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In Chile, the average monthly minimum wage is $385, while the average monthly college tuition costs $485. Upon graduating, Chilean students are on average saddled with $40,000 in debt.
But Chilean students are no longer willing to accept this state of affairs, and have taken over university campuses demanding accessible education for all of the country’s students. The students argue that the country has the resources to provide free public education for all Chileans, if only some of policies of neoliberal privatization begun under dictator Augusto Pinochet are reversed. High school and university students have taken to the streets, refusing to resume classes until the Ministry of Education approves the system of systematic changes that the Student’s Federation is demanding. Despite their radicalized movement, and a dangerous hunger strike by more than thirty students, President Sebastián Piñera has refused to meet their demands, saying that, “nothing is free in this life.”
Brittany Peterson, a freelance multimedia journalist currently based in Antofagasta, Chile, reports on the latest developments in the protests.