Student Protests

The last twelve months have seen some of the biggest student protests in recent memory. On 11 April, Chilean students marched in their thousands, with 250,000 estimated national turnout and 100,000 in the capital. These protests have rumbled on since 2011. The leader of student representation is Camila Vallejo, a Castro-fan and member of (purportedly) Communist Youth of Chile, other members of this group involved in the protests include Camilo Ballesteros (President of the Student Federation of the University of Santiago de Chile), Camila Donato (president of the Federation of UMCE ), the secondary school leader Roberto Toledo. The protests are in part a result of tremendous inequalities across all the Chilean educational system due to the school voucher system. Some 1800 students have been arrested.

In Quebec, the symbol of a red square was adopted when 500,000 students took to the streets to protest in May 2012. Its objective was to freeze or eliminate tuition fees. It was described as the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. One of the key figures has been Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of the CLASSE (Coalition Large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante). It considers mass mobilization as a catalyst of social change. It favours local general assemblies as decision-making instances to referendums, which are considered less democratic. Anarchopanda is an unofficial mascot for the protests, known for hugging students and police. Some 2500 students have been arrested.

In Sussex in Britain, the symbol of a yellow square was adopted. Hundreds of students staged a rally and occupation in March in opposition to privatisation of campus jobs. Some students carried a huge black banner (the biggest thing visible) with white words reading Communism and on the reverse in Latin ‘Omnia Sunt Communia’ which translates to ‘All things are in Common’ and was used originally in the 15th Century by German rebel leader Thomas Müntzer. Despite the riot police presence and its retreat, no arrests were made.

Chilehas been the most reformist, Quebec somewhere in between, Sussex, though the smallest, has been the most explicit to call for ‘Communism’. Student unrest could presage a positive movement in the class struggle.

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