May 25, 2013
Chilean Students Take to the Streets
Posted on Aug 7, 2011
Young Americans may lie sedate while insatiable corporatists ride roughshod over their futures, but not their South American counterparts. Animated by a growing student debt, young Chileans are opposing the longstanding privatization of their university system with hunger strikes, sit-ins, kiss-ins and playful costumed dances that have drawn crowds of up to 100,000. The protests have helped plunge slow-moving President Sebastian Pinera’s popularity to its lowest level since he assumed office last year.
The protesters are demanding constitutional changes that guarantee free education from preschool through high school and a quality, equal-access state-funded university system. Hundreds have been arrested, and leaders of the movement have refused to accept the government’s watered-down attempts at placation.
The leaders of these demonstrations are clever to hold kiss-ins and flash dances. Crowd control theory and technology became much more sophisticated following events in the 1960s that prompted governments to spend vast amounts to determine how best to control protesters. As Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges has made clear, states will respond to violent dissent with the full force of their new weaponry, which includes tranquilizing chemicals, taser-armed Roomba Corp. robots and, of course, aerial drones. Public demonstrations must be nonviolent; government attacks on peaceful protesters are more likely to be portrayed in the media as official brutality instead of justifiable defense against rock-throwing youths, so easily demonized.
The young Chileans have devised a means of protest that will make it extremely costly to the politicians, policemen, soldiers and other goons intent on harming demonstrators, and all revolutionaries should be aware of these developments. —ARK
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