Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addresses the National Congress today in Valparaiso, where thousands of protesters from the National Confederation of
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addresses the National Congress today in Valparaiso, where thousands of protesters from the National Confederation of Students of Chile (Confech) will demand action against, among other things, sexual harassment and assault in the country’s universities.
The demonstration comes after an earlier round of Confech protests on April 19 that targeted profiteering in the education system after the Supreme Court removed a ban on for-profit universities. This rally drew 120,000 participants in Santiago.
In 2011, during \Pinera’s first term as president, protests against for-profit tertiary education rocked the South American nation, tanking the president’s approval rating. Thus, the president will aim to quickly appease the easily-mobilised Confech.
With a women’s strike planned for June 6, \Pinera must act immediately, responding to protesters with an executive mandate addressing sexual assaults and gender discrimination nationwide and in the education system. The president could also work to realise his promise for educational affordability, which would satisfy another of Confech’s grievances. Without swift action, though, Chile’s student protests will only grow and could turn violent, as happened in 2011.