Chile students clash with police at demo

The education committee in the lower house of Congress is due to vote on a new education bill on Tuesday, deciding whether to send it to the floor for debate.

Chile students clash with police at demo

World Bulletin / News Desk

Clashes erupted Tuesday as Chile's raucous student movement held its first protest of the year for free education, with students hurling stones and police firing tear gas.

Thousands of students flooded the streets of central Santiago, protesting an education reform bill they say does not go far enough in overhauling an expensive and unequal education system that dates to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

President Michelle Bachelet's landmark bill would expand access to free university education, with the number of beneficiaries based on Chile's economic growth in any given year.

That does not go far enough, say student protesters, who want free tuition with no strings attached.

Clashes erupted as the protest got under way. Rowdy groups of students, many wearing masks and dressed in black, threw stones at the heavy contingent of riot police standing guard.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse them. The protest then unfolded peacefully, but new clashes broke out at the end.

Bachelet won election in 2013 vowing sweeping reforms of the highly privatized education and pension systems.

But both projects have drawn violent protests in recent months.

With the leftist president's popularity dented by a lackluster economy and a series of corruption scandals, it is unclear whether she will manage to pass the reforms before elections in November to choose her successor.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Nisan 2017, 10:14