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Students arrested as protests sweep Chile


08:57, June 27, 2013

SANTIAGO, June 26 (Xinhua) -- A new wave of protests for educational reform in Chile led to the arrest of 10 students Wednesday, as demonstrators set up roadblocks as part of a nationwide strike in which various unions took part, police sources said.

Students blocked traffic along the main streets and avenues of the capital Santiago and other cities, and clashed with police at several campuses.

According to the police, 10 students were arrested in street skirmishes on the first day of the national strike aimed at pressuring the government into overhauling Chile's educational system.

Wednesday's protests were supported by the teachers' union, as well as healthcare workers, port workers and copper workers' unions.

At the port of San Antonio, the nearest to Santiago, workers put up barricades and blocked access.

Student organizers called on protesters to take to the streets throughout Chile's main cities as part of a nationwide march.

In Santiago, marchers set out from three different locations to mass together along the city's main Alameda Avenue.

Meanwhile, at an official event in northern Chile, President Sebastian Pinera, referring to the planned protests, sent a warning to the students.

"The government is committed and will fulfill its obligation to guarantee public order (and) protect the security and tranquility of all citizens who want to live peacefully," he said.

He added, "unfortunately, we started off on the left foot, because at sunrise today there were scenes of extreme violence."

"Let's not allow ourselves to be dominated or worse subjugated by a handful of delinquents who think that by covering their faces with masks they can commit crimes with impunity," said Pinera.

The students' demands for free, quality public education have garnered the sympathy of other social sectors, but have had little effect on Pinera's pro-business conservative government.

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