874 arrested in student protests in Chile

SANTIAGO (Xinhua) – A total of 874 people, mostly students, were arrested in Chile’s student protests demanding more resources for underfunded public education, authorities said Friday.

About 90 police officers were injured in clashes with the protesters, Vice Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla said.

At least 410 of the detained were from the capital Santiago and the rest from other cities, Ubilla said.

Police clashed with students in the streets of Santiago, firing water cannon and tear gas. Mounted police broke up flaming barricades.

The protesting students challenged the government’s protest ban, trying to march through the main streets of Santiago.

Protests were also held in some other cities including Valparaiso, Concepcion, Iquique and Quilpue.

At night, thousands of citizens backed the students by banging pots and pans from their own houses.

According to Ubilla, in one of the most violent incidents, a number of hooded people set ablaze a popular store in Santiago.

“At night, a group of violent people tried to paralyze downtown Santiago and plundered and set on fire a store,” Ubilla said.

Students from middle schools and universities and members of teachers’ unions in the country have frequently staged protests since May, demanding more resources for public education and a reduction in high tuition fees in private schools.

Students and teachers also demand the return of public schools, which are now largely run by underfunded regional authorities, to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

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