First Wave of Protests

The 2011 student protests in Chile began gradually in May, and can be traced to the so-called "penguin revolution", or 2006 student protests in Chile. It is also important to note that the student protests began on the heels of other national protests, over the HidroAysén dam project and gas prices in Magallanes Province. The protests are commonly portrayed as a new social movement loosely based on Spain's 15-M Movement or even the Arab Spring.

The protests were triggered in part by the initiative of the then-Minister of Education Joaquín Lavín to increase government funding of non-traditional Universities. Although, officially nonprofit, some of these institutions were known to use legal loopholes to turn profits. Lavín had invested in several firms that render services to Universidad del Desarrollo.

According to students cited by El Mercurio on June 13, there were 100 schools being occupied by students as a form of protest, of which 80 were in the Santiago Metropolitan Region Sources differ; Chilean police listed on June 13 only 50 schools as occupied.

On June 30, there was a massive demonstration that mobilized between one hundred and two hundred thousand demonstrators.

The student protests have included several creative acts which received foreign media attention, such as flash mobs and kiss-ins.