The Chilean student movement began in May 2011 with the Confederation of Students of Chile (CONFECh) – which represents the traditional public universities – calling for a series of marches to pressure President Sebastian Piñera in the lead up to his annual national address.
Since then the movement has grown to encompass the organizations that represent the country’s secondary school students, school teachers, university professors, technical schools, and private universities.
Public demonstrations have been frequent and drawn huge crowds. On 30th of June, in Santiago alone, the government put the number of marchers at 80,000 and the students at 200,000.
The protests represent the most important social movement that this country has seen since the transition to democracy in 1990.
They have tapped into various currents of discontent that have been bubbling just under the surface of public consciousness for decades, in particular the vast inequality of income and opportunity between the minority elite and the rest of society, electrified political debate and politicized a generation that was, only months before it all began, characterized as self-centered and apathetic.