So I don’t know if it has reached the news in the States, but there have been quite a few protests and marches in Chile for free education. A lot of these marches have had up to 50,000+ students, mostly happening in the bigger cities like Santiago.
And while a lot of these marches and protests are pretty harmless, there has been some serious violence done more than a few times. August 24-25 were the two big days where students gathered nation-wide for protests and marches. We live about a block and a half away from UDEC (Universidad de Concepcion), so normally when there is something brewing, we can hear it from our apartment and look out the window to see the many cop cars and army-like vehicles storming down Chacabuco Plaza Peru-bound.
I was looking out the window on the 25th in the afternoon when a cop van pulled into the middle of the street on Chacabuco. I pretty much figured they would have the road blocked off for marches. But then some kid came running down the street and threw a large rock at the van. And cue the large military-like vehicles. I grabbed my camera and ran downstairs to the action.
View from our apartment.
Police lined up and ready.
Military vehicles arriving in Plaza Peru.
After students start throwing bricks/bottles/whatever onto the military vehicle, they break out the water gun and start blasting the crowd.
A large fire is started in the street in front of UDEC blocking the road.
Damage done to local buildings.
Banners hanging off the school.
Banners on apartments near Plaza Peru
The rest of the march from Plaza Indepencia heads towards Plaza Peru. I decide to run to Santa Isabel and pick up some groceries before the store closes for the protests.
I take the groceries home, comfort Penelope (because she gets a little scared when she hears all the noise outside), and get ready to head back out when I hear more commotion outside on the street:
Now I would like to throw in my 2 cents in saying that I am very AGAINST bringing animals into situations like this where they can and most likely will get harmed. I have found some videos on youtube of horses being injured in these recent protests. In one video, all the students surrendered once the cops came in riding horses because they were against harming the animals. It is one thing to have the tanks and vehicles and police but quite another to bring innocent animals into this. Later on, they actually used these horses as weapons and I was almost trampled.
So after I saw this, I ran downstairs and broke out the camera again:
Cops waiting outside on the street in from of our apartment.
Military Vehicle ready to charge students.
Students with rocks in hand. Note also all the destruction done to the local buildings and businesses.
The students tore down all the street signs in an effort to block off the street. They are also prepping with wine bottles and rocks.
Moving the signs further up Chacabuco.
They move the signs about one block further up, almost meeting with the military vehicle.
The vehicle charges and they start to run. At this point I realize that the fearless photographer in me has gotten WAY too close to the action.
This is by far my favorite and most daring shot. I had to hide behind this glass bus stop while students threw bottles and rocks at this jeep. I don’t really know how I didn’t get hit with something. I am lucky. All the paint on the vehicle is from the students by the way. This jeep was later set on fire.
And then I started hearing what sounded like gunshots. But instead were flaming rocks that were being shot at the crowd that exploded into clouds of tear gas.
I can honestly say I have never felt such severe pain in my eyes before. It got so bad that I had to sit down and shut my eyes. One kid gave me salt to put around my eyes to protect from the tear gas, but it didn’t help. Another gave me a tissue and I was able to rub and blot away enough to be able to see again. Just in time, because the police came in on their horses and tried to stampede us. I tried to run as fast as I could, but there were about 500 people there and the horse was catching up fast. The cop made it stand and it nearly landed on me. People yelled at me to take a photo of this, but I was more concerned about not being squished under a horse. This is what I am against, using horses/animals as weapons and also bringing them into tear gas filled air without any eye protection. It’s inhumane and wrong.
The cops then started grabbing people and arresting them, so I ran to a group of women. An elderly woman yelled to a young girl not to run or else they will come after you.
More horses are brought in.
Cops start arresting people. This is around the point my camera died.
So I ran back home with my eyes still slightly burning and a small sneeze from the pepper spray. There are many videos online of the protests, just look up “UDEC Protestas” on youtube. But again, I cannot express how angry I am with the abuse towards the animals. Here is a link to a video of what happens to them in these protests: