Education International
Education International

Latin America stands in solidarity with Chile

published 8 September 2011 updated 14 September 2011

EI’s Regional Office in Latin America called on teacher unionists across the continent to assemble in front of Chilean embassies on 8 September in solidarity with the country’s people who are engaged in an ongoing battle for quality public education.

Education unions wanted to show their contempt for heavy-handed police repression that has been exerted on peaceful demonstrators and has resulted in the death of one person.

Manuel Gutiérrez, 16, was pushing his brother’s wheelchair through Chile’s capital, Santiago, when police opened fire against demonstrators taking part in a national strike on 25 August. Gutiérrez suffered a gunshot wound in the chest which killed him.

The demonstrations, which have beset the country for many months, have resulted in thousands of protestors being injured and more than 800 being detained, including many minors.

In a public statement the EI affiliate, Colegio de Profesores de Chile (CPC), said: “When the only form of dialogue is repression, it is not possible to progress with agreements.”

CPC, along with Chile’s student federations, recently proposed a Social agreement for education, demanding an end to profit in education, with specific measures such as decentralisation without privatisation and financing for higher education. However, the proposal was rejected by the Chile’s President Rafael Piñera.

CPC President, Jaime Gajardo, stated: “At the core of civil society’s demands there is a debate not only for a profound reform of the Chilean education system, but also for a reform of the whole economic model.”

Gajardo announced the ‘Abrazo Trasandino’ ("Andean hug")meeting, taking place on 08 September at Paso Los Libertadores, Chile’s border with Argentina, where teachers of both countries signed a symbolic agreement for public education.

EI stands in solidarity with Chile’s education unions and insists that education is a fundamental right that should not be regarded as a commodity or thrown open to the market.