In part one of our four part Student Voice feature, in partnership with Chilenxs en Manchester, Javier von Marées explains the history behind the ongoing civil protests in Chile.
Chile’s current rebellion can be strongly linked to student organisations and resistance over the past 30 or more years.
Today’s uprising attempts to oppose the neoliberal system that started during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1973 and which, so far, has commodified every aspect of our social welfare.
In that period, the students and workers unions were prosecuted and disbanded to avoid any resistance to his rule. However, during the last years of the regime, students started to organise again and march in protest for the return of democracy.
During 2001 they protested against the privatised scholar transportation passes and achieved the implementation of a public universal student pass. In 2006 a big revolution was sparked by secondary students, seizing thousands of school throughout the country demanding a change on the education law and improvements on the quality of public schools.
Education had become a consumer good, where profit was tacitly allowed, and the financial system had captured thousands of students and their indebted families, backed-up by the State.
This same generation organised themselves once more in 2011, leading one of the largest university and school strikes in the history of Chile.
Media attention and massive demonstrations sparked public debate on private providers profiting from several social rights, such as education, health, and pensions. Many presidential candidates acknowledged the student demands and made them part of their agenda.
In 2018 massive feminist strikes organised in universities exposed the systematic abuses, harassment and unfair treatment towards women, also taking over hundreds of educational establishments.
Today, subway evasions by secondary students have ignited the massive protests against abuses of the elite and a neoliberal system that has systematically commoditised our civil rights for decades.
Don’t sleep in front of abuse and self-serving individuals. Fight for the future, stay awake. Chile has woken up and the world is waking up.
Written by Javier von Marées, graduate from MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship UoM and member of Chilenxs en Manchester – a group of Chilean students at the University of Manchester and Chilean Manchester residents.