Sunday, October 09, 2011

UC Chile

An article from The Guardian profiles one of the leaders of the student protests in Chile. From "Camila Vallejo – Latin America's 23-year-old new revolutionary folk hero":
Vallejo "focused on what she sees as the positive achievements thus far. 'For years, Chilean youth have been consumed by a neo-liberal model that highlights personal achievement and consumerism; it is all about mine, mine, mine. There is not a lot of empathy for the other... This movement has achieved just the opposite. The youth has taken control… and revived and dignified politics. This comes hand in hand with the questioning of worn-out political models – all they have done is govern for big business and powerful economic groups." ...
Throughout the six-month revolt, Chilean students – in many cases led by 14- and 15-year-olds – have seized the streets of Santiago and major cities, provoking and challenging the status quo with their demand for a massive restructuring of the nation's for-profit higher education industry. In support of their demands for free university education, since May they have organised 37 marches, which have gathered upwards of 200,000 students at a time ...
What began as a quiet plea for improvements in public education has now erupted into a wholescale rejection of the Chilean political elite. More than 100 high schools nationwide have been seized by students and a dozen universities shut down by protests.
Hey, maybe the UC system could serve as a model for public education. Oh wait, that could happen only if we stop gutting this world-class model of higher education. Get it together, California! I'm also a little bit worried by these "takeovers" of schools. If not controlled, this kind of action might smack of the Cultural Revolution. One major difference is that Chile is a democracy with constitutional protections for citizens. Given the repression of the Pinochet regime and the non-violent movement that rose to overthrow it, the populace cares about concepts like liberty and the protection of human rights. That should be a major bulwark against unfounded attacks.


No comments: