SANTIAGO, Chile.- This may seem like a paradox because his political career exploded at the same rate as the student demonstrations, but today Gabriel Boric faces a similar conflict on the other side. Just over a month and a half after assuming the presidency of Chile, the leader of the Front Broad is facing various mobilizations of young people in secondary school who demand improvements in infrastructure, a greater number of teachers and changes in school content. All of this generated a escalation of violence during the last days.
The main protests were concentrated on the outskirts of educational institutions in central Santiago, such as the National Institute, Liceo Barros Borgoño and Liceo Tajamar, in the metropolitan area, and spread to other schools, using the same modus operandi: blockades of streets, clashes with the police and seizure of the respective premises. Moreover, they were made arson with Molotov cocktails performed by groups dressed in white overalls, the same that emerged in 2018 during another wave of protests by high school students.
Faced with the rise of the climate of effervescence and the multiplication of incidents, it was Boric himself who marked the distance before the rebirth of increasingly harsh mobilizations. “Students who want to dialogue will have their doors open, those who want to set buses on fire or use violent means to defend their demands will have to respond to the law accordingly”, said the president.
“We come from student struggles and we don’t forget that, and it would be a big mistake to forget where we come from. We have achieved the best results when dialogue has prevailed to carry out these objectives,” said the Head of State, in an appeal also made by the Minister of Education, Marco Antonio Avila.
“Violence is not the solution. Anyone who thinks they can advance their demands through violence is mistaken and harming their cause. In particular the cases of violence that have occurred in recent days harm is done to their high schools and communities“, concluded Boric, who at the beginning of his political career was arrested in several marches and in 2009 led the recalls the takeover of the Faculty of Law of the University of Chile-
However, the representatives of the student centers involved in the demonstrations ignored the words of the Head of State and even invalidated him as interlocutor.
“The words of President Gabriel Boric, even commented on by the students, have never been the subject of particular attention, because Gabriel Boric is not a direct authority of ussaid Diego Jaque, president of the student center of the National Institute, one of the most traditional establishments in Chile, and considered for years the pride of public education.
“What Gabriel Boric says is not as relevant as what the municipality says, which is in charge of what happens in high school,” added the student leader, who did not rule out new protests and that d other establishments in the country are joining them. . .
Student protests turn into complex moment for Boric, who recognized difficulties in setting up your government during his first month and a half in office. In fact, he himself described his arrival at La Moneda as “a turbulent take-off” To graph the series unforced errors and stumbles that he had to face, and that they quickly did decrease its popularity from 50% to 36%.
Disapproval of Boric has surpassed his positive image and reached 53%, according to the latest Cadem survey, while pessimism about the country’s future has outweighed optimism for the first time since the start of his term. government. The poll follows the rejection of two bills that would allow people to withdraw up to 10% of their savings for pensions to cope with the current economic crisis.
“There is a feeling that the government was not able to control the agenda, which is a fundamental tool for governments to manage. This is expressed in the fact that this government agenda, the institutional political agenda, has always been somehow taken over by other actors,” analyzed Marco Moreno, director of the Central University School of Government and Communications.
“There was one leadership and authority crisis in general in those who occupy positions in the government, but especially in what happened with the Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches, “stressed Moreno, with regard to the inconveniences that Boric’s right-hand man experienced within the cabinet and that he had in relation to her problems in the management of the Mapuche conflict and certain interventions in which she made mistakes and hesitated.
In fact, this week Boric’s authority itself had another litmus test related to the the protests of truckers who blocked the roads and for which he had to invoke the State Security Act to order the police to clear busy roads.