SANTIAGO — In the early morning hours of Oct. 28, students from the student group Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios (ACES), and members of the independent press, tried to set up tents on the banks of the Mapocho River in Santiago to demonstrate their hopes for education reform. They were quickly disbanded and arrested by a special forces team from the Chilean carabineros.
According to Alfredo Vielma, the director of ACES, 38 students and members from the independent press participated in the protest. Vielma added that the protesters did not halt traffic or act aggressively in any way.
Mario Rozas, the deputy commander of the Departamento de Comunicaciones Sociales de Carabineros or Social Communication Department of the Carabineros, said that although it was not illegal for the students to stay there, it was not a normal situation in the context of public order. He added that since the protesters put their lives in danger, the carabineros had to act, as juvenile law requires police “to guard their physical integrity“.
Due to the juvenile law, a special forces team interrupted the student’s efforts at the Mapocho river by arresting all participating protesters. Vielma described this as a violent repression of the protesters, adding that the police were allegedly attacking the students and members of the press during the confrontation. In the midst of the struggle, many students claim to have been completely submerged in the river. Vielma added that there was a possible pregnant girl among the protesters, and that the carabineros should take full responsibility for any damages done to her or her unborn child.