SANTIAGO – The crisis at Instituto Nacional is far from over. During violent clashes this week, special police forces shot tear gas inside the educational establishment after students launched molotov cocktails. Santiago Mayor Felipe Alessandri advanced the winter holidays to stop the violence, while UNICEF calls for the rights to education and safety restored.
Violence at the Instituto Nacional has been going on for months, but the severity of the violence this week was of a different level. Special police forces entered the premises and fired tear gas while classes were going on and even proceeded in entering classrooms while carrying weapons. The tear gas used in the school halls caused respiratory problems, according to students.
The special forces entered classrooms to arrest students suspected of throwing molotov cocktails. Footage appeared this week of a student who had a molotov cocktail he wanted to throw exploding in his face, causing severe burns.
Molotov cocktails used by students, tear gas shot and arrests made inside the establishment: the crisis at the emblematic Instituto Nacional seems to worsen by the week. Students protest the use of the Aula Segura-law, that gives principals the immediate power to temporarily suspend or permanently expel students involved in violent acts.
Students claim the law doesn’t solve anything and doesn’t guarantee an honest process for students expelled. In an earlier phase, experts called the law repressive and a form of segregation.
UNICEF Expresses Worries
UNICEF commented yesterday on the events at the Instituto Nacional and expressed worries about the situation. The organization said the right to education and school safety, according to articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, had to be restored.
“Authorities, board members, teachers and students must find on short term a solution, to restore the right to education that the 4,000 students at this school have”, the statement reads.
UNICEF also commented on the violent clashes. “Violence should never be used as a method to solve conflicts or express demands, since this favors the reproduction of the spiral of violence that damages the entire educational community and that is transmitted through the generations as a valid mechanism to face complex situations. It is important to keep in mind that the way adults react is an example from which students learn and reproduce.”
#Chile: Right now, police crackdown on protesters at the #InstitutoNacional with tear gas and water cannon. Students and their supporters were protesting against the police violence in early today.— ubique (@PersonalEscrito) June 20, 2019
Via @neis_netty, @cmunoz_tgc, @marxismo_cl pic.twitter.com/9s9LU6zmIt
Mayor Advances Holidays For All Instituto Nacional Students
As a response to the violence, the Mayor of Santiago, Felipe Alessandri, announced on Wednesday that the winter holidays have been advanced for all 4,000 students at the Instituto Nacional.
Alessandri also expressed his support for the controversial actions of police forces. “In 15 minutes, 37 molotov cocktails were thrown. The police acted according to their protocols, and they entered the establishment as the students hid themselves inside classrooms”.
He called the students responsible for the violence terrorists – a statement showing where the authorities stand in the enduring conflict at one of Chile’s most famous high schools.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.