Laura Clarke is an International Relations graduate living in London. She enjoys writing, talking and, thankfully, quite likes rain too.
Camila Vallejo: Chile’s Rebel With A Cause
Civil Rights – A poll conducted by British newspaper The Guardian has voted Camila Vallejo, President of the University of Chile Student Federation, Person of the Year 2011. The 23-year-old has been instrumental to the Chilean student protests, many of which involved massive flash mobs, colorful costumes, and even a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance. Videos from the protests went viral over the internet and YouTube last year, thrusting Chile into the media spotlight and making the Chilean fight for free education a global talking-point.
The protests have seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets to demand improvements to public education and have been met with a violence that harks back to the repression of the Pinochet-era. “The police tortured many students during the protests and continue to do so. It is a systematic repression. I’m not just talking about what happened this past year – just the other day, a march was brutally repressed,” Vallejo stated in the Guardian. With an estimated 70% of the Chilean population on the side of the students, the violence could be explained as a resort to the historically effective tool of mass repression. What this says of the Chilean regime and its distance from Pinochet-style politics is not positive.
Vallejo has succeeded in mobilizing a generation. It is something that can be witnessed sporadically elsewhere in the world, not least with the student protests in the UK. The Chilean students are not, however, simply questioning a policy or law, they are challenging a system. “This year the people woke up. Lost their fears. Questioned the model,” Vallejo concluded. There is a lesson to be learnt from the Chilean students – one of non-complacency and the need to question, not only policy, but the system that creates it.
Read more at: The Guardian.