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Chilean students taking to streets against 'Pinochet's education'(VIDEO)

Chilean youth have held continuous rallies for two months to protest the country's poor education system, which has not substantially changed since the fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

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The movement has drawn hundreds of thousands of marchers into the streets and given rise to street theater such as a mass kiss-in and hundreds of people dancing to the music of Lady Gaga. It marks a change for Chilean youth, who have long been alienated from politics.

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"Chile spends its money making weapons and strengthening the army for a war that never arrives," said Daniela Moder, an architecture student at the University of Chile. "Chile also gives away its resources to other countries. It says, the copper, come and get it. With the copper, we could subsidize the education for all."

These wider demands have increased the appeal of the marches. Chile's political system is designed to keep the legislature divided between two blocs, making big legislative changes difficult. Some students are now demanding a change in the political system, as well as the educational system, giving their demands a more revolutionary tone.

While some placards at the marches name Mr. Piñera and his education ministers as culprits, others spread the blame among Pinochet, the Concertación coalition of left-leaning parties, and Piñera. Indeed, support for the Concertación is now even lower than it is for the government, with only 17 percent of respondents telling the Centro de Estudios Publicos that they "support" the performance of the coalition.

The protesters swelling political demands are unlikely to be met, says Dante Contreras, an economics professor at the University of Chile who specializes in education. He says neither the government nor the opposition recognize the seriousness of the demands.

"They don't see the magnitude of the problem," he said.

For now, the marches continue. Continuous rallies are ongoing in plazas across the country, and the relay run around the presidential palace will continue until Aug. 27, organizers say.


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