Tag Archives: Chilean Student Protest

The Winter Chilean Students Said, Enough!

By Eduardo Silva 

Over the past 20 years, Chile earned a reputation as a case of successful transition to democracy and market economy; the very image of a prosperous, orderly country in which institutions channel and contain conflict.  Political leaders decoupled their parties from social organizations, foreswore mass mobilization as a political instrument, and, where the public is concerned, primarily used parties to get voters to the election booth.  In the Chilean collective psyche, pundits assert, mass demonstrations are overwhelmingly associated with political destabilization and the breakdown of democracy – chaos.  To be sure, diminished labor unions, environmental activists, indigenous peoples, and students occasionally mounted protests.  But these were usually small, isolated, easily controlled, occasionally channeled back into institutionalized politics, and soon forgotten.  In this context, the cycle of massive student demonstrations that gripped Chile from June to December 2011 marked a distinctive change in the characteristics and relative importance of student protests in that country.[i]

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