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Chile nabs 200 protesting students

(Xinhua)

13:39, August 05, 2011

Around 200 students were arrested on Thursday in downtown Santiago and at least two other cities during the demonstrations which hold the government responsible for education.

The demonstrations started at around 10:00 a.m. local time (14:00 GMT) from the Plaza Italia square, when middle school students tried to parade down the Alameda Street, Santiago's main road.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said that the students didn't have the government's permission for holding demonstrations. The authorities last Wednesday announced a ban on the demonstrations.

"The demonstration will not be authorized ... and we are going to take all the possible measures for this decision to be followed," Hinzpeter said on Wednesday.

Police Thursday took actions against the students participating in the demonstrations at different spots of the Alameda Street, including laying roadblocks. They also used water and tear gases against the protesters downtown here as well as in Valparaiso and Concepcion.

Police said that the demonstrations were expected to continue since later at 18:30 local time (22:30 GMT), university students called for another demonstration on the Alameda Street, which was also not authorized and would be dissolved.

Students from middle schools and universities and members of teachers' union in the country frequently staged protests since May, demanding more resources for public universities and the end of the moneymaking in private schools.

Students and teachers also demanded the return of public schools' control to the Ministry of Education, which is now in hands of the regional authorities.

On Monday, President Sebastian Pinera's government made a second proposal to settle the conflict, including the creation of an education unit to supervise higher education and establish a program to transfer schools from the regions to a state agency.

The government's initiative completed a previous proposal rejected by the students, which included the increase of scholarships and benefits for lower income university students.

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