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Tensions Build As National Protest Approaches

Tensions build as national standstill approaches. Photo: Mark Teiwes

By Mariana Zepeda on June 26, 2012.

SANTIAGO — Tensions are building around the national protest called for Thursday June 28 by the Confech (Confederation of Chilean Students). Both professors and workers confirmed their attendance at the protests, while students demand that school officials remove the constraints on their participation in the demonstration. Additionally, tension in the political arena is building as Minister of Education Harold Beyer refuses to tackle educational profiteering investigations head on.

The Professors’ School of Chile announced that they would join their students on Thursday for the protest, which will begin at Plaza Italia. Jaime Gajardo, President of the Professors’ School declared today that their participation in the movement was decided in a National Assembly for Professors held last Friday.

Arturo Martinez, the President of the Workers United Center in Chile confirmed the union’s active support for the student movement and participation in the demonstrations as well.

In preparation for Thursday’s demonstrations, students took over the “Alcántara Cordillera” school in La Florida to demand that the school allow them to participate in the demonstrations without missing out on their education.

The president of the student government, Javiera Parraguez, announced, “On days of strikes, we want to be able to leave school at 9:30 a.m. We also want exams that are planned for those dates to be rescheduled, and new teaching material to be delayed.”

Parraguez added that in her school about 30 students wish to participate in the movement.

The situation angered members of the school administration and other students who arrived at school to find that it was taken over by some high school students. One member of the school’s administration stated that she was growing tired of school takeovers.

“They affect the younger students,” she said.

Mario Venegas, representative of the Christian Democratic Party and member of the Commission for the Investigation of Educational Profiteering, publicly repudiated Beyer’s perceived disregard for the urgency of the issue. Venegas complained that Beyer had canceled a meeting with the commission and had not read the almost 400 page report the commission had meticulously put together.

Thursday’s protest promises to bring back the revolutionary fervor that characterized the beginning of the movement for education reform, which marks its one-year anniversary on this date.