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  HOME | Chile

Chilean Students Occupy HQ of Firm Linked to Corruption

SANTIAGO – More than two-dozen Chilean high school students mounted a brief occupation on Wednesday at the Santiago headquarters of mining company Soquimich, which is under investigation for tax fraud and illegal political contributions.

Demonstrators belonging to the High School Student’s Coordinating Assembly, known as Aces, invaded the company’s offices and used chains to lock the main entrance to the building, located in Santiago’s financial district.

“We come to the SQM offices to protest against corrupt business power,” Aces spokesperson Aurora Rozas told Efe. “This demonstration expresses our rage about these acts, because, in the end, the guilty are not punished.”

The students were ultimately ejected from the offices and riot police arrested 22 of them.

The Soquimich inquiry is a spinoff from the much bigger Penta case, which involves a financial conglomerate likewise accused of tax fraud and of illegally funneling money to political campaigns.

Soquimich is controlled by businessman Julio Ponce Lerou, former son-in-law of late dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Ponce acquired the originally state-owned company during the wave of privatizations that took place under Pinochet’s 1973-1990 regime.

“We didn’t enter these offices seeking answers, because we know we won’t find them here,” Rozas said. “The solution to all injustice is not here. As students we must unite and take to the streets to demonstrate, to fight, and to be heard.”

The students will continue staging occupations and “protesting against big business power,” she told Efe.

 

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