Chilean Students Lock Lips for Love of Schools

Months of creative demonstrations have given way to uproar over mass arrests of protestors. But from the start, young people have tried to channel more than anger to dramatize their demands.

By Julianne Hing Aug 05, 2011

In Chile, months of student demonstrations across the country have given way to mass protests in the capital of Santiago. Nearly 900 protesters have been arrested today in the crackdown against the demonstrations, the New York Times reported.

Tens of thousands of the nation’s high school and college students have been demonstrating for two months against a higher education system that was largely privatized under General Pinochet and since left students in serious debt. Students have called on President Sebastián Piñera to support reforms promising high-quality and free compulsory education and an overhaul of the university system.

But in Chile, protests are not limited to walkouts and marches and hunger strikes, though there have been plenty of those too. The New York Times reports that at any one time two to three protesters can be seen jogging outside the presidential palace. They’re attempting to reach 1,800 laps to symbolize the $1.8 billion that they want the country to invest in the education system. They have dressed up as superheroes and choreographed dance routines. They’ve staged collective suicides, with lines of people collapsing into the streets at once.

They’ve also staged kiss-ins. Protesters have paired off and started kissing marathons, smooching in the streets to bring attention to their cause.

"I think it’s a beautiful way to protest," one woman told Reuters last month. "I think it’s better to see these young people, you know, us, protesting in such a simple way, with a kiss."

Today’s protests ended with a more traditional demonstration. In a throwback to the days of the Pinochet era, student organizers called on supporters to take to the streets to bang pots and pans to challenge the arrests, the Guardian reported. It was used as a call to protest decades ago, and tonight was revived in the streets of Santiago.


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