Oppdateringer fra Chile
Studentdemonstrasjonene fortsetter i Chile. Her er noen nyhetsklipp om hva som skjer.
Chilean students protest after 'failed talks'
Al Jazeera. October 6, 2011
Thousands of students have marched in the streets of the Chilean capital after talks between their representatives and government officials failed to meet students' demands.
Several people, including reporters, were injured in Thursday's march after police tried to disperse the protesters in Santiago's Plaza Italia using water cannons and tear gas.
Camila Vallejo, the spokeswoman for leaders of students at 25 state universities, called the violence unprecedented, even after five months of confrontations between students and police.
The protest comes one day after a five-hour-long meeting with Felipe Bulnes, the education minister, in an attempt to put an end to the almost daily protests over education-related reforms.
But Vallejo said that government officials showed "no real willingness to build a free public education, of quality and democracy for everyone".
"They keep backing the same model where the market rules, where the funding goes to private universities first through subsidies, scholarships, vouchers, loans and more debts [for the students] and all that, we will not tolerate."
Bulnes, the education minister, said that the two sides "have made no major progress" because of disagreements on how much the government can do to provide free education for everyone.
He said the government would form a commission of experts to examine the issue.
Tensions were high even before the student leaders and government officials sat down, after Sebastian Pinera, the country's president, said he was sending a bill to Congress that would criminalise the students' protests.
The students say Chile's education system is profit-driven and provides poor instruction.
They say they want to make higher education more accessible with expanded scholarship programmes for poor students funded in part by higher taxes on the wealthy.
College costs in Chile are considered the most expensive in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States.
A student's family must contribute 85 per cent of university expenses, while the government provides 15 percent.
Only the poorest students get a nearly free education, through scholarships, grants and low-cost loans.
Pinera's government says it cannot afford to provide such support for all students.
But students claim that Pinera is doing a poor job of distributing wealth from a copper price boom.
Pinera, a billionaire businessman who has seen his approval ratings fall dramatically since the protests, had said he prioritised education in the next year's budget.
Student Movement Stirs Up Chile
Shalini Adnani. The Indypendent. October 5, 2011
Chile is widely touted as a Latin American economic miracle of with an annual growth rate of 5 percent, stable finances and an average per capita income of more than $15,000. Yet, its prosperity is belied by some of the highest income inequality in the region and a lack of social mobility.
From an early age, Chile’s students confront an education system that is deeply segregated by class in which government monies flow into privately run schools while public schools are starved for funds. To receive a university education, students from poor and working-class families have to go deep into debt to afford tuition, which can be as much as $20,000 per year – a figure inconceivable for the average Chilean.
It’s a scenario that would be familiar to many students in the U.S. But unlike their docile American counterparts, Chilean students are taking action to remake their education system.
Since protests began in May at the University of Chile, the student movement has carried out a nationwide strike in universities and high schools that now enters its fourth month. The movement’s largest protests have drawn hundreds of thousands of people. The students are garnering support from teachers, workers and families struggling to pay for their childrens’ education. Support for the students’ cause runs as high as 80 percent in public opinion polls.
The students have peacefully occupied high school and university campuses in provinces throughout the country, turning the buildings into communal spaces. When the takeovers (or, tomas as they are called in Chile) peaked in mid-August, students were occupying 500 high schools and 22 universities in the capital of Santiago alone. During these occupations, groups of students would remain inside schools around the clock, cook donated food, teach individual workshops, and organize activities on the campuses.
Theaters were converted into general assemblies and theater balconies served as a bedroom.
The students are using their creativity to emphasize the peaceful nature of the protests. Innovative demonstrations have included zombie dances of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (to underscore the neoliberal state’s zombie-like hold on their futures), two minutes of national lip-lock– El Besaton, or The Kissathon – to signify the love and passion inherent in the student movement, a month-long relay race around the Presidential Palace, and many more such actions.
After a similar strike by high school students peetered out in 2006, the election of rightwing billionaire President Sebastian Piñera in 2010 reanimated the student movement which insists that education is a social good that should be available to all.
University student demands include a new system of scholarships (not loans) to provide free education to poor and working class students, a more equitable admissions process to prestigious universities, the creations of a watchdog agency to prosecute universities using loopholes to earn profits and a repeal of laws forbidding student participation in university governance.
The high school students, more loosely organized, are pressing similar demands for more state funding as well as a moratorium on the creation of more publicly funded charter schools, an end to a system of local control of schools that leads to inequalities, as well as free access to public transportation.
More than confronting a highly privatized education system, the student movement has mounted the strongest challenge to Chile’s neoliberal order since it was imposed through a 1973 military coup that toppled the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende and left thousands of his supporters dead or in exile.
Democracy was formally restored in Chile in 1989 but the neoliberal framework developed during the dictatorship has been perpetuated by coalition governments of both the center-left and the center-right.
The government has responded to the student movement with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons while pro-government media outlets have unsuccessfully sought to write off student activists as “delinquents”. Violence erupted on August 5 when Chilean authorities prevented student demonstrators from entering downtown Santiago and on Aug. 25 when police shot and killed a 16-year-old student protester.
The younger generation that came of age after the dictatorship, does not have the fear of their parents’ generation and their actions have reawakened older Chileans who had despaired of ever seeing real change again in their country. The dream of the Allende years of a socially inclusive Chile has not vanished in spite of almost four decades of neoliberal social engineering.
“I am surprised…[but]…the movement confirms what I have been predicting and feeling for awhile ,” Chilean economist Gabriel Salazar told CNN Chile. “…This civil transition from the bottom is very different from a political transition from above.”
With support for the students running strong, Piñera has sought to co-opt the movement with half-measures such as a modest increase in scholarship money and slightly lower interest rates on student loans that don’t fundamentally change the education system. He has also sought to outwait the student movement by initiating negotiations that have gone nowhere.
Sustaining a high level of mobilization over many months is difficult and students face losing a whole school year as the strike drags on. Police have begun to dislodge students from many of the occupied schools, and the government has extended the end of the school year from December to March and threatened to revoke the scholarships of students who do not finish their classes. This has created divisions within the movement as some students have much more to lose than others by continuing the strike.
Still, the student movement continues to organize large protests and enjoys the support of the majority of the population. Whether it can force the political class to reorient the education system to meet human needs instead of market imperatives remains to be decided – both on the campuses and in the streets.
Shalini Adnani is a freelance journalist based in Santiago, Chile.
Chilean court overturns ban on giant Patagonia dam
AFP. October 6, 2011
SANTIAGO — A Chilean court on Thursday overturned a three-month suspension of a project to build a giant hydroelectric dam complex in the Patagonian wilderness, which environmentalists say will destroy a unique habitat.
Green campaigners plan to challenge an appeals court decision made in the southern port city of Puerto Montt in favor of the project, which aims to generate 2,750 megawatts of power.
The 2.9 billion dollar HidroAysen project, which belongs to Spanish-Chilean consortium Endesa-Colburn, has sparked huge and sometimes violent protests since a government commission approved it in May.
It involves building five dams in two river valleys in Patagonia, and the flooding of 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of pristine, largely uninhabited land in a quest to generate more electric power for Chile's booming economy.
Thursday's decision overturned a ruling in June to halt the project for three months to consider objections from opponents.
The government of President Sebastian Pinera argues the country needs the project -- which will increase Chile's power capacity by 20 percent -- to keep pace with energy demands and to head off looming shortages.
But those against say it will disfigure one of the last virgin territories on the planet, with forests and glaciers and lakes beloved by nature lovers the world over.
Prior to Thursday's ruling opponents said they would take their case to the Supreme Court or even the International Court of Human Rights if the decision went against them.
A lawyer for a consortium of opponents of the project, Marcelo Castillo, was quoted in Chilean media Thursday as saying he was confident in legal arguments that would be put before the Supreme Court.
The Pascua and Baker rivers, where the dams are planned to be built, are the largest in Chile, with crystaline waters fed by thousand-year old glaciers.
The project also includes construction of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of high-tension transmission lines and pylons that will carry electricity across nine regions of the South American country.
The project will need more than 5,000 workers who will be living in the remote area of Aysen for more than 10 years, effectively doubling the population of the region.