122 arrested in secondary school raids in Chile
Police in Chile have arrested more than 122 pupils in a police raid of secondary schools that had been taken over by their students for months as part of a protest against the Chilean education system.
On Friday morning, Chile’s uniformed police force – known as Carabineros – arrived at 20 Santiago high schools occupied by students to clear out the buildings for voting in Sunday’s presidential elections.
In Chile, the electoral law states that the armed forces must take control of all polling places at least 48 hours before an election.
On Thursday morning, between 7 and 8 a.m. – 24 hours before the legal deadline – the Interior Ministry authorized Carabineros to enter the “high schools in toma” in order to clear out the polling places.
According to an official report, the students clashed with the police at several schools and initially refused to leave the premises forcing the Carabineros to arrest them.
A total of 151 pupils, many of them teenagers, have been arrested.
10 police officers have been injured after violence erupted when masked youth started to throw stones and molotov cocktails at security forces who then responded with tear gas and water cannons.
The raids came after a day and night of violence in Santiago.
For more than six months several students have been in “toma” – a campaign for educational reform, which is one of the biggest protest movements Chile has seen since the return to democracy in 1990.
Although Chile’s education system is regarded as one of the best in Latin America, students argue that pupils from lower income families do not have access to the best schooling in the region and have to attend underfunded state schools.