Initial Demonstrations

Following the announcement on April 24 of a new increase in fees for the PSU (up to $28,000 Chilean Pesos or around US$50) and the rumored introduction of a new restriction in the students's transport pass (Pase Escolar) that would limit reduced bus fares to only two travels per day, several public schools in Santiago organized demonstrations in the Alameda Avenue (Santiago's main street) demanding gratuity for transport passes, bus fares and university admissions tests. These demonstrations ended in some outbursts of violence -- the Carabineros (the uniformed police) subsequently arrested 47 secondary students on April 26.

In the following days, new demonstrations took place without the permission of the regional authority. Despite the Ministry of Education acceding to minor demands, the students were left unsatisfied.

On May Day, secondary students of Santiago took part in a massive demonstration on Parque Almagro, near downtown Santiago. Violence again erupted and 1,024 students were arrested by the police in Santiago as well as in other cities throughout the country. The violence was consequently condemned by the Government.

Nothing justifies violence, violence is not the way and the government backs the actions of the police. The students have accomplished nothing
-- Felipe Harboe, Deputy Minister of Interior, May 10, 2006