Posts tagged student protests
Posts tagged student protests
The latest in a series of student demonstrations in Santiago over education reforms erupts into violence, with protesters setting three buses on fire and clashing with police. Police used teargas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the rioters. Tuition fees in Chile are among the world’s highest.
Guatemalan students protest over education reform
Dozens of people have been injured in Guatemala in clashes between police and students protesting against education reform in the capital, Guatemala City.
Among those injured are the ministers for education and the interior, who were caught up in the clashes .
The protesters, who are studying to become teachers, object to changes which would see the length of their university course increase.
President Otto Perez Molina has called a meeting to end the protests.
Under the new plans, university courses for students studying to become primary school teachers will go up from three to five years.
Protests against the measure began more than two months ago, and still no agreement has been reached.
Police said Monday’s clashes kicked off when the protesters confronted Education Minister Cynthia del Aguila.
Emergency workers said Ms del Aguila had a panic attack and fainted.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, who was at the scene of the clashes to command the anti-riot police, suffered an arm injured after an object was thrown by the students.
About 40 students were taken to hospital.
Pictured: Riot police were deployed during the clashes in the south of the city
Mexicans will head to the polls on July 1 for national and local elections, voting in Senators, Governors and a new President.
More than 3.5 million people will be casting their ballots for the first time. The so-called youth vote for those aged 18 to 29 makes up more than 20% of the electorate.
If voter turnout is high it could have an impact on the election, however, nearly half of voters in that age group are still undecided, according to a recent academic study.
Al Jazeera’s Rachel Levin reports on how the youth vote could play a big role in deciding the next President of Mexico.
Quebec government under pressure as Canada’s ‘casseroles protests’ expand
Draconian emergency bill introduced to stifle student protests has ‘politicised’ ordinary Canadians, say opponents
It’s just before 8pm in the Villeray district of Montreal. People wander in and out of the shops and bars, and traffic streams down the main road. But gradually the atmosphere changes, as clusters of people begin to congregate at the busy Jarry intersection. Some are in small groups, and others alone; hipsters in shorts and hi-top trainers mingle with parents in hiking boots and khakis. One thing unites them: they are all carrying pots and pans.
Within half an hour, the metro station is closed to traffic and the intersection is shut down. Hundreds of people are banging their pans, drowning out the sound of car horns from frustrated motorists. This clanking cacophony has become a nightly ritual all over Montreal: a remarkably successful street protest against a draconian emergency law enacted to crack down on what began as localised protest against tuition fees.
“This is about people power,” said Carlos Luer, a 53-year-old children’s worker who is attending the “casseroles” (pots and pans) protest for the first time. It wasn’t the students’ demands that brought him onto the street, but like thousands of others, he is motivated by bill 78, a loathed piece of legislation passed by the provincial government in Quebec in a failed attempt to stamp out the student protests .”This government said: ‘Keep your mouth shut.’ But they forget, these are the kids of tomorrow,” Luer said.
This growing crisis has its roots in March 2011, when Quebec’s finance minister, Raymond Bachand, announced that the government would increase tuition fees by C$325 (£203) a year for the next five years. Tuition fees in Quebec are lower than in any other province in Canada, and the government was facing a budget shortfall.
But the large increases in fees angered student groups, and in August a formal campaign was announced to overturn them. In November, 30,000 students defied the oncoming Canadian winter to rally in Montreal against the increases. By February, they were on strike, in small numbers at first, but then with more and more taking part. Daily marches against the increases were happening now, with some 200,000 people taking to the streets of Montreal on 22 March.
But still this might have remained a student-government issue. Polls showed that a majority of people in Quebec backed the increases. The protests also divided along linguistic lines: the English-language press in Quebec – a state where 80% of the population speaks French and which boasts a strong nationalist movement – was largely critical of the student movement, which had its roots largely in the Francophone universities.
Then, after growing frustrated with the student strikes and street protests, the government introduced bill 78. The emergency legislation made it illegal for more than 50 people to demonstrate spontaneously. Would-be protesters were required to submit an itinerary to police eight hours in advance. The law suspended universities’ academic terms until August, and enforced strict restrictions on any individual or organisation blocking pupils access to class. Student groups breaking the law faced fines of up to C$125,000, individual protesters C$1,250.
Bill 78 came into effect on 18 May. A day later, responding to a call on Facebook, a large number of residents of Montreal came out onto balconies and streets, banging pots, pans and anything they could get their hands on. The casseroles protests, inspired by the cacerolazo movement in Chile in the 1970s, has continued every night since.
“I’m very surprised,” said Kevin Audet-Vallee, 24, at a protest last Friday. “Now that the ordinary citizens are in the streets I think the government is really in trouble, because the middle class is in the streets. At first [critics of student protesters] were saying we were radicals. These are not radicals.”
Pictured: Protesters in Montreal bang pots and pans in protest over bill 78 and in support of striking students. Photograph: Peter Mccabe/AP
Lawyers take to the streets with students for Montreal’s 35th consecutive night of protest
As negotiations between student leaders and the provincial Liberals resumed in Quebec City Monday evening after a supper break, more protests took place in different parts of Quebec including Montreal, which hosted its 35th consecutive night of demonstrations.
Lawyers dressed in their courtroom gowns paraded in silence from the city’s main courthouse through the streets of Old Montreal to join the nightly march.
“It is one of the first times I’ve seen lawyers protest in public like this…and I’ve been practising for almost 30 years,” Bruno Grenier said outside the building surrounded by about 250 people, some carrying copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The lawyer said his colleagues wanted to show the public that they oppose a law they “find unjust and which is probably unconstitutional.” (Photos: Canadian Press/Reuters)
Newspapers and television stations accused of favouring PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in runup to presidential poll in July
Thousands of university students have marched through central Mexico City to protest against a bias in media coverage that they say favours the candidate of the former ruling party in upcoming presidential elections.
The students say newspapers and television stations are tilting their coverage toward Enrique Peña Nieto, who is leading polls by double digits in the runup to the 1 July vote.
Many of the students were from the elite Iberoamerican University, where a 11 May appearance by Peña Nieto set off a rare wave of protests by young people against a return to the presidency of the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 70 years before it was voted out in 2000.
The students say Mexico’s largest television channel, Televisa, was particularly biased in its coverage of the rally and the campaign in general. Many finished the march at Televisa’s studios, where Peña Nieto was appearing on a live interview show.
Local media reported smaller, simultaneous marches in at least half a dozen other cities around Mexico.
A Televisa spokesman declined to comment, as did Peña Nieto’s campaign.
“We want to be told the truth in this country,” said Esteban Pacheco, an industrial design student at Iberoamerican University. “I look at this as a wake-up call.”
Peña Nieto’s backers have labelled the students as supporters of leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but many at the rally said they supported none of the three main presidential candidates.
A march through central Mexico City on Saturday drew tens of thousands of protesters against Peña Nieto.
Pictured: A Mexican student protests against media coverage favouring presidential hopeful Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary party, who is caricatured as a ‘repressor’. Photograph: Alexandre Meneghini/AP
Nearly 700 people arrested in Quebec protests
Nearly 700 people have been detained in two Quebec cities in the biggest single night of mass arrests since student protests over fees began in February.
Police invoked a controversial new law designed to curb demonstrations as they detained 518 people in Montreal and another 176 in Quebec City.
The protests against a planned rise in tuition charges escalated after Bill 78 passed last week.
The Quebec government insists it will not change its mind on the fee hike.
The march in Montreal late on Wednesday began peacefully, as several thousand demonstrators flooded the central square of Quebec’s largest city.
Police later penned in the protest - adopting a controversial European police tactic known as “kettling” - after reporting they had been pelted with rocks and other projectiles.
Those arrested were released on Thursday and issued with fines of more than C$600 (£370), AFP news agency reports.
Authorities invoked Bill 78, which requires eight hours’ notification before public demonstrations.
Bill 78, passed last Friday, requires marches to follow pre-approved routes, but protesters say it infringes their democratic rights, and have pledged to legally contest it.
Since the passing of the public assembly law, more than 300 people were arrested overnight at a protest in Montreal last Sunday and another 100 were detained in the city on Tuesday.
Students clash with police as Quebec introduces emergency laws to close universities and crack down on tuition fee demonstrations
Quebec’s provincial government, facing the most sustained student protests in Canadian history, has introduced emergency legislation that would shut some universities and impose harsh fines on pickets blocking students from attending classes, as it looks to end three months of demonstrations against rises in tuition fees.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in downtown Montreal on Thursday night as the government introduced the bill, with protests spilling over onto an expressway between stalled cars. Tuesday will mark 100 days since the demonstrations began.
Authorities said 122 people were arrested on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Montreal. Bank windows were smashed and missiles thrown at police.
The prime minister of Quebec, Jean Charest, said the proposed legislation would not roll back the tuition increases. Instead, it would temporarily halt the spring semester at faculties paralysed by walkouts and bring forward the summer holidays. Classes will resume earlier in August.
The legislation contains provisions for heavy fines for students and their federations. Fines range from $7,000 to $35,000 (£4,000 to £22,000) for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 (£15,000 to £78,000) for preventing someone from entering an educational institution. The bill also lays out strict regulations governing student protests, including having to give eight hours’ notice for protest itineraries. A vote on the measure is expected on Friday.
Pictured:Protesters at Montreal university: demonstrations over rises in tuition fees are into their third month. Photograph: Paul Chiasson/AP
Quebec student protests not just about tuition but battle against ‘greedy elites’
Defiant Quebec students had announced the second of what they vowed would be nightly protest marches until the Education Minister “stopped being childish” and agreed to negotiate an end to their 11-week strike over tuition.
But the weather was not co-operating, and as the appointed hour approached Thursday night, a cool drizzle fell on a mostly empty downtown park designated as the meeting point.
Just as it seemed the action would be a dud, the park started filling with people sporting the red square that is the symbol of the student movement. The march began, the crowd swelled and soon they would number over a thousand as they took over major downtown arteries for the next three hours.
“À qui la rue? À nous la rue!” they chanted. Whose streets? Their streets.
Quebecers have never been shy about taking to the streets to air their grievances, but the student demonstrations that have captivated the province this spring are in a different league. Multiple protests occur every day in Montreal alone, with three in the last week turning violent.
Premier Jean Charest announced Friday that, as a concession, he is prepared to spread the $1,625 tuition increase over seven years instead of the previously planned five. He said the annual increase would amount to 50 cents a day after tax credits. Student groups replied immediately that the gesture was inadequate.
How is it that so many people are so worked up about a relatively minor increase in tuition fees? In spending time talking to protesters, one thing becomes clear. This movement, if it ever was, is no longer just about tuition.
Véronique Boulanger-Vaugeois, 30, had ducked out of the rain for an espresso before the march began. She has a degree in social work from Université du Québec à Montréal but is currently unemployed. She recently decided to take a more active part in the student protests after recognizing its potential for broader societal change.
“For me the student movement, the student strike is just one part of everything we have to resolve,” she said. “The student movement is one in which the youth give us the energy, give us the power to refuse what is going on right now.”
Specifically that includes the tuition increases — she has fought for free university since her own student days — and the Liberal government’s northern development plan known as Plan Nord. But there is more. She also sees the protest as a refusal of “the entire capitalist, neo-liberal context that over time ends up having a very harmful impact, both locally and internationally, on the environment and on humanity.”
The previous night’s protest had left shattered windows and prompted police to use tear gas and pepper spray. Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay had despaired that his city was being disgraced around the world. Ms. Boulanger-Vaugeois, however, was unmoved by the mayor’s appeal for calm. “He should hold back his dogs. His dogs are the police,” she said. “It’s not the students who are causing destruction; it’s the police.”
Pictured: The student protest movement has become an outlet for a sweeping range of grievances. Graham Hughes for National Post.
Tens of thousands of students have taken part in protests in Chile in support of education reform.
Organisers said at least 50,000 marched in the capital Santiago on Wednesday, with police saying 25,000 attended.
Chilean students have held a series of mass protests recent months, demanding free public education for all.
Student leaders have said plans expected from conservative President Sebastian Pinera to direct extra money to education are not sufficient.
The protest in Santiago passed off largely peacefully, but some students did clash with police later in the day after a police booth was set on fire.
Smaller protests were also held in other cities, including Valparaiso and Concepcion.
“We will carry on making history… We students will not give up the fight to make education a public right,” student leader Gabriel Boric told Spain’s Efe news agency.