Thursday, 29 September 2011

Chilean police violently repress peaceful demonstration

Source: Prensa Latina, 29 September 2011.

Chilean police suppressed on Thursday a peaceful and massive march for free public education with tear gas and water cannon, which was denounced here by the leaders of the student.

"Police should have helped to guide or control the demonstration, but not repress it", said a spokeswoman for the Confederation of Students of Chile (CONFECH), Camila Vallejo. "We saw the police repressing all the demonstrators, not only those who threw a pebble", says Vallejo in statements on the march that ended Thursday in Santiago O'Higgins Park with an estimated 150,000 participants.

According to the press, a tear gas canister thrown by the police near the O'Higgins Park caused injuries to a five-year child.

However, the mayor of Santiago, Pablo Zalaquett, told the press that those calling for marches are responsible for the unrest. For the Chilean people, the police attack on the march, just within hours of the start of a dialogue between the government and social sectors, was quite shocking.

Ongoing Social Protests in Chile
Prensa Latina, 29 September 2011.

Primary health care workers and the Social Movement for Free and Public Education on Thursday will join together in a new day of anti-neoliberal protests around the country.

On Thursday, the students movement called for another national mobilization to oppose for-profit education, while being supported by dozens of social organizations including public health unions, which organized a 72-hour strike against privatizing the sector.

If the Social Movement is not mobilize, it will not be able to dialogue or do anything while holding a negotiating table with the government, said Camila Vallejo, president of the Chilean Students Federation (CONFECH).

According to CONFECH spokesman Giorgio Jackson, the negotiating table between the government and leaders of the Social Movement should not be seen as just a negotiating moment or photo opportunity, but as a way to channel citizen's demands.

Skepticism and distrust prevail among members of the CONFECH, in regard to a true government will to solve the conflict. The CONFECH, however, in spite of the government stance and discourse, maintains its willingness to dialogue while continuing further mobilizations.