On the 8th of January the government of Chile announced that it will prosecute 34 leaders of secondary students’ organizations under the State’s Security Law, after they succeeded in boycotting nationwide the integrated system of tests for university admission (PSU). This law, which substantially aggravates the sentences for which would be otherwise only minor offenses, has been historically used by the Chilean state to intimidate and silence popular protests. In case the legal action prevails, the student leaders risk up to 3 years of imprisonment.
The PSU has been broadly criticized by broad sections of the Chilean society as responsible for reproducing and amplifying the inequalities of an educational system progressively privatized, depriving thousands of working-class young people from studying at universities. In Chile, although 35% of the secondary students graduate from public schools, only 10% achieve a score that grant them access to the most demanded degrees, and 43% don’t even manage to get the minimum score to apply to any degree. On the other side, 95% private school’s students (who represent less than 10% of the whole), achieve this minimum score, and have almost secure chances of getting into a university.
For this reason, secondary students organized a successful mass boycott of the PSU exams on January 6 and 7 this year. Despite police repression, they carried out successful collective action to prevent the exams from taking place. There were demonstrations outside the examination centers, in some places students blocked access to the centers, burnt examination papers, etc.
This is yet another example of the extreme inequities that scourge the Chilean working class and that sparked a huge wave of manifestations over the last three months. The only answer from a government on the ropes has been fierce police and military repression, and the application of a heavy legal hand against any who dares to defy its authority, including school students who started the social unrest through a mass fare-dodging of the underground ticket in October last year.
As Marxists Students we send our support and solidarity to our Chilean student comrades and their organisation ACES, who are bravely spearheading the struggle for radical structural changes in one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Messages of solidarity and support to https://twitter.com/AcesChile