Chilean students clash with police

Valparaiso – Riot police fired water cannons and hurled teargas at protesters who rallied outside Chile’s Congress demanding educational reforms on Thursday.

Hooded youths jumped metal barriers near Congress and hurled rocks and clubs at the police, who responded by firing blasts of high-pressure water from armoured trucks.

Thick clouds of teargas lingered as protesters and police battled for nearly two hours.

The clashes broke out at the end of a peaceful demonstration, one of scores that have taken place since May demanding more government resources for public education and reforms to a system imposed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Thousands of students and their supporters – including 2 500 teachers who arrived in a caravan of 55 buses – converged on this coastal city west of the capital Santiago to increase pressure on lawmakers to approve education reform.

Police said there were 7 000 protesters at the march, while demonstration organisers put the number at 40 000. Police did not say how many protesters had been arrested.


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