It was our last Thursday in Chile, and even though we had a full schedule we were not going to be denied the chance to see the education protests once again. During the day when we were walking near Plaza Italia we saw about 100 young students march down a street and form circle at the intersection of Peonono Street. They grasped hands in a circle and started dancing, blocking all traffic in the process. They danced and chanted until the riot police came in their big armored trucks and chased them away. I have some pretty awesome video of this.
We heard that at 6:30 both students and teachers were going to start marching from Plaza Italia, so we decided to go back to the hotel until then and we would all come back out for the protests at night.
We took the train to Baquedano at about 6 o’clock and walked around for about fifteen minutes, weaving our way through police, students, and street vendors selling lemons for the tear gas. At around 6 20 the students started gathering together and before they did much, the police threw tear gas and brought out the water cannons to force them to disperse. There were a lot more people at this protest than last Thursday at Universidad de Chile and it was a lot tighter quarters. We were on a big main street but the tear gas forced us to run to a smaller, narrow street. The gas was overwhelming; I couldn’t escape it and tears we pouring down my face. I could barely keep my eyes open to see where I was going. Once we got on this narrow street I took some video of the students and professors walking together chanting and then I decided to get out of there before things got too crazy. I started to walk away from the crowd with Lauren and Courtney in an attempt to find a cab or an open train station. As the three of us were looking for a way to get home we were stopped by a student who asked if he could interview us for a foreign perspective on the protests. He asked us what we thought and I explained how foreign the whole situation is to us, that I had never experienced anything like it at home and I also expressed my skepticism over how the students are going about getting what they want, and also how the police are responding. He was wearing a shirt that referred to an article in the constitution that says Chileans can gather anywhere any time and peacefully demonstrate without permission. He explained that it is perfectly legal. He gave us directions on how to get to the nearest open train station. We did so and I went up to my room to watch live coverage of the protests. Once again, a once in a lifetime experience in Chile.