1 Yesterday's Demonstration in Santiago 50,000 students and teachers marched through the streets of Santiago, Chile's capital yesterday The march was part of the students' and teachers' ongoing campaign for an end to neo-liberal education policies in that country. Security forces used water cannon, tear gas and beatings to force the demonstrators off the main road and onto side streets. Official reports say 273 demonstrators have been arrested. As teachersolidarity reported earlier this week the students are demanding a truly free education service. Students in Chilean universities often face poor quality courses in the plethora of privatised universities and high fees as a result of the neo-liberal education and economic project which was initiated under the dictator Pinochet in the 1970s and is still in force. Sebastian Pinera, Chile's Preisdent is a business magnate who is determined to keep Chile as a safe haven for foreign investment. Multinational companies are making massive profits from the country - especially from the copper mines - but the vast majority of people are poor with 60% having similar incomes to those of the poor in sub saharan Africa.As one 18 year old student demonstrating in Santiago told the press: "What hasn't Piñera done badly? Piñera represents the people from the rich neighborhoods. We're fighting for our parents, ... who can't make ends meet." According to academic Victor Figeuora-Clark: " Discontent with education is the tip of an iceberg of frustration with a system that was initially imposed by force, and was maintained for years by a combination of fear of the military’s return, consumerism driven by debt, and government subsidies of the poorest. The 2006 mobilisations were the first sign that the Chilean people was losing its patience with the legacy of the dictatorship, and with those that administered it." To read his excellent analyisis in full go to: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/ideas/2011/08/the-meaning-behind-protests-in-chile/ For other background see previous posts on this site. There have been demonstrations in other main cities in Chile and on August 12th there is a coordinated day of action across Latin America for public education.