Thousands of protesters filed through the center of the Chilean capital of Santiago on Thursday during a mass student march, clashing with police. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested.
Officials believe some 18,000 demonstrators took part in the march, which was organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH) and two secondary school student groups, Aces and Cones. The demonstration resulted in 34 arrests while 14 police officers were said to be hurt, according to La Tercera.
Students in Chile are demanding reforms be made to the country’s public education system. Among other things, they are fighting to be given a greater role in the decision making process in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on November 17.
Education has become a key electoral issue for political candidates in Chile, following a spate of mass protests that led President SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era into the lowest approval ratings since the end of General Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.
Protesters are demanding that the country’s government hand control of the largely privatized universities back to the state and make education free.
Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s former president and the current front-runner in the upcoming elections, has already indicated that she would pursue policies to meet some of the protesters’ demands, including free university education.