SANTIAGO – Police dispersed on Wednesday a demonstration by high school students who had gathered in downtown Santiago to protest sexism and gender violence in schools.
The demonstration, organized by the National Confederation of Secondary Students (CONES) under the slogan “Sex education without sexism,” fell short of the expected turnout, with only about 350 young people showing up, according to police.
The students gathered at Santiago’s Los Heroes square, planning to make their way to the nearby Education Ministry to present a list of demands, then continuing toward Plaza Italia, about 2 km (1.2 mi) away, despite authorities having suggested an alternate route into the municipality of Recoleta, located north of downtown Santiago.
However, members of the Carabineros – Chile’s militarized national police – thwarted every attempt by the students to reach the ministry using tear gas and water cannons, successfully dispersing the marchers and arresting an unknown number of them.
CONES leaders, including spokeswoman Amanda Opazo, said they considered the “peaceful and massive” demonstration – with similar marches staged in various other Chilean cities – to be a success.
“Despite the attempts by @KarlaEnAccion (Santiago regional Gov. Karla Rubilar) to confuse public opinion, and regardless of the excessive use of force by the Carabineros, secondary students from all over the country made clear that the (protest) was peaceful and massive,” Opazo wrote on Twitter. “We will remain on the streets!”