement speak in the same format as in 2011. They are not capable of recognizing anything that has been done in 2 years. It’s déjà vu.

On the recent citizen movements in Chile, among them the student one, Luis Pachecho wrote in El Quinto Poder a column called “Lo Inevitable: El Devenir de los Cambios” [es] (“The Inevitable: The Evolution of the Changes”) that talks about the fear of “revolution” that such movements provoke.

Hay miedo y casi terror en los sectores más conservadores, de que se produzcan cambios que terminen con esta supuesta sociedad equilibrada y se vuelva a viejos escenarios de la política chilena.

Quienes así piensan, se equivocan en la forma y en el fondo. [...] Ciertamente cualquier cambio de estructura significa una revolución en la sociedad, que no tiene porque ser ni violenta ni traumática. [...]

There is fear and almost terror in the most conservative sectors, of what these changes could produce that end with an allegedly balanced society and becomes old Chilean policy scenarios.

Those who think like this are wrong in their form and substance […] Certainly, any change in structure signifies a revolution in society, which doesn’t have to be either violent or traumatic. […]

The truth is that the rebirth of the movement puts into context the next electoral race and many ask themselves whether or not this will affect the result of the elections. Students, on the one hand, have detached themselves from ties to any particular political party or candidate. Even the rejection of the management of the former president- and actual candidate for the presidency-Michelle Bachelet became apparent on the subject of education as much in the slogans as on the web. Thereon, biochemistry student Sebastián R. Serey (@sebaserey) [es] said:

@sebaserey: Qué sentirá Bachelet al ver el descontento ciudadano q existe en Chile hoy en día? De verdad piensa que alguien le cree? #nosvemosel11

@sebaserey: What would Bachelet feel to see the discontent citizen that exists in Chile today? Does she truly think anyone believes her? #nosvemosel11

Others, like Lucas Alonso (@lucasxalonso) [es], ask themselves if the marches have any impact at all:

@lucasxalonso: Cuántas marchas faltan para que de verdad la clase política tome en serio al pueblo? #NosVemosEl11#YoMarcho

@lucasxalonso: How many marches are needed for the political class to take the people seriously? #NosVemosEl11#YoMarcho (#IMarch) [es]

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