Santiago, Mar 25 (EFE).- At least one person was wounded Friday when a police officer opened fire during a protest by university students in the Chilean capital.
Videos circulating on social media showed a member of the Carabineros – Chile’s militarized national police – discharge his weapon while surrounded by demonstrators in the center of Santiago.
The deputy interior minister, Manuel Monsalve, said that the gunshot victim was being treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
“The use of a firearm by a police official is always a very serious matter,” he told the media. “Whenever a Chilean citizen is wounded – and this is the case, there is a young man wounded as a result of that shot. It’s a serious matter.”
Friday’s march was the first major mobilization by university students in Santiago since 36-year-old former student activist Gabriel Boric became Chile’s president on March 11.
The demonstration was organized by the Confech students federation to press for an increase in the food stipend for university students, known as BAES, which remains unchanged at 31,000 pesos ($40) a month 10 years after it was instituted.
“We believe that now is the moment to demonstrate, after an entire year trying to generate meetings, opportunities for conversation and dialogue and our demands have not been heard,” Confech spokesperson Noemi Quintana said.
“It’s very necessary that we, as students, return to the streets after two years in our homes in the pandemic,” she said.
Quintana said that Confech wants to see the amount of the BAES boosted to the equivalent of $61 a month.
Besides the larger food stipend, marchers called for the resignation of the head of the National Board of Student Aid and Scholarships (Junaeb), Jaime Toha.
Boric is not only Chile’s youngest president, he is also the first since the end of the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship not to be from the center-left or conservative blocs that have dominated politics for three decades.
Instead, he leads an administration comprising his own Social Convergence party, the leftist Broad Front, and the Communists, and Boric campaigned on a promise to create a European-style welfare state. EFE