SANTIAGO, CHILE, May 28 — For the third successive week, high school and college students have militantly protested a new law which could privatize public education. Students demonstrated on May Day and then again on May 16 (Day of the Fighting Youth) when students took over several colleges and high schools immediately after “socialist” President Michelle Bachelet gave a national speech on education. In one school students hung a banner reading, “If education is a merchandise, students must be rebels.”
Today, the “carabineros” (riot cops) brutally repressed a planned student march, attacking several thousand gathered in Santiago preparing to march to the Ministry of Education. The cops said they “had no march permit.” Some 337 students were arrested battling the vicious police attack. Over 600 were arrested nationwide during this day of protest. The cops beat students viciously as they were being loaded into police vans.
The government’s proposed General Education Law offers some crumbs like computers and a few scholarships, but each municipality would control education, opening the door to privatization. Students say they want free public education like their parents received, not a few computers or scholarships.
Chilean youth, like youth worldwide today, had a reputation of being non-political, but the reality of a local and international capitalist system bent on making workers and youth pay for its crises and wars, is impelling young people to realize they must fight for their interests.
Education under capitalism, whether free or privatized, is based on promoting bourgeois ideology and building the next generation of exploited workers the bosses need. The best education these youth can acquire is in the class struggle against capitalism and its stooges.