4. The student revolution

Abstract

Latin American students have organized some of the largest mass mobilizations in the region’s recent history, calling for a free, universal system of high-quality education, from primary school to university. The students see this as key to ending the reproduction of inequality that continues to plague their societies.

The Chilean movement has been particularly strong and has influenced others in Brazil and elsewhere. Meanwhile, a new popular university in Honduras aims to equip students with the skills traditional education in the country fails to provide.

Index

News related to this chapter

© Luis Bustamente

A year of Chile’s estallido social in pictures

0
Luis Bustamante's images of Chile's estallido social - which began on October 18, 2019, now a whole year ago - speak for themselves. Most were taken of protesters in Santiago around Plaza Baquedano, renamed by protestors as Plaza de la Diginidad. Others cover graffiti and stencil work that popped up during this period, taken in a range of Chilean cities.

Guatemala: the void left by empty classrooms

1
Sunset over Guatemala City marks another day of widening inequality and increasing despair as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. With the country’s informal economy taking a huge hit in an already inequitable society, citizens have been taking to the streets waving white flags in a show of desperation and hunger. As The Guardian has reported, nearly 70 per cent of Guatemalans earn a living in the ‘unregulated informal economy’, surviving precariously from hand to mouth. Indeed, international media outlets have largely picked up on the visible, immediate effects the virus is having on...

An open and shut case – schools and Covid-19

0
‘What’s that huge queue for?’ I asked my friend. He simply shrugged his shoulders as we stared at the seemingly endless line of people, circling round the block. The streets were practically empty and unusually quiet, aside from this mammoth queue of women, all standing two metres apart. Then it clicked. This wasn’t a Covid-19 testing centre as I had originally thought. No, these people were queuing for food packages for their children, being distributed by a local school. The queuing mothers seemed a little nervous but generally relaxed. After all, they have...

Chile’s long, hot summer of discontent

0
It’s 11 January 2020, and I am sitting on a hot and unforgiving cement esplanade, at the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Chile’s national Memory and Human Rights Museum. The mood is generally good natured, but somewhat restive: in between the official acts and speeches, the crowd spontaneously breaks into chants. These compare right-wing president Sebastián Piñera – whose approval ratings currently stand at an all-time low of only 6 per cent – to Pinochet, and unflatteringly accuse the police of being ‘lackeys of the state’ (although their language is more graphic).

Chile: students in Talca explain why they back the protests

0
On the 18th of October 2019, mass fare dodging in Santiago de Chile expanded into city-wide protests and violence. Initially in response to a transport price hike, the situation subsequently developed into a nation-wide movement against Chile’s stark inequality issues. Amongst the cities where protests and marches are in full swing is Talca, where students of the University of Talca have voted this week to extend the shutdown indefinitely.  Talca on the map Talca is the capital of Maule province, located in Central Chile approximately 3 hours south of the country’s capital, and one...

Videos

History of student protest

0
The Night of the Pencils. Video: Aries Films, Argentina. Director: Hector Olivera

The Popular University of Honduras

0
Interview with Franco Lagos. In 2015 a group of Honduran researchers and activists founded the Clementina Suárez Popular University. This was the...

The Penguin Revolution, Chile, 2006

1
A documentary about María Jesús Sanhueza, one of the leaders of the 2006 secondary school student protests in Chile, known (for their...

Chile: the Great National Agreement for Education

0
The President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, spoke to the country via a nationwide radio and TV link-up to make important announcements...

Inside Chile’s student movement: interview with Giorgio Jackson

0
The Center for Latin American Studies and the Berkeley Law School present a talk with Giorgio Jackson, one of the leaders...

About the Author

Emily Gregg has written blogs for LAB on the Colombian Peace Process and the legacy of El Salvador’s 1992 peace accords.

She is now studying for an MSc in the history of international relations at the London School of Economics with a focus on human rights and Latin America.

Interviewees

Valérie Abad (Universidad Católica): interviewed via Google Hangouts on 27 January 2018 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Matty Rose.

Marcelo Correa (CONES): interviewed in Santiago de Chile on 22 November 2016 by Nina Meghji. Transcribed by Nina Meghji.

Giorgio Jackson (former student leader, now congressional deputy and leader of Revolución Democrática party): interviewed in Santiago de Chile on 6 December 2011 by Roberto Navarrete (http://www.alboradafilms.net/). Translated by Rowan Ritchie.

Camila Lanes (UBES): interviewed in São Paulo on 13 December 2016 by Ali Rocha. Translated by Matty Rose.

Pavel Núñez (Universidad Clementina Suárez): interviewed in Tegucigalpa on 24 October and 2 November 2016 by Louise Morris. Translated by Louise Morris.

References

NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

Alvarez Parra, N. (2011) ‘Camila Vallejo: “Es más de lo mismo pero con unos pesos más”’, La Tercera, 5 July

Arsht, A. and Sanchez Zinny, G. (2014) ‘Chile’s education system is the best in Latin America – so why is it being overhauled?’, Atlantic Council

Benedikter, R. and Zlosilo, M. (2017) ‘Chile’s 2017 presidential election: evaluating the second Bachelet government’, LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre

Comisión Nacional sobre Prisión Política y Tortura (2005) Informe de la Comisión Nacional sobre Prisión Política y Tortura, Ministerio del Interior, Chile

Cultura Argentina (2015) El Nunca más y los crímenes de la dictadura, Ministerio de Cultura, Argentina

Duriez, M., López, V. and Moncada, G. (2016) Informe Nacional: Honduras, Educación Superior en Iberoamérica, CINDA

Franklin, J. (2006) ‘Protests paralyse Chile’s education system’, The Guardian, 7 June

Llanos del Corral, M. (no date) ‘Ways of Doing Development Differently: Methodologies for Adaptive & Systemic Development’ Plymouth University

Long, G. (2011) ‘Chile student protests point to deep discontent’, BBC News

Palhares, I. and Toledo, L.F. (2016) ‘Estudo aponta ‘reorganização velada’ no Estado de São Paulo’, O Estado de S. Paulo, 28 June

Pensado, J. (2012) ‘Student activism’, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America

Santana, A. (2016) ‘Escola sem Partido: entenda o que é movimento que divide opiniões na Educação’, EBC

Stromquist, N.P. and Sanyal, A. (2013) ‘Student resistance to neoliberalism in Chile’, International Studies in Sociology of Education 23(2): 152–78

Further reading

General

Campaña Latino-Americana por el derecho a la Educación

History of student protest and repression in Latin America

Brazil

Máfia da Merenda/Primavera Secundarista/Escola sem Partido

Chile

The Chicago Boys/voucher school system

The Pingüinazo

The Chilean Winter

The Frente Amplio

Honduras

Universidad Clementina Suárez