Mass kissings in Santiago and around the world demonstrate students passion for education reform.
This afternoon hundreds gathered in the Santiago’s Plaza de Armas, on the steps of the cities greatest cathedral. The plaza was originally designed as an assembly point for citizens in times of strife but today it hosted an entirely different gathering.
At 17:00 university and high school students locked their partners into a passionate embrace that lasted 30 minutes.
Dubbed the Besatón Mundial por la Educación – or kiss-a-thon world cup for education – the event was announced last week by student leader Camila Vallejo on her twitter account. It was one of a new wave of creative and peaceful protests that have characterized this movement, as students try to distance themselves from the images of vandalism and conflict that have marred some of their larger protests.
Photos of the Event
The besatón’s 1,800 second duration was symbolic of the amount in millions that students say would be required to fund a free education system per annum.
It is a figure that has been prominent in student protests. In perhaps the most high profile, students ran the Chilean flag around the presidential palace – La Moneda– for 1,800 consecutive hours, or 75 days. Another social media based campaign is the ‘1,800 drawings for the education,’ a site on which a selection of the work of artists and designers is hosted.
It was the second besatón so far, the first of which was held on the 6th of July.
Chile’s Students Going Global
As well as being held in other cities all over Chile, the event had offshoots in countries throughout Latin America and Europe.
The global campaign – organized on Facebook – is part of an effort by Chilean students to raise the profile of their movement internationally and forge alliances with similar causes in the region.
Camila Vallejo – the 22 year old student of Geography who has become an icon of movement – was in Brazil this week to take part in a demonstration organized by the Brazilian Students National Union (UNE) for education reform in South America’s largest country. While there Camila – along with delegates of the UNE – met with President Dilma Rousseff.
The invitation was extended by UNE President Daniel Iliescu who was part of a delegate of representatives from trade, student and teachers unions from countries throughout Latin America that attended Santiago’s two day national strike last week.