Since May, university and secondary school students in Chile have been involved in occupations and mass demonstrations calling for the return of free public education. Chile’s education system is the most heavily privatised in the world, with the state contributing no more than 15 per cent of the budget of the public universities, forcing students and their families to finance their education by means of debt. Is this the future for education that the Coalition Government in Britain dreams of?
But Chile’s model neoliberal democracy is beginning to unravel. With huge popular support, the student movement has radically shifted the political agenda by challenging the consensus of both government and opposition parties who both accommodated to the Constitution, still in place, that was imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980.
With interviews filmed in Santiago during November, this video incorporates footage shot mainly by postgraduate film students over the last few months, portraying the dynamics of the movement and the profound issues it raises about actually existing democracy in Chile.
Michael Chanan is professor of film at Roehampton University. His NS video blog documenting the UK’s anti-cuts movement lead to a full-length documentary, “Chronicle of Protest”. Buy it on DVD here.