Pot-banging protests set the background music to a military parade
Despite the widespread police forces deployed during the military parade in the Parque O’Higgins, hundreds of people protested by banging pots near the traditional military exhibition. That same morning a counter military parade took place. Students have announced a protest for this Thursday and call for flags to be hoisted in support of their requests.
The event was chaired by Sebastián Piñera and, despite the distance separating him from the protesters and their inability to reach the Elipse esplanade, they still made themselves heard by the authorities and the foreign delegations present at the event. Piñera described the military exhibition, with over 8,000 troops taking part, as “prefect”.
Protesters displayed a banner at around 3.30pm, soon after the start of the troop inspection.
It is also worth noting that few people attended the parade, with many of the seats set up by the organisers being left empty.
Counter Military Parade
The fourth Counter Military Parade was held on the morning of Monday 19 September and where participants marched dressed as clowns in a military uniform.
This event began shortly before noon in front of the Mapocho Station. It was convened by the Nonviolent Direct Action Brigades (Bria Di Novi), the Campaign for Evolution (CPE), the AEEA (Chilean Art Students Assembly), the Nonviolence School and the Nonviolent Social Network.
According to statements made by the organisers to Radio Cooperativa, the initiative “is not intended to be a mockery of the men and women who make up military life, but seeks to force thought about the irrationality of war, the values promoted by any army in the world and, in particular, the unfounded preponderance of the Armed Forces in Chile, a long-forgotten debate in our country”.
Four months of protests
Citizen unrest increased after the controversial statement made by the Education Minister, Felipe Bulnes, who said that around 70,000 students must retake the year for failing to follow a governmental programme known as “Let’s save the year”.
The Santiago city councillor, Ismael Calderón, informed that neither Mayor Pablo Zalaquett, nor Minister Bulnes have the power to decide who retakes the year.
Calderón explained that under Decree No. 83 of 2001 each school community with its faculty council will study the cases of students who do not meet the standards to pass the year. “These irresponsible statements, by Mayor Zalaquett or by Minister Bulnes, only seek to continue threatening the youth mobilised and their families” – added the city councillor.
An estimated 11,000 students didn’t enrol in the Let’s Save the Year program, a categorical failure for the government.
Moreover, teachers and students defined the Presidency’s stance as menacing and said that it only searches to weaken the social movement that advocates for a free high-quality public education.
Rodrigo Rivera, spokesperson for the Secondary School Students National Coordinator, said to international agencies that many families cannot afford to pay for an extra school year, but that many students are willing to lose the year and continue with the struggle for deep structural changes in the education system.
The Confech has called for a new day of mobilisation this Thursday.
Camila Vellejo, Fech Presdient (University of Chile Student Federation), and Giorgio Jackson from the Feuc (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Student Federation) tweeted the following message: “Let’s keep our flags raised until Friday to retrieve the right to education for our country”.