student protests

Argentina: students occupy to protest 'reform'

As of Sept. 20 Argentine high school students had occupied 10 schools in Buenos Aires to protest an "educational reform" program that the capital's rightwing mayor, Mauricio Macri, plans to institute at the beginning of the next school year in March 2014. The students held assemblies at each school to decide whether to take action. Some schools voted against the occupations: 495 of the 565 students at Julio Argentino Roca voted not to occupy, as did 340 of 420 students at Normal 6. Students from the occupied schools held a joint assembly and announced plans for a Sept. 23 press conference.

Turkey: protest movement gets another martyr

Ahmet Ataka, a 22-year-old protester, died Sept. 10 two days after being wounded in a clash with police in Antakya (Antioch), provincial capital of Turkey's Hatay province. The march was called to show solidarity with students and local residents in Ankara protesting the construction of a road through the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) campus, which would destroy a green area—a reprise to June's massive protests sparked by plans to bulldoze Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square. Authorities are maintianing that Ataka suffered a head injury when he fell from a building, and that police were not involved. Protesters contest this, and say he was hit in the head with a tear-gas cannister. (BIANet, Setp. 10: Doğan News Agency, Sept. 8)

Israeli forces clash with al-Quds student protesters

Israeli forces fired tear-gas cannisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at al-Quds university students in Abu Dis on Sept. 8, witnesses said. An Israeli border police patrol stopped and searched several students at the main gate of the university in Abu Dis, inspecting identity cards and detaining several students for over an hour. Clashes broke out after university staff prevented Israeli forces from entering the campus. Over 30 students suffered from gas inhalation. Eight students were injured by rubber bullets and transferred to Abu Dis emergency center. Two university security guards were also hospitalized.

Colombia: students, workers join peasant strike

Tens of thousands took to the streets across Colombia last week, as workers and students joined the strike launched by campesinos in the north of the country. Violent clashes were reported Aug. 29, primarily from Bogotá, where police fired tear gas into a crowd of some 10,000 assembled in the city's main square, Plaza Bolívar. Witnesses report that despite a strong police presence, the demonstrators remained calm for several hours, with speakers encouraging peaceful protest—until a group arrived (possibly agents provocateurs) who began throwing firecrackers and debris at the police line, sparking the melee. Within 15 minutes, the square had been cleared, though clashes with the ESMAD riot squad continued in the streets surrounding the plaza. Some 20 were injured in the street fighting. Riots were also reported in Soacha, a working-class city on the outskirts of Bogotá, where dozens of masked men clashed with riot police, prompting local authorities to order a curfew.

Colombia: strikes halt US coal giant Drummond

Indefinite strikes brought coal mining operations of Alabama-based multinational Drummond Co to a halt on July 23 in the north of Colombia, putting further pressure on the country's economy amid a growing wave of labor actions. After negotiations failed between the Sintramienergetica union and Drummond over wage increases, union workers declared an indefinite end to operations. The strike threatens a halt to nearly all production in the world's fourth coal-producing nation. Two companies, Drummond and Cerrejon, account for 85% of Colombia's coal industry. If Cerrejon, whose union went on strike earlier this year, also declares a halt to operations, Colombia's GDP growth could fall significantly. President Juan Manuel Santos has said the strikes could "damage the entire world," and that "no one wins because every day that passes [there are] forgone royalties and foregone incomes that for the most part go to social investment." (Colombia Reports, July 24)

Chile: students march as election season starts

More than 100,000 Chileans marched in Santiago on June 26 in the latest massive demonstration for a system of free secondary and higher education to replace the heavily privatized system created under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. There were similar protests in cities throughout the country, along with walkouts by port workers in support of the students' demands. In addition to high school and university students, the march drew port workers, teachers, copper miners and municipal health workers.

Haiti: public university students protest tuition hike

Students from the State University of Haiti (UEH) took to the streets of Port-au-Prince on June 27 to protest an increase in their registration fees from 500 gourdes (about $11.53) to 1,000 gourdes. The administration also added a 500 gourde surcharge and changed the cut-off date for registration. The protesters reportedly threw rocks and bottles, set up barricades of burning tires and smashed the windshields of a dozen vehicles parked at the administrative building. Six students were arrested; they were released later in the day. UEH rector Jean-Vernet Henry quickly announced that the increase had been made without his knowledge; the old fees would be restored, university officials said, along with the old registration date. 

Peru: student protests rock Cuzco

Riot police clashed with student protesters in Cuzco, Peru, June 14, using tear-gas against demonstrators who hurled stones. Students at the city's University of San Antonio Abad (UNSAAC) walked out the day before to protest a proposed education law they say violates the autonomy of universities and is a step towards privatization of the national university system. The University Law is currently under debate in Peru's Congress. Some 20 students were injured in the clashes, and 11 arrested. Police said two officers and a local prosecutor also suffered injuries. (Vision, June 17; La Republica, June 14)

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