SANTIAGO – Scores of Chilean high school and university students entered La Moneda presidential palace on Tuesday to stage a protest in favor of free, high-quality public education.
Interior Minister Jorge Burgos had little time for the protesters and announced that measures will be taken to improve security at La Moneda, the seat of government.
The young people, members of the Coordinating Assembly of High School Students and of university organizations, pretended to be a tourist delegation visiting the palace in order to get inside.
Once in the palace they started shouting slogans and waving banners against the educational reform being readied by the government.
“Get with it. The offensive begins today. You have failed,” said one of the signs.
Police reacted and forced the youths out of the presidential palace and into the Plaza de la Constitution, where they continued their protest.
A score of students were arrested while being removed from La Moneda, whose doors were then closed to the public.
“We came to tell the president (Michelle Bachelet) to her face, so she doesn’t find out about it in the press, that they have failed,” student spokesman Diego Arraño told reporters.
The interior minister said that “what happened is not good and obviously certain measures must be taken.”
The action followed a demonstration by students from several elite high schools in Santiago who are not happy about the educational reform that Bachelet is promoting.
Less than two weeks ago, some 80,000 students took part in a march in Santiago to demand a thorough overhaul of an educational system still marked by the legacy of the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.