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Ear to the Ground

Student Leader Elected to Chilean Congress

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Posted on Nov 18, 2013
Eneas (CC BY 2.0)

Camila Vallejo.

Camila Vallejo, a 25-year-old communist who helped lead Chile’s 2011 student uprising, was elected to the country’s legislature along with three other former university leaders in an event Reuters says underscores “a generational shift in the country’s politics.”

The protests sought free and improved education in a nation suffering the worst income distribution among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 34 states and threatened the government of President Sebastian Pinera. They helped shaped the 2013 elections by making way for former President Michelle Bachelet to run for another term on a platform that includes tax reforms to finance an overhaul of education. Bachelet currently leads the first round of voting.

Some of the younger generation see the elected student leaders as sellouts. “I wouldn’t vote for [independent candidate] Giorgio Jackson … for Camila Vallejo neither,” said Melissa Sepulveda, the new head of the Universidad de Chile’s student body, a position once held by Vallejo. “The possibility for change isn’t in Congress.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Reuters via The Guardian:

Vallejo’s victory is key for the presidential frontrunner Michelle Bachelet’s attempt to have her Nueva Mayoria coalition gain a stronger foothold in both houses of Congress.

“We’re going to celebrate our triumph on the streets of La Florida,” Vallejo said on Twitter, referring to a district in Santiago.

Bachelet, who held Chile’s highest office from 2006 to 2010, was the clear winner in the Andean country’s presidential election on Sunday, although she will have to go through a second-round runoff next month to seal her victory.

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