Students in the Chilean capital, Santiago, have recently seen their 18 month mass movement hit by state attacks on their democratic rights.
It is mainly secondary school students protesting about a new law which would allow much stricter penalties to those on demonstrations.
The law would remove their freedom of speech and prevent them from legally protesting. It was passed in an attempt to suppress the a movement which has seen occupations, strikes and direct action in an campaign for free education in the country.
Recently students have been blockading roads and occupying public secondary schools as part of a campaign to force the government to withdraw the Hintzpeter law - nicknamed after the country’s unpopular interior minister.
The law would replace fines with long prison sentences of up to three years for those who block traffic or occupy buildings.
It isn’t just the students who will be affected by the new law, any group from factory workers to environmentalists could risk time in jail for taking part in mass demonstrations. Without the ability to withdraw their labour power and cost the ruling money, the main weapon students have is though their self-organisation into a mass movement, acting jointly with the organisations of the working class.
The government are trying to criminalise their movement and ban the right to protest. The legislation aims to intimidate students, and follows an international trend set by the infamous Bill 78 in Quebec. Santiago’s mayor has said that those who do not return to school by the end of this week risk having their scholarships removed.
It’s now key that students and the wider youth mobilise against this immediate attack on their democratic freedoms. To succeed with this resistance it will be necessary to draw the trade unions and working class who can use their economic and political power to defeat the government.
The US continent is engulfed in struggles of young people – from Montral to Oakland, Santiago to Sao Paulo, the youth are resisting the attacks of an elite which is determined to sacrifice the jobs, education and future of an entire generation to pay for its mistakes.
We want to unite these struggles, drawing strength from our collective numbers and experiences; we fight for the youth of the world to defend ourselves and fight for our interests as part of an international movement against capitalism and for socialism and workers’ power.